In the spring of 2010 the Miami HEAT were approaching a crossroads. Their franchise player, Dwyane Wade, was nearing the end of his contract; free agency loomed and a bevy of suitors were lined up to court the NBA All Star.
In a bid to ensure Wade would think twice about leaving Miami, the HEAT elected to prove to their superstar just how much he meant to the team, and ultimately, the City of Miami.
"We know how important Dwyane Wade is not only to our team, but to the South Florida community as a whole. Our mission was to provide Wade fans with several easy ways to share their appreciation and The Factory Interactive was an ideal partner for this project, as they understood the ideas and timeliness of our project –and able to execute our vision in a matter of days."Michael McCullough
Executive Vice President of Marketing,
The Miami HEAT
Other than by throwing heaping sums of cash at the problem, how else might a professional sports organization retain the singularly most important member of their team during a bidding frenzy? With several teams jockeying for position in order to lure Dwyane Wade away from Miami, the stage was set to appeal to the All Star's heart rather than his pocketbook. Would an outpouring of emotion help keep number 3 in a HEAT jersey?
Working directly with the Miami HEAT, we developed a public space where Dwyane Wade fans could gather, leave notes, tweet, upload videos, call or email their praise and love for, arguably, the City's most important sports icon. The We Want Wade campaign was launched with a modest placement of three billboards in and around areas of town Wade would be sure to catch them: en route to and from his home and the American Airlines Arena. The billboards also directed fans to the WeWantWade.com web site where their true feelings could be expressed, collected and shared with Wade and the City at large.
Fans flocked to the new site and began sharing their admiration, heart-felt thanks and apprehension that "Flash" would make a move to another team. Videos and emails began to stream in, tweets began to circulate and ESPN picked up on the momentum quickly building behind the site. Within a few short hours, the site would be serving thousands of requests and collecting dozens of messages and videos every second. It was almost too much to handle. Before the dust had settled on the first day, even Dwyane Wade himself submitted a message to his fans - touched by the outpouring of emotion.
Requests for We Want Wade fans kits containing posters, stickers, and wristbands, more than quintupled expectations; thousands of messages, videos, emails, tweets and phone calls had been fielded, reviewed and posted to the site. Two days before his free agency period was set to begin, Wade returned once again to the site - this time to announce, via his own uploaded video, that he would, in fact, be staying in a Miami HEAT uniform!
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