Social media campaign gives Penguins a song to celebrate
February 11, 2016 12:00 AM
Musician Andrew W.K., right, talks with Penguins backup goalie Jeff Zatkoff on Wednesday before the team played the New York Rangers.
By Elizabeth Bloom / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Nicholas Doblick had a goal in mind.
Actually, he had a goal song in mind.
The song, “Party Hard” by the long-haired, hard-rocker Andrew W.K., seemed to be a perfect fit for the Penguins’ post-goal celebrations at Consol Energy Center. So last spring, Mr. Doblick started a petition on his blog, psamp.com, short for “Pittsburgh Sports and Mini Ponies,” to inspire the Penguins to adopt it.
The campaign took off. Mr. Doblick, a bartender from Sutersville who now lives in Brooklyn, used Twitter and YouTube to promote his cause, and Andrew W.K., whose full name is Andrew Wilkes-Krier, offered online support, too. As other fans started to tweet their support, the team took notice.
“By the time we got to the season, it was about one out of every 100 tweets,” said Andi Perelman, the Penguins’ manager of new media. “We’ve had 33 million impressions on Twitter and the Internet since it started.”
Goal accomplished: On Oct. 29, “Party Hard” became the team’s goal song during a game against the Buffalo Sabres. The Penguins honored their new musical signature Wednesday by bringing Andrew W.K. and Mr. Doblick to Consol Energy Center for a game against the New York Rangers.
That a single fan could persuade a team to change its goal song speaks to how social media has democratized the fan experience. Before the advent of Twitter and Facebook, fans had little recourse to challenge decisions made by their preferred teams and leagues. Now, that top-down model has been flipped on its head.
“The idea that this could happen this quickly, it is really hard to imagine pre-social media,” said Robert Gilbert, clinical associate professor of marketing at the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz Graduate School of Business. “It gives the firm the ability to get immediate real-time feedback, and it just opens the door for this real-time dialogue.”
Last month, National Hockey League fans used the Internet to vote John Scott, a statistically underwhelming player whose best hockey asset is his right fist, into the All-Star Game. And, after the NHL tried to pressure Mr. Scott into bowing out of the event, fans voted him the game’s most valuable player.
Major League Baseball has experienced a similar phenomenon. When the league sought in 2014 to have fans vote for the “Face of MLB,” users hijacked the vote and nearly elected Oakland Athletics Eric Sogard, a little-known second baseman hitting .241 over his career.
It’s not just sports. When Wal-Mart started a contest that promised to send the musician Pitbull to its store with the most Facebook likes, the Internet dispatched the rapper to the retail giant’s Kodiak, Alaska, location.
The campaign for “Party Hard” coincided with the team’s interest in finding a new goal song, Penguins spokesman Tom McMillan said. Going back to the 1990s, the Penguins had relied on familiar pump-up music by artists such as Zombie Nation, Blur and Gary Glitter. In 2014, Sports Illustrated ranked the Penguins’ choice of Zombie Nation’s “Kernkraft 400” as the 12th-best goal song in the league. (The Boston Bruins, at No. 11, had the same song.)
“We needed a revolution against ‘Jock Jams,’ ” Mr. Doblick said, referring to the uptempo compilation albums made popular in the 1990s. “They’re annoying. We’ve heard them a million times.”
By creating the campaign, he also hoped to lift fans’ spirits after the Penguins’ early exit from the 2015 playoffs. “I wanted happiness for the fans, for the team, for everyone, and the fans rallied around it,” he said. “I’m still in shock that it actually happened.”
“I want people to understand how much it means to me,” Andrew W.K. said. “The best part about it is it was done by the people who wanted it to happen — the fans of the team.”
Elizabeth Bloom: email@example.com or 412-263-1750. Twitter: @BloomPG.
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