Forget about selling tickets – tell a story.

Stop chasing dollars...that's probably not the most conventional message for the 2019 VenuesNow conference attendees to hear. This is an annual conference where close to 1,000 sports, entertainment, and venue executives gather to discuss relevant industry issues. Nevertheless, we felt that message was most crucial for them to hear.

Our message: Filling seats is just the start. Let's move people.
Our message: Filling seats is just the start. Let's move people.

For many people in the room, the idea of placing the importance of anything above revenue capture would likely equate to blasphemy. Modern arenas can cost well over $1 billion USD to construct, and many millions annually to operate. Ensuring that every seat in the house is consistently filled and sold for the highest price is paramount.

To be sure, we understand those fundamental economics and do not advocate for radical “disruption." We did, however, ask those in attendance to take a step back and consider the importance and value of creating and tapping into an emotional brand narrative.

The collective work of Hornall Anderson, Digital Kitchen, and Sid Lee – creating storytelling, fandom, passion, community, tradition, and one-of-a-kind experiences – in the sports and entertainment industry.
The collective work of Hornall Anderson, Digital Kitchen, and Sid Lee – creating storytelling, fandom, passion, community, tradition, and one-of-a-kind experiences – in the sports and entertainment industry.

We live in an era where consumers’ attention spans are pulled in myriad directions and ensuring that your venue is competitive in the 21st Century landscape requires more than just the biggest Jumbotron, ultra-padded seats, or all-inclusive food-and-beverage packages. In the short-term, those are all fantastic amenities and will help seal the deal, but in reality, the emotional sale needs to start much earlier. “Cool story. What’s your point?” Glad you asked.

Sid Lee's We the North campaign for the Toronto Raptors turned into a movement, uniting people around a mindset and pride of place.
Sid Lee's We the North campaign for the Toronto Raptors turned into a movement, uniting people around a mindset and pride of place.

The Toronto Raptors had long been a fringe character in the cast of world basketball royalty as an anomaly sports franchise in a country known for their dominance in hockey.

In 2014, that all changed. The Raptors were climbing up the NBA table and quickly building toward a post-season run. With this hot streak came the need for a rally cry to boost the team’s momentum. We the North did just that. This was an extensive brand campaign orchestrated by our creative partners at Sid Lee Toronto.

The campaign effectively galvanized the city and country, quickly spreading across social media and growing into a cultural movement—half a billion social media impressions, sold-out playoff crowds, and TV ratings smashed. Ultimately We the North paved the way for a frenzied fanbase for years to come.

Hornall Anderson's Greatness in Common brand anthem video created for the Golden State Warriors Chase Experience Center.
Hornall Anderson's Greatness in Common brand anthem video created for the Golden State Warriors Chase Experience Center.

Whether an NBA franchise, Cirque du Soleil, or Beyonce (yes, even Queen Bey) — all of these brands fill seats at their events by first telling a story. An underdog amongst basketball elite, a mesmerizing circus of seemingly infinite possibility, or turning life’s lemons into Lemonade. The deeper the emotional bond that we can forge with our audience, the more likelihood we have to build a sustaining, lifelong connection. That brand loyalty is what sells out venues for years to come. That is the power of a story.

View our work