Marketing 101 in a Bowling Alley


Where’s the best place in your neighborhood for sushi? I bet it’s not the bowling alley. But Brandon Thomsen ’05 explains that his bowling alley is more than just pins and rented shoes. Lucky Strike Entertainment is an upscale lounge that just happens to have a few lanes. With top-notch food and drink, non-velvet art on the walls and lush couches spread throughout the space, the bowling lanes are just an added bonus.

Since 2010, Thomsen has been a marketing manager with Lucky Strike, working out of the Los Angeles area. An exercise science major at Central, he wanted to do something more than treat athletes. “All I knew was that I wanted to be involved in the sports and entertainment field, something on the business side,” says Thomsen, who also had a business minor at Central.

After graduation, he enrolled in a graduate program at Long Beach State University to study sports management. En route to his degree, he was required to complete three internships, each of which introduced him to a different side of the sports business. During an internship with AVP Pro Beach Volleyball, he was introduced to his current field. “In marketing, you’re constantly doing something different,” Thomsen explains. “There are so many avenues you can take to reach your target market and it makes every day different.”

Since joining Lucky Strike, Thomsen has learned that marketing for an organization with 20 locations across the U.S. and Canada presents some unique challenges. Each establishment has to cater to a different market, so locations are themed differently and feature modified menus. Some locations have a sports bar theme, while others look like a night club. The San Francisco location is unique with its sushi bar.

Although Thomsen works with seven other marketing professionals at the company’s headquarters, they coordinate with local employees who are more familiar with the customers in their city to customize each venue’s advertisements.

Although each location requires a slightly different tactic, Lucky Strike markets itself mainly through interactive media like Facebook and Twitter. Research has shown that the company’s target market responds more strongly to those media than to television and radio advertisements, which are likely to go unnoticed. Their advertisements also tend to be short and quick-witted, grabbing the customers’ attention in an instant to encourage a visit.

Thomsen says brevity is key. In fact, the company strives to keep online videos less than a minute in length; less than 45 seconds is even better.

With an establishment that is part bowling alley and part upscale bar and restaurant, one of the biggest challenges is getting customers to understand what to expect when they come in the door. “We call it a social experience,” says Thomsen. “One of our biggest challenges is communicating to people that we’re more than just a bowling alley. You don’t even have to bowl. You can just come in and sit down for dinner and drinks.”

Though he was originally attracted to marketing through sports management, Thomsen says he has found the entertainment field just as satisfying. They both try to provide something the customer enjoys. “I’m hoping to bring a customer in the door and have them leave happy,” says Thomsen.

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