Van Andel Arena’s “Thank You Cards for the Troops” Campaign wins Publicity

Campaign of the Year at Event & Arena Marketing Conference (EAMC) Awards

June 20, 2018

Grand Rapids — One of the live entertainment industry’s biggest professional events, the 39thAnnual Event & Arena Marketing Conference, was held in Las Vegas last week, and the SMG staff at Van Andel Arena® did not come home empty handed as their “Thank You Cards for the Troops” campaign was named the Publicity Campaign of the Year.


Venue marketers, promoters and publicists from across North America submitted entries in four different categories prior to the conference to be judged by industry experts in hopes of being recognized at the EAMC Awards held at the conference. This is the first time that SMG Grand Rapids has been honored with an EAMC Award and the second time being named as a finalist. 


In November of last year, Van Andel Arena asked fans to drop off “thank you” cards at each of their events throughout the month for a chance to win two tickets to Trans-Siberian Orchestra in December. Using email marketing, social media, and mobile app push notifications as well as on-air messaging on 94.5 NASH FM to generate awareness of the campaign, the arena was able to collect over 450 cards from fans to send to the troops. They also collected cards from visitors of the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum and Grand Rapids Civic Theatre. Additionally, they collected cards from local elementary schools, some of which used the opportunity to teach students about the military.


The campaign was inspired by NASH FM’s nationally syndicated Ty, Kelly & Chuck Mornings, which responded with a hand-written “thank you” card. The show also kicked off the arena’s on-sale for Sugarland on August 10 by producing a city-specific video and running a ticket giveaway on air.


SMG employees named in the award submission were Director of Marketing Hilarie Szarowicz, Marketing Manager Alison Goodyke, Promotions and Special Events Manager Rebecca Chesnut, and Digital Marketing Coordinator Mike Klompstra. Szarowicz and Goodyke were in Las Vegas to accept the award.


“We’re so honored in Grand Rapids to be recognized with this industry-wide award. It is an excellent representation of the hard work Hilarie and her team, as well as the rest of the SMG staff in Grand Rapids, put in day in and day out,” said SMG Regional General Manager at Van Andel Arena Richard MacKeigan. “This is not just a reflection of our marketing department and staff here; it is a reflection of the support from the Grand Rapids-Kent County Convention/Arena Authority, SMG corporate, and the West Michigan community that spent the time and effort making the cards, as well as the enthusiasm from NASH’s Ty, Kelly and Chuck. This is not just our achievement, it is their achievement as well. Congratulations to everyone!”

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