True North Entertainment will regret their “Forever Winnipeg” campaign

Winnipeg Jets (Photo by Jason Halstead/Getty Images)
Winnipeg Jets (Photo by Jason Halstead/Getty Images) /

True North Entertainment (TNE) has subscribed to a new-fangled form of marketing. While most businesses stick to the tried and tested methodologies of the past: integrity, transparency, and customer service – TNE is innovating with its new bully pulpit tactic.

The Winnipeg Jets launched their most aggressive season ticket campaign in Jets 2.0 history. The genesis of this stems from slipping attendance and canceled ticket packages.

How is the promotion faring? “Forever Winnipeg” is a blunder of epic proportions. Here’s why. Firstly, don’t do that. Don’t threaten your customer base, veiled or otherwise, into purchasing your product. Nobody likes a bully, especially a bully worth north of $650 million.

Secondly, rather than holding the customer ultimately responsible for the long-term viability of your product, why not try innovating, or at least asking how to make the customer experience better?

The Winnipeg Jets got it wrong with “Forever Winnipeg”

It appears to me that the Jets organization is going through the 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. For years, TNE believed that for as long as they put a product on the ice, Jets fans would salivate at the prospect of being a season ticket holder. They were in denial. Now they are angry, and trying to bargain with the fanbase – but from a position of anger.

The median price for a single Jets season ticket is $6,500. The average salary in Manitoba is around 50K, and take home is approximately $37,000. One of the basic tenants of personal finance is that your entertainment budget should not exceed 10% of your Net pay. Well, doing the math, the average season ticket for the average Manitoban would represent 17.5% of that person’s net income. That doesn’t include concessions, parking, and merchandise. All-in, you are looking at 20% of income.

I understand that most ticket packages are shared and that I’ve presented a rigid formula to a real-life scenario with fluidity, but what does a person get for their 20%? I spend enough time talking about the Jets hockey product, so I want to talk about the TNE customer experience.

I was, for 11 years, a season ticket holder. Six of us shared 3 seats, but through mitigating circumstances, we did not renew prior to the 2022-23 season. In 11 years, I did not receive one email, one survey, or one promotional spliff. Scott Billeck of the Winnipeg Sun has received dozens of letters of the same ilk. The one ‘perk’ (outside of the hockey) was receiving 15% off at the Gift Shop, but we had to fight for all 6 of us to receive THAT.

Let me be clear, I am extremely grateful to have the Winnipeg Jets, and May 31, 2011, represents a watershed moment in my life. I was perfectly content to continue to go to games and buy jerseys. But when my intelligence and loyalty are questioned publicly, it triggers a reaction. If someone takes a swing at you, the inclination is to swing back.

You can’t make almost zero effort with your customer base for over a decade and then threaten them when they disengage. That’s not how business works, and that’s not how life works. I assume TNE will now go through the final two stages of grief. There must be some faction of TNE that is forlorn at the public reaction to “Forever Winnipeg”, but hopefully this leads to acceptance. Acceptance that they must do more to entice a blue-collar town to spend its hard-earned money on a team and an organization that hasn’t reciprocated the love.

The Jets “90’s night” is a perfect example of the small measures that can make Jets fans happy. That was great. Reducing concession prices meaningfully would also help. But mainly, treat fans with the dignity and respect they deserve.

Next. A Vegas style breakdown of the Jets vs. Golden Knights playoff matchup. dark

Winnipeg loves the Winnipeg Jets, and this year’s whiteout will once again prove that fact. It’s just that their love remains unrequited. Outside of a Nicholas Sparks novel, nobody is interested in that.