Buccaneers play all the virtual reality angles

Bucs chief marketing officer Brian Killingsworth describes how the team has embraced virtual reality.

Bucs chief marketing officer Brian Killingsworth describes how the team has embraced virtual reality.

For the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, virtual reality has become an important tool on and off the field.

The technology initially was used by quarterbacks coach Mike Bajakian to tutor rookie QB Jameis Winston in 2015. Soon they began using it with youth camps to simulate game action.

But the organization quickly realized how VR could boost sales and marketing efforts.

During a presentation to the American Marketing Association of Tampa Bay Tuesday at One Buc Place, Bucs chief marketing officer Brian Killingsworth and director of marketing and brand strategy Carey Cox outlined how the organization has embraced VR.

With major renovations underway at Raymond James Stadium that included massive video boards and enhanced premium seating areas, the sales team needed to be able to show people what the changes would be like in order to make the big-dollar sales while construction was taking place. It created a virtual reality video hosted by Winston showing how the video boards would look and showing off the perks of the premium seating area.

The team was able to invite people to experience the VR presentation in a preview center off the lobby at One Buc and take the show on the road with a street team.

It is all part of how the Bucs are trying to use technology and data to build a brand that holds up whether the team wins or loses.

"We can be affected by what happens on the field, but we can't be dependent on it," Bucs chief operating officer Brian Ford said.

In building their brand, the Bucs targeted women, who make up more than 40 percent of the fan base and drive many household spending decisions, Killingsworth said.

"We view ourselves as a lifestyle brand," he said.

The Bucs emphasize the word "membership" in building relationships with fans. Killingsworth outlined their principles as being first class, having a sense of community, being innovative and electrifying and having some swagger.

"For us, swagger is part of our brand traits," Killingsworth said, pointing to how the team wants to be fun and cool to follow.

The team has sought to be innovative not just with the VR technology, but with its use of the video boards, its app and neuromarketing. The video boards take a 360-degree approach rather than mirroring each other, giving fans different things to look depending on which way their head swivels. The app offers immersive games, access to news conferences and other insider information.

In neuromarketing, the team used eye-tracking technology from Blue Kite Insights to study how fans viewed a 30-second commercial and assess whether it built a connection and the inclination to buy tickets.

With such emerging technology and the "new toys" included in the stadium renovations, the Bucs expect to further strengthen their brand and the connection to fans.