After holding auditions for the upcoming season, the Devils took their top three contenders and let the fans vote on who should get the last spot on the dance team. Gabrielle, Sarah and Sarah-Ashley put their fate in the hands of the Devils Army and the winner was revealed at Texas-Arizona in Hoboken this past Tuesday.
This is just another way the Devils have gotten the fans directly involved with the organization. The most obvious fan-focused program is right here, the Devils Generals and Mission Control. This program is the first of its kind in the sports industry and focuses only on interacting with the fans not only through social media, but through viewing parties and making the Digital Zone the cool place to be during intermissions.
With these events along with featuring Fans of the Week, posting photo submissions on their social media pages (have you seen the official Pinterest page recently?), and letting the fans design last season’s playoff towels, you can’t deny the Devils are really focusing on building the fan community.
As for who the fans chose as our newest Devils Dancer – Gabrielle is a Jersey girl from East Hanover and won her spot with more than 14,000 fan votes. Congrats to Gabby, welcome to the Devils Army!
One of the many goals we have had this year at Mission Control is to show that the Devils really are JERSEY’S team. We have made a huge effort to spread our viewing parties around the state so all of our home town fans can have a chance to cheer, have a few drinks and enjoy some great food all in one place… together!
We sat down in August to plan out a schedule, discussed different options with one another about the various counties we come from, and then submitted a poll to our fellow fans to find out where our fans wanted to gather.
Ocean County, specifically the shore area, is the part of Jersey I call home. I couldn’t have been more excited to find a location down by me that would play host to a group of our passionate fans.
Simkos Grill in Brielle answered the call and the response from our shore area/south jersey fans was overwhelming. I lost count of how many fantastic people showed up to watch the game together. Simkos provided us with a beautiful glass enclosed porch, with two large screen TVs and surround sound; we filled the room! With over 100 people in attendance, we even took over a portion of the bar room!
Special guest Jim Dowd made the rounds, chatting with fans, posing for photos and signing autographs. He even let us check out his Stanley Cup Championship ring!
We gave away 4 pairs of tickets to various Devils home games in our raffle, and two lucky fans won themselves autographed sticks. One was signed by Ilya Kovalchuk, and the other signed by Patrik Elias.
As a further surprise, our beloved arena announcer, Kevin Clark, joined in the fun! Kevin told me he had never attended a viewing party before, and since this was nearer to his home, he thought he would come and see what it was all about.
Everyone I spoke to said they really enjoyed themselves, the food and the atmosphere. With the Devils treating us to a strong performance and a big win over Pittsburgh, we were attracting some major attention from the other patrons with our chanting and cheering, too!
With three months left in the regular season, and high hopes that we’ll be able to continue into the playoffs, keep your eyes on our viewing party schedule. If there is any area we haven’t visited, be sure to leave us some ideas in the comments!
I would also like to give a HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who has come to our gatherings so far. To my fellow shore fans, thank you for making our Simkos party such a huge success! Thanks to you, I can envision more events coming to our area in the future!
This past February, Devils management took a big chance by selecting 25 lucky fans with the idea of connecting with Devils fans at a new level. It was a bold move by the Devils organization, because it was something that had not been done before. In fact, most sports teams would likely hesitate to let fans have any “access”, such as the Devils have. The program’s headquarters was named “Mission Control,” which was settled in an unused storage closet in the executive offices of the Prudential Center. Less than a year after the Devils Army Generals’ first blog post hit the web, the Devils and the entire sports world have seen the results of the experiment. As the Sports Business Journal recently reported, Mission Control has helped the organization generate revenue in a unique way.
Mission Control serves as the social media hub for Devils Army. It has revolutionized the organization’s position on social media. Before the introduction of Mission Control, the Devils were not as active with their social media platforms, however, they’re now closing in on 50,000 Twitter followers and 250,000 Facebook fans. That means that this past year has multiplied fans’ following of the Devils through the two social media platforms by five times. This had led to more interaction between the team and the fans, which is the goal of Mission Control.
For me personally, as a fan of the Devils, it’s nice to know that the Devils are as passionate about their fans as the fans are passionate about Jersey’s Team. It’s also nice that the rest of the sports world has noticed what the Devils are doing (no matter what other teams follow the Devils’ lead as far as involving fans, the Devils did it first!), such as ESPN.com’s write-up about Mission Control from May 2011 and more recently, the Devils’ nomination for a PRWeek award. As social media becomes a greater part of the sports world, it has also become a bigger pat of the Devils Army.
So still shy of its official one-year anniversary, Mission Control has already brought the Devils a new identity. They’ve found a unique way to connect with us, Devils fans, and interact with us on a different level than traditionally. What started as a bold chance to take has now become a fixture in Devils marketing. Of course, as with everything in sports marketing, the team keeps looking forward and trying to find new ways to make something good into something even better. Even so, it is certainly worth acknowledging the remarkable milestones reached by the Devils organization this past year.
The Vancouver Canucks and Boston Bruins are fighting for the Holy Grail, the Stanley Cup. Whether you have a rooting interest or not you can not deny that this series of games is always the most exciting to watch. The Devils Generals are hosting a viewing party to watch Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
This Saturday at 8PM, join us at Hells Kitchen in Newark for some hockey and sangria. It’s walking distance from that place we call home (The Rock!) and home to many pre-game parties and events during the regular season. Of course there will be drink specials and giveaways so be there!
Here’s what you need to know:
Saturday, June 4th @ 8PM
– Happy hour drafts
– $15 pitchers of sangria
– $28 bud vessels
– $4 lemon drop shots & $3 bomb shots
Easy, right? RSVP on Facebook or comment to let us know you’re coming along!