Portland Timbers fans cheering

Onward! to Providence Park with the Portland Timbers marketing team

The Portland Timbers have one of the most dynamic in-match atmospheres in Major League Soccer. They have sold out over 90 straight regular season home matches, an annual season ticket renewal rate of over 97%, a season ticket wait list of 12,000+ people, and they are coming off the franchise’s first MLS Cup.

One of the cornerstones of the organization’s growth has been the fan base—they have the most passionate supporters in North America. As one fan said in a video celebrating five years since the iconic Fan Axe Portraits campaign, “Instead of being a customer, you actually feel like you’re a part of the whole thing.” The whole thing being not just the campaign, but the Timbers family.

The Fan Axe Portraits are a perfect example of the kinds of programs the Portland Timbers have developed to not only grow the brand, but also to engage and activate their community of fans. Over two weekends, thousands of fans lined up for hours at Providence Park to get a professionally staged photograph in the style of the team’s campaign from their inaugural season in the MLS.

In 2015, as the Portland Timbers celebrated 40 years as a team and five years in the MLS, it was the party atmosphere more than anything that motivated those fans to share their portraits through social media, creating an incredible rippling effect for the campaign. I know because I was one of them.

Author Derek Phillips and his family in their Fan Axe portrait

It’s this kind of fan engagement that fuels the marketing of the Portland Timbers and also the game day experience. We’re excited for the opportunity to take a Delight conference field trip to Providence Park, home of the 2015 MLS Cup champion Portland Timbers, where we’ll meet with the Timbers marketing team and learn about their approach to marketing and developing “community.”

Led by Cory Dolich, Senior Vice President of Business Operations & Marketing at Portland Timbers & Portland Thorns FC, we’ll tour the beautiful and historic Providence Park before convening at the Key Bank Club to learn about the history of the team and club ethos. We’ll then walk through some case studies with Q&A, including the Fan Axe Portraits.

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