1.0 The Challenge
Four years after an image-corroding failed arena effort, the Orlando Magic launched a new drive to replace the NBA’s fourth oldest facility. It was an effort that appeared nearly impossible due to the team’s reputation – the head coach had just been fired, ticket sales were lagging, and the team’s standing with state politicians and local leaders was shaky. The enormous challenge was that we not only had to persuade local politicians and voters to support a massive publicly financed arena, but we had to improve the franchise’s public image at the same time.
2.0 Strategy and Tactics
We conducted extensive opinion research to study the public’s view of the Magic and the hopes Orlandoans had for their community. The voters, while they weren’t keen on the Magic, definitely believed it was past time for a portion of the city’s tourist tax revenue to benefit its own citizens rather than multi-national businesses on I-Drive. We persuaded team officials that they could not lobby their way to an arena – they had to partner with the public for a selfless goal. A catchy image enhancement campaign for the franchise followed by a partnership with community and grassroots groups allowed us to re-brand the Magic and successfully frame this as an investment in everyone who calls Orlando home.
Two years after it began, a campaign that seemed impossible succeeded without caveats. The Orlando Magic secured a $475 million public investment in a new arena – while improving their own public image in the process. Now that’s Magic.