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The Challenge

Engage new fans for a champion soccer team in a crowded sports town.


Ticket sales rose 21 percent over the same point last season.

The Outcome

Edgy, eye-catching engagement and messaging that expresses the Chicago Fire’s brand.

Fire Billboard2

Billboard messaging was inspired by fan chants.

Major League Soccer champions the Chicago Fire wanted to convince new fans to come to its stadium, but knew that competition for fans’ attention—and wallets—in Chicago was fierce. The Fire partnered with IDEO to create memorable marketing campaigns and fan experiences to get more Chicagoans fired up and filling its seats.

Inspired by Section 8 fans and fervent Club supporters, IDEO homed in on six defining brand personality traits: human, gritty, irreverent, indie, Chicago pride, and globally curious, then used them to design game-day experiences to match. In addition, knowing the Fire’s marketing pockets weren’t as deep as its competitors, IDEO zagged and took a different approach to messaging: Eye-catching billboards featured headlines lifted directly from Section 8 fan chants, edgy posters showed soccer players as superheroes, and anything-but-traditional scarves and t-shirts sported bold wording and graphics of players’ faces.

"Thanks to IDEO, we solidified the Fire’s brand and have marketing campaigns and fan experiences that truly communicate our personality," said Atul Khosla, COO, Chicago Fire Soccer Club.