September 2023 Party in the Back Podcast

Jon Cudo and Rob Wicall talk about Secret Handshake promotions and their role in building exclusivity and unity with your fans. Hear how these promotions can turn customers into family, plus the amazing draft story of Japanese Hockey Legend Taro Tsujimoto.

Jon Cudo is joined by Rob Wicall for the September 2023 Party in the Back. With more than 50 years working in game operations and sports entertainment Cudo and Wicall have some well considered opinions and a plethora of examples to draw from.  This month Rob Wicall turns the tables on Cudo and snatches the hosting reigns for most of the podcast to talk about Cudo’s new article called Secret Handshakes.

Secret Handshakes are not limited to literal handshakes. Cudo writes about promotions that will only work for your fans in your market, creating a bond with your fans.  We look at how these next level promotions can build a bond with fans and create a sense of exclusivity, camaraderie, and unity. 

Rob adds how these coded creations extend to mascot performance and team’s entire shows as well with a flurry of examples from across sports.  Changing the customer relationship from people who buy a ticket to watch into FANS who buy a ticket to belong.

Rob notes in sports “Fans want to be a part of the team and the show,” adding part of a mascot’s role is to let them in. These promotions act in the same way.

After a short break Cudo wrestles back hosting control of the podcast to talk about two memorable promotions from the Buffalo Bisons and Brooklyn Cyclones.  Plus, we stumble upon a hilarious example of a Secret Handshake from the 1970’s Buffalo Sabres….the draft story of Japanese Legend Taro Tsujimoto (see the TikTok below for more).

A great conversation that may change how you think about your promotions and leave you searching for your secret handshake with fans.

Thanks for listening and sharing the podcast.  

Related Links

    • Last Month on the Podcast: Kaz Egan, Justin Jett and Cameron Hughes shine on the August 2023 Party in the Back with host Jon Cudo. We talk about a big promotion with the Lake Elsinore Storm, discuss who is inspiring teams creativity, authenticity, social media and more.
    • One Year Ago on the Party in the Back Podcast: This month we Party with Timberwolves VP of Fan Experience Jeff Munneke. Munn shares the Wolves plans for random acts of kindness, the importance of listening to your fan base and the value of a good swim cap. Plus a dose of crowd igniter Cameron Hughes.
    • Five Years Ago on The Podcast: Charlotte Checkers VP Paul Branecky talk about their 2018-19 promo calendar. Rob Wicall joins to look at the cost of upsetting Millennials and the value in mascot playoff beards.
    • Ten Years Ago on The Podcast: Cudo and Walker debate the recent flap over a fake marriage proposal at a New Britain Rock Cats game, as well as look at Swords, Sharks, and Sail-gaiting in a promotional review.
    • An Obscure Promotion in Buffalo – An obscure and fun promotion from the Bison, which costs about as much as it does to read this post.
    • More Seinfeld Heroics from Brooklyn – Incredible night of on-field contest highlight Seinfeld Night in Brooklyn.
    • e-Gino Time in Boston – You should be dancin’ … yeah. Boston Celtics secret dancing club.
    • Recap: An Avalanche of Creativity with Steve Johnston – Steve Johnston from the Colorado Avalanche and Kroenke Sports & Entertainment shares insight into taking chances, pushing creativity and championship-level game presentation.
    • Recap: Traditions with Harlem Globetrotters Zoltan Berensci – Harlem Globetrotters Zoltan Berencsi joins to talk about building game experience traditions. We looked at several traditions from the Trotters and sports, why they are important and how to build them.
    • Huddle 2.0 – Fan Supporter Sections – Fans Groups can become the Heartbeat of your Crowd. Our panel looks at these Fan Supporter Sections, how they are built, their value, how to entice your management to invest and how the groups can build home field advantage for you. Expert panel includes Steven van Vooght, Molly Zaluski, Johnny Watson and Ryan Madayag.
    • Fresno Keeps on Truckin – The EPIC Taco Truck Throwdown just keeps getting bigger and better.


We want Taro! Wild story here. #cards #hockey #thehobby

♬ I Got 5 On It – Tethered Mix from US – Michael Abels & Luniz

Secret Handshakes

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The Party in the Back Podcast:  If Sports Marketing was a mullet hairdo this podcast covers ‘The Party in the Back‘. We’ll let someone else do the data, analytics, spreadsheets and budgets… We’re talking about the FUN: In-game contests, theme nights, mascots, dancers, social media, atmosphere and giveaways. Join us at the Party in the Back for our monthly discussion with industry leaders on the fun side of Sports Marketing.

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