Dec 17, 2010 at 01:40 PM
written by Brian Gainor

The Thrashers Look to Sell Tickets By Putting Their Mascot In Jail

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Sports organizations are certainly going the extra distance to sell tickets these days.

On Wednesday, the Atlanta Thrashers launched a "Free Thrash!" viral campaign on their team website encouraging fans to purchase ticket packages around the holidays to free their mascot from jail.

While some may question the morality of a campaign, it seems to be paying off. The Thrashers have generated nationwide attention via major media outlets and have generated 14,000+ likes on Facebook. The marketing campaign is very unique but it will be interesting to see if the team is able to hit their ticket goals with such an indirect call-to-action...

But is it worth young fans potentially seeing their favorite team mascot in handcuffs and behind bars, especially in a day and age where sports organizations have a tough time keeping their players, mascots, and personnel out of legal troubles? Only time will tell. This campaign is very risky and could be very fruitful or might backfire in a big way.

Here's how they did it:

8:05am (Wednesday, Dec. 15th): The Thrashers released a staged news report (viral piece) that featured the team's mascot, Thrash, getting arrested and placed in the back of a police car after stealing a zamboni and leading Gwinnett County police on a slow-speed interstate chase. Thrash was apparently frustrated that the team wasn't getting the attention it deserved after moving into fifth place in the Eastern Conference and decided to steal a zamboni from the team's practice facility in Duluth, GA and drive it 25 miles down the interstate to Philips Arena

11:05am (Wednesday, Dec. 15th): The Thrashers released a second viral piece from the Gwinnett County Courthouse that featured a judge offering an ultimatum that the Thrashers must sell 5,000 additional tickets to the remaining December home games to get Thrash released from jail. Fans have an option of choosing (1) of (2) options to help Thrash out:

Purchase tickets to any of the team's five remaining games in December Share the holiday spirit and make a $50, $100, or $250 ticket package donation to a local charity

The Thrashers are continuing to drive momentum around the Free Thrash! campaign with Facebook and updates and the release of a few special videos, like the one enclosed below:

Brian Gainor is a passionate sports marketer with agency experience as well as an extensive background working in the NFL, NFL Europe, and collegiate athletics. As a Sports Partnership Activation Consultant, Brian created Partnership Activation, Inc. to provide sports business professionals with "industry best practices" - creative ideas that provide opportunities to generate incremental revenue.