Hunt Adkins Looks To Capitalize On Timberwolves’ Rebuilding

Hunt Adkins Looks To Capitalize On Timberwolves’ Rebuilding

The comeback is part of a four-year plan.

The Strategy

Minnesota’s boys of summer languished near last place—again. The Vikings are falling to one of their worst seasons yet.

So this winter, starved for a winner, fans eagerly turned to the Timberwolves, who seem on the verge of emerging from a dreary decade of irrelevancy. This comeback is part of a four-year plan, says Patrick Hunt, president and CEO of Minneapolis-based Hunt Adkins, a 40-person, $40 million ad agency that created the current campaign for the Wolves.

For much of the three previous years “we didn’t have players to sell, so we had to sell his vision,” Hunt says. “His” refers to much-maligned general manager David Kahn, who led the Wolves until former coach Flip Saunders took the reins last year.

“Major stars had left, we had a tired building and there was a lack of performance,” says Hunt. So they went with a novel approach: honesty. In fact, in an early ad from the four-year campaign the Wolves admitted they would not make the playoffs.

The creative

But this year, promises the spots, “We’re ready.” And fans were urged to get themselves ready by buying a flex pack of tickets. The bus/skyway ads, showing an intense Kevin Love in a practice jersey, show a bar chart measuring sweat, jump shots, cardio, “chill’n” and shaving (barely measurable for the hirsute hoop star). A similar execution (with a similarly bearded Ricky Rubio) shows him lifting weights alongside a pie chart measuring “gallons of sweat,” no-look passes, jump shots, running, international games played and “learning to use the force.”

“Right now leveraging infographics is a really big digital trend,” says Hunt. “We were trying to talk about how hard the entire team is working because we finally have all the puzzle pieces together.”

Hunt says the mission is to fill seats in Target Center, not on couches. So some of the digital extensions urge fans to “Watch the game on a 94-foot widescreen,” alluding to the length of the court.

Making the players’ preparation accessible was important for fans, Hunt says. “When you start to break down those barriers and show these athletes as real people, you create a community—which is what branding is all about,”

He should know: His agency was behind the popular and widely remembered “Get to know ’em” campaign for the Twins.

The buy

Billings weren’t disclosed for the multimedia effort, which was preceded by TV last spring. Media include radio, online, print and place-based media—“the full gamut,” according to Hunt.

After the full gamut of setbacks in prior seasons, the Wolves—and Hunt Adkins—stand a chance of being big winners this winter.