Despite challenges posed from having no fans in the stadium this season, the 49ers have continued to innovate in how they interact with their fanbase, setting an example across the NFL.
The 49ers have partnered with legend Jerry Rice and The Escape Game to create an interactive experience that is perfect for the family spending time together this holiday, as well as those forced to commune via Zoom.
The escape-room-style game comes after nearly five months of preparation and development, and is free to season ticket holders and $25 for everyone else. In a poll conducted by the 49ers organization, they found 27% of fans feel more connected by virtual events, and saw this as an opportunity to connect with fans anywhere, any time, as well as increase value to season ticket holders.
“The game is best played with a group,” says 49ers Director of Brand Marketing Allie Dicken, “and could take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour or more, depending on how fast you can solve the different puzzles and your knowledge of the 49ers.”
The game builds upon the 49ers commitment to their fanbase, which began with the unveiling of their Faithful To The Bay campaign in September. While every team has had to struggle with less or no fans this year, what sets the 49ers apart is their continued innovation with the ways in which they reach their fanbase, especially the youth.
This season, the 49ers have been very active in the music space and became the first NFL team to own and operate their own verified Spotify account. Using their ‘Faithful to The Bay’ playlist, they are able to highlight artists from the Bay Area and feature songs about the Bay, as well as engage with a wider demographic and get a pulse on their active, younger audience.
With the newly released Verified Faithful video series, the Niners were again the first NFL club to have a celebrity focused interview series. Presented by Levi Strauss & Co., the series targets next-gen 49ers fans and highlights those fandoms, in addition to giving the artists a platform to share more of what they are up to in their career.
When the NFL brought influencer marketing to every franchise last year, the 49ers wanted to create a series that was more personal and connected to FTTB. “We were trying to be very organic, to be able to dive deeper into relationships with fans of our team,” Dicken told SFist in an interview, “rather than just something surface level or sharing an image.”
Levi’s works with each artist in the series to make a donation to a Bay Area charity that is important to them. The 49ers and Levi's have continued to build on their commitment to serving their communities, and have gone above and beyond the initial pledge made at the beginning of the season.
“It’s awesome working with Levi’s,” Dicken said. “They too have a huge focus on cultural marketing. We have very similar objectives as brands and it creates a really nice pairing, being able to support each others’ objectives. They’re an amazing partner with us, being rooted in the Bay Area as well.”
The 49ers could have never predicted empty seats at each game this year, but they had a lot of fun activating with their fans and the cutouts each weekend (before relocating). Each fan cutout sold for $149 and was up for the duration of the season, with proceeds benefiting the 49ers Foundation. In addition to including a wide range of celebrities and famous Niner-faithful, the team got creative around different NFL themes, collecting images of cancer warriors and positioning them in the shape of a ribbon in the stands for Crucial Catch.
As the 49ers get set to mark their 75th anniversary next year, they will focus more on recognizing history and are overjoyed to be able to get into the community in person and do even more. One thing that will remain the same from this year to next: the franchise’s commitment to The Faithful.
The 49ers finish up their season with perennial rival the Seattle Seahawks this Sunday at 1:25 PM PST.