"We approached Old Hat for an in-game element that would get our fans involved. They created our Space Needle Race and to say that it has taken on a life of its own is an understatement. The Gold Elevator has a cult following with our supporters, complete with its own Twitter account that even has more followers than some of our players. Old Hat helped us enhance our already tremendous atmosphere beyond our expectations with this viral race."
- Tyler Johnson - Manager of Game Presentation, Seattle Sounders
CUSTOM ANIMATION GOES VIRAL
How do you get the most bang for your buck with in-game entertainment? You take a page out of the Seattle Sounders’ playbook and turn a small part of halftime entertainment into an iconic piece of your club’s persona.
You likely know who the Seattle Sounders are – being the 2019 MLS Cup Champions, you should know. But before this season, you wouldn’t have known much about Gold Elevator. That’s because, before this season, it didn’t really exist. And yet, just one season and quite a few winless-gold-elevator rides up the Space Needle, @ElevatorGold has more followers than @Xavierarreaga25 (Xavier Arreaga), one of the Sounders’ players.
So how and why did this become a thing? The Sounders reached out to Old Hat about creating an elevator race, similar to other in-game races we’ve done for our clients- although completely customized for the Space Needle, another cool feature in itself. In the race are three elevators – blue, green and gold – all which have an equal shot on any given gameday to win the race to the top. Or do they? It just so happened that the gold elevator wasn’t winning any of the races, and fans started picking up on this. During halftime, fans would continue to pick the gold elevator to win in hopes that they’d experience a single Gold Elevator victory. Signage and jerseys were being created by fans in support of Gold Elevator, and a twitter account was created by Gold Elevator himself/herself. That seems like a lot of hype for something as trivial as a halftime game that lasts less than a minute.
And that brings us to the why. Sure, the Sounders could’ve made this a completely random race and Gold Elevator could’ve won just as often as the other two elevators. But everyone likes to root for an underdog, and that’s what Gold Elevator became. By the last regular-season game, Gold Elevator sat winless and fans’ anticipation for a victory was at its peak. If Gold Elevator were going to win, it would have to be today. The team made sure to hype up that possibility.
It was clear that Gold Elevator had given up all hope. It barely took off by the time the race was won. Gold Elevator’s season was over.
Fortunately, that’s not where this fairytale ends. As luck would have it, the Sounders made it into the MLS Cup finals and would become the 2019 MLS Cup Champions! Shortly after, the players and fans filled the streets of Seattle in celebration of a second star for the Rave Green, but maybe just as importantly, Gold Elevator would get one last shot at redemption at the post-parade festivities.
The Sounders organization- and anyone involved with sports for that matter- realize that a halftime game isn’t that missing piece that’s going to get your fans to show up for your games. It has no bearing on the outcome of the game, and does anyone seriously care that much about Gold Elevator? Probably not. But what it does is provides yet another avenue for entertainment to flow through everything you do as an organization. As marketers and entertainers, we shouldn’t be looking for that one key element that’s going to draw the masses – we already have that in the sport we offer. What we should be looking for are the hundreds of little things we can improve and adapt for our fans to make every moment an enjoyable one. The Sounders saw that fans had embraced the Gold Elevator as the unsung hero and underdog, and they fed this frenzy each week until ultimately, fans saw the payoff.