Customer Spotlight: Chicago Red Stars
Blinkfire has been lucky to call the Chicago Red Stars customers since 2021. The Red Stars are one of the original eight teams that formed the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) in 2013. Through our partnership with the Red Stars, we work directly with their marketing and sales/partnerships departments, helping them grow on social media, find new sponsorship opportunities, and show their value to existing partners. This month, we spoke with the Red Stars about their successful kit launch in March and how they think about their brand on social media. Enjoy!
The Red Stars had a successful next kit launch in March with the “Foundation” kit. Take us behind the scenes from kit creation to content strategy and the meaning behind the new kit.
In the fall of 2022, we reached out to our freelance designer Jackie Le, who has been working for the Red Stars since 2019 and had a big ask — design our upcoming home kit for the 2023 season. Most kits have at least a one-year lead time, but Le was up for the challenge. She submitted a final with only two draft revisions!
The “Foundation” jersey represents the bedrock of the foundational framework being laid, as we prepare to enter a new chapter for the club. It sets the building blocks for the Red Stars’ future while paying tribute to the city we call home. We also made sure to focus on unique traits of Chicago in the design.
For the photoshoot club photography manager Gretchen Schneider built the creative direction, wanting a mix of Chicago street fashion and Red Stars grit. The location was none other than CIBC’s office in Chicago — who is also our front-of-jersey sponsor.
Our marketing department then rolled out the content strategy behind the launch — which happened in Mid-March.
The Red Stars jersey launch happened on Wednesday, March 15. Based on data in Blinkfire, the team’s owned and operated channels earned more than 13,300 engagements across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Average engagement per post saw a 483% increase compared to the Red Stars’ year-to-date average engagement per post.
How do the Red Stars think about social media growth and content creation?
We take an “always on” calendar approach when it comes to social media, meaning we can always find a way to make our brand relevant in the conversation. We’ve intentionally defined our channel marketing strategy and identified which audiences are on each platform, versus a “one-size-fits-all” mindset. We’ve found success through increasing our frequency of posts, diversifying our content by incorporating more high-quality video and lifestyle photos instead of graphics, among other tweaks.
What recent content series are you most proud of and why?
“Question of the day” has been one of our most popular series in terms of engagement. We’ll ask the players a question of the day as they walk into practice, such as “What’s your favorite Gatorade flavor” and get hilarious responses. It shows the player’s personality in a fun, light-hearted way.
How have you built a loyal audience, and how is the growth in women’s sports driving fandom for the NWSL and the Red Stars?
We continue to build a loyal audience, but the growth in women’s sports has given us the opportunity to reach the casual fan through personality-driven player marketing — showcasing a player both on and off the pitch.
Year-to-date, the Red Stars have grown 2% on social media, with TikTok as the top-performing channel for growth seeing a 5.8% increase.
Be sure to catch the Chicago Red Stars at home against the Portland Thorns on Sunday, May 21 at 4PM.
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