Attention Chicago Bulls fans—the game is now only a text away!

Whenever I travel internationally and someone finds out I’m from Chicago, the conversation goes something like this:

Me: “Why yes, I am American.  I’m from Chicago.”

Friendly International Stranger: “Oh, Chicago:  Al Capone!  Michael Jordan!”

Chicago, it would seem, is world famous for gangsters and sports stars.  Talk about brand identity!  (I’d ask where Chicago style deep-dish pizza fits in, but that’s another post.)

What gets me most excited about my job is seeing new and creative ways to tap into the fundamental connection between an audience and their favorite brand and then extending that connection into something bigger than the sum of its parts. It’s all about connecting, and the Chicago Bulls—six-time world champions, 3rd most valuable NBA franchise, beloved the world over—have come up with an exciting new way for fans to connect to them on game day on their own terms and timeline.

Before this latest foray into mobile, here’s how a typical fan stayed connected:

If you’re lucky enough to see the Bulls play in person, congratulations…you’re one of the 20,917 fans at the United Center (not including standing room).  Didn’t score tickets?  You may be one of the 144K HH who regularly watch Bulls games on Comcast SportsNet Chicago (or perhaps on WGN-TV, WCIU, or nationally on TNT or ESPN).  Everyone else?  Sure, you can stream the game on your computer or listen on the radio, but that experience is location-based—if you have to leave the location your experience changes.

Now think mobile.  You can be anywhere—and I mean anywhere—and still stay connected to what’s going on in the game in real time through your mobile phone.  That’s an experience for the over 280MM wireless subscribers in the US, or at least the slice of that pie who love the Bulls (probably a very big slice, but what can I say, I’m from Chicago).  Following the game on the mobile web, through apps or in social media is great, but maybe you don’t have time for the whole “virtual game experience”…you just need the top-line updates, and you need ‘em fast.  And smart phones, though rapidly growing, still only make up 28% of the total wireless handsets according to comScore (MobiLens Audience Profile, January 2011).  So, the Bulls’ mission was to give their fans choices that fit their life style and circumstances on game day.

The interactive folks over at the Chicago Bulls are pretty savvy marketers. They partnered with us to create real-time game scores and player stats via text messaging.  For the first time, Bulls fans can simply text SCORE to BULLS (28557) and receive (for example): 4th Qtr 10:58 – Bulls 101, Hawks 62. Leaders: Rose 30pts, Gibson 8reb, Rose 10ast.  Working together we’ve merged technology, passion and a desire to create a meaningful fan experience.  Ask any fan and we’re sure they’ll say, “Score one for the Bulls!”.

Okay, it may not be as exciting as texting Michael Jordan or Derrick Rose directly, but the ability to reach out to your favorite team and immediately receive exactly what you want, when you want it, from wherever you are, is both powerful and valuable.  The fan-team connection is at the heart of empowering choice in the world of consumer-driven content delivery.

Check it out—the next time you’re at dinner with friends during a Bulls game, text SCORE to BULLS (28557) and impress everyone with your insider-like knowledge of the current score, Rose’s points and Noah’s rebounds.

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