Arena Takes It To The Streets

February 22, 2008
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GRAND RAPIDS — SMG plans to literally hit the road soon with a new marketing tool for Van Andel Arena: a bus wrap.

SMG Marketing Director Lynne Ike has unwrapped the wrap and said the new tool is a Rapid Transit bus painted with the arena’s name and logo that carries three billboards to promote events coming to the building.

But what separates this wrap from previous ones, Ike said, is that the billboards can be changed on a daily basis, and the route can be altered to travel through neighborhoods where an event is likely to have more appeal to those residents.

“To some extent, it’s zip-code marketing,” said SMG Regional General Manager Rich MacKeigan.

MacKeigan said SMG has been working with the Interurban Transit Partnership on the marketing concept for more than a year. The Convention and Arena Authority came up with the funding for the wrap.

MacKeigan said having the bus promote events in targeted areas of the city gives him a competitive boost over other venues when working with show promoters. All buildings, he said, offer online services, premiums seats and other amenities, so anything that gives him an edge is a plus for the arena.

“The more things I have in a stable of marketing tools, the more events I can book,” he said.

Ike said the arena had seven sellouts last year, and the building is on track to top that number. Six are already on the books this year, with plenty of time left in the year.

“We’ve found out, even in the economy we have, there are events people still want to see,” she said.

MacKeigan said four upcoming shows — two each from Kenny Chesney and the Trans Siberian Orchestra — should give the building four more sellouts, if the artists’ recent track records in the arena hold true this year.

“It’s shaping up to be another good year for the arena,” said Ike.

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