Björklöven – The True Colors

Summary: An ice hockey club faced with scandal and poor results. Fans who are losing faith. A critical public. How can we reverse this downward trend? Solution: we stop talking about games/players and instead focus on backbone, values and feelings. True coloursurges players and spectators to stand up for who they are and what they believe in. Public support picks up, the fanbase grows and hockey is no longer just about hockey.

Challenge: Björklöven’s season ended in sporting failure, with the club finishing 12th out of 14 in Sweden’s second-tier ice hockey league. More bad luck followed: accusations of fraud, police investigations and media scandals. The public was critical, and the fans – previously devoted, loyal and numerous – despaired. This trend needed to be reversed, with the aim of achieving a positive turnaround in engagement and loyalty.

Strategy: Punkt PR came up with a new direction for the club’s brand communication, shifting the focus from sport to values. The strategy involved establishing a clear set of values within the club that could then be revealed to the public. We defined these values with the aid of three calls to action, linked to fundamental democratic values:

  • Stand up! Stand up for what you think and believe in.
  • Welcome newcomers! Everyone who wants to be involved can be.
  • Demonstrate fair play! We do our best to be good winners, but also good losers.

Solution: These values and challenges are brought together in the True colours concept, which is visually tied to Björklöven’s original colours – yellow and green. Once the concept was established internally, we organised a number of activities to publicly debate Björklöven’s position and values. The campaign kicked off with a change of match kit, with Björklöven unveiling a new green/yellow kit. We also initiated a public debate about what the yellow and the green actually represent. We continued this debate with films, in posts on digital channels, and in adverts and posters printed in some of the region’s most widely spoken languages (e.g. English, Polish, Finnish, Arabic and Sami).

Results: In forums and on news sites that usually discuss hockey, topics suddenly included pride, values, diversity and equality, and when the first match of the season was played on 16 September, Umeå (Björklöven’s home city) was a sea of green and yellow – and spectators flooded in.

Target figures linked to loyalty and engagement:

  • We sold 22 per cent more season tickets than before last season. Target figure: + 5 per cent
  • We increased sales of souvenirs by 30 per cent compared with the same period last year. Target figure: + 20 per cent
  • We increased the rate of engagement on Facebook by 15 per cent compared with the same period the year before. Target figure: + 10 per cent
  • We achieved an estimated PR value for published editorial material during the period of EUR 1.2 million. Target figure: EUR 0.8 million

The True Colors campaign has been nominated and awarded, nationally and internationally, in competitions such as Spinn, Sabre Awards and the European Excellence Awards (EMEA). The most granting thing about this campaign though is to see how it now lives on through the club and its fans.