BPAA aims to change perception of bowling

Henry Lewczyk, VP of marketing for the Bowling Proprietors' Association of America (BPAA), explains public perception of bowling didn't match realities of the business.

Client: Bowling Proprietors' Association of America
Agency:  MWW Group
Campaign: Changing the perception of bowling
Duration: January 2009 - ongoing
Budget: Under $500,000

Henry Lewczyk, VP of marketing for the Bowling Proprietors' Association of America (BPAA), explains public perception of bowling didn't match realities of the business. Early last year BPAA, which represents about 3,500 bowling center owners, and AOR MWW Group set out to correct misperceptions and attract new customers and corporate sponsors.

The perception was that bowlers are older males,” Lewczyk says. “The average bowler is about 29 years old, and half the audience is female. About 20 million are between the ages of six and 17.”

Lewczyk adds that more than 67 million people bowled in the US in 2008, and non-league customers represent more than 50% of business. MWW group VP Joe Cohen says the team aimed to increase corporate awareness of BPAA's large and diverse customer base.

Strategy
The consumer story and the business story were told through media relations, events, and spokespeople.

“We clearly articulated the true nature of bowling from an experiential and business level to shatter misperceptions,” Cohen says. 

Consumer messaging emphasized customer base diversity and the fun of bowling. Business messages stressed industry growth and BPAA reach.

Tactics
The team first focused on driving coverage in top tier national media, which Cohen says drove regional and blog coverage.

Established events, such as National Bowling Week in September and NFL the Super Bowl Celebrity Bowling Classic on February 4, 2010, were leveraged to drive awareness and traffic to centers.

Spokespeople who represent bowling customer diversity, including youth, families, and celebrities, attended events and conducted interviews. They included pro bowlers Lynda and Chris Barnes, and their kids; 12-year-old junior pro bowler Anthony Simonson; and NFL Hall of Famer Lynn Swann.

Bowlopolis, a loyalty program that includes an animated DVD series and website, launched at BPAA centers last year.

Results
More than 69.3 million people bowled in 2009, up 4.6% from 2008, Lewczyk reports. A BPAA survey revealed a 5.7% increase in consumers who consider themselves “frequent bowlers.” Lewczyk says member centers report increased revenue in 2009 compared to 2008.  

Cohen says Jolly Time popcorn and Tony's Pizza signed BPAA sponsorship deals last year, and Pepsi renewed its sponsorship. Media impressions included outlets such as AP, CNN, and USA Today.

Future
Cohen says digital focus will increase this year. The team is preparing a new national promotion that will culminate during National Bowling Week, which begins July 31.

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