Chicago Bulls test opt-in mobile effort

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The Chicago Bulls NBA franchise launched a mobile initiative March 30 that allows fans to text in to receive real-time game updates, scores and player statistics via mobile phone.

The team will use this effort to influence how it will use its opt-in mobile database in future marketing campaigns, but it will not distribute marketing materials to consumers immediately, said Jeremy Thum, director of interactive marketing at the Chicago Bulls.

“This is just a fan test,” he said. “Let's see how the fans use it and let's see how many people adopt it before we bombard them with advertising.”

The team worked with Chicago-based mobile marketing firm Vibes Media to give fans the ability to receive self-driven live game scores. The functionality distributes real-time information from the NBA's game feed via text message to consumers who opt-in to the program by texting “score” to 28557, which spells “Bulls.”

“This is step one to our approach to putting fans in the driver's seat to customize what information they want to receive and when they want to receive it,” said Thum. “This allows fans to drive actual messaging. This is the first step toward creating a customized menu of options for fans.”

Fans can also pull real-time statistics for a particular player by texting his last name to the number.

“This is about providing more power to the fans,” said Alex Campbell, cofounder and CEO of Vibes Media. “Primarily when businesses think of mobile, it's about people signing up for an opt-in list and getting information when the companies think they want it. Now consumers can request information when they want it.”

Vibe's clients include Verizon Wireless, Best Buy and AT&T. The firm has worked with the Bulls for three years.

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