WNBA Team Bows ‘Star Campaign’

Mintz & Hoke is betting it can leverage a regional passion for women’s basketball to attract fans to the 10,000-seat Mohegan Sun Arena for the Connecticut Sun, the state’s new WNBA franchise.

The Mohegan Tribal Authority, which owns and operates the arena and the Mohegan Sun casino, both in Uncasville, Conn., bought the franchise from the WNBA for an estimated $10 million in January. The Sun previously played in Orlando, Fla.

Avon, Conn.-based Mintz, which handles Mohegan Sun’s public relations, last week launched an estimated high-six-figure print, radio, online and outdoor effort. The work is aimed at women 35 and over, the league’s principal demographic, and is running in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

Two 60-second radio spots hype Sun players Rebecca Lobo, Katie Douglas and Shannon Johnson. An announcer calls out their names and career highlights—e.g., Lobo led the UConn Huskies to the 1995 national championship—in an over-the-top style as the crowd goes wild.

A “star campaign” to encourage fans to bond with players is a smart strategy, said Boston-based consultant Bink Garrison, whose Ingalls agency once handled the NBA’s Celtics.

Mintz believes the Sun can overcome the apathy that sometimes dooms women’s sports teams because of the region’s long- standing passion for basketball.

“Connecticut is the nation’s No. 1 women’s basketball market,” said shop representative Tom Bradley. “The UConn Huskies have a tremendous statewide fan base, and in the days of the old ABL, the New England Blizzard was a financial and fan success.”

The 7-year-old WNBA drew a record 2.4 million fans last year.