ARLINGTON, Texas – While the steps might be slow and calculated, local and state governments are easing COVID-19 restrictions and allowing people to return to many of the places and activities they enjoy.
As business resumes at bowling centers across the country, and leagues and tournaments begin to come together for the approaching summer or upcoming 2021-2022 season, the United States Bowling Congress, Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America and Strike Ten Entertainment are working together to rebuild the sport and help keep bowling on the minds of those who have been away from the lanes.
The three organizations, all headquartered at the International Bowling Campus, have agreed to invest a substantial amount of marketing dollars on an initial six-month communication campaign that will remind bowlers how much they’ve been missed and offer support and information as they get more comfortable with the idea of returning to competition.
“We know the time may not be right for everyone to get back to league and tournament bowling, but we definitely want all of our members to know we’ve been thinking about them and will save them a spot in the settee,” USBC Executive Director Chad Murphy said. “Bowling has given so many of us great friendships and a lifetime of memories, and there have been some inspirational stories over the past year of bowlers helping bowlers through this challenging time. We know rebuilding will take patience and time, and we look forward to seeing everyone reconnect under better circumstances and get back to focusing on the fun.”
The joint effort kicked off in February with a postcard to more than 400,000 bowlers, who most likely took the season off due to the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, excluding a few states that have been mostly shut down due to government restrictions until recently.
The campaign will reach the bowlers in a variety of creative ways, including direct mail, web ads, email, social media and videos, ultimately creating more than 3 million communication touch points over this initial phase of the campaign.
Monitoring the success of each aspect of the campaign will help direct future efforts, which will continue into the 2021-2022 bowling season.
Whether the bowlers are in it for the camaraderie and a night out or they’re the fiercest of competitors, the messages all are designed to be a nostalgic reminder of all the things to love about bowling.
Even for those who may be waiting until the start of the new season to officially return to formal competition, a friendly, bowling-themed reminder could get the ball rolling on getting that game back in shape.
Or, a day on the lanes with friends and family might be the perfect setting for a socially distanced reunion.
“Bowling is making a great comeback after a challenging year, and we want everyone to know the proprietors have been working to create an environment that is safe and encouraging for customers to ease back into the sport and a routine we’re all used to,” BPAA Executive Director Frank DeSocio said. “Stop by your local center to see how they’re doing. Maybe bowl a game or two. Have lunch at the restaurant or take something to go. Bowlers are a resilient group, but it will take some teamwork to help get things back to normal.”
The outreach campaign from USBC, BPAA and Strike Ten will work hand in hand with efforts already taking place in bowling communities across the country.
USBC has seen a variety of great activations on a grassroots level from its local and state associations, including developing GoFundMe pages, donating league money to centers, local direct mail campaigns and more.
Also, in December, USBC introduced a financial aid program to help local and state associations minimize some of the losses experienced due to COVID-19 shutdowns.
Local associations can use the money for things that will help them emerge from the pandemic on stable footing, while the state associations will be able to add prize money to their championship tournaments.
To all USBC members who have been bowling this year, you probably noticed your league was missing a few smiling faces. We encourage you to also reach out to your friends and teammates who may have taken some additional time off and invite them to the next tournament or league meeting.
About International Bowling Campus
The International Bowling Campus (IBC) is the headquarters for the bowling industry and directly serves the more than 69 million bowlers in the United States. The IBC houses the resources of the United States Bowling Congress, the governing body and membership organization for the sport; the Bowling Proprietors’ Association of America, representing the business interests of bowling centers; IBC Youth Development; Strike Ten Entertainment, the marketing arm for the industry; the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame; the International Bowling Pro Shop and Instructors Association; the International Bowling Media Association; the Bowling News Network; the Billiard and Bowling Institute of America; Bowlers Journal International and Bowling Center Management, the industry’s premier magazines; and the International Training and Research Center.
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