Marketing MLS To Adults ..

Discussion in 'MLS: News & Analysis' started by soccermaul, Oct 19, 2009.

  1. soccermaul

    soccermaul Red Card

    May 28, 2009
    On the Bus..
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Marketing MLS To Adults
    U.S. National Soccer Players

    Lots of interesting stuff. If MLS can capture the audience that the international soccer gotten over this past summer and summers before it , will sure be in a much better shape than the league is in now.
  2. Knave

    Knave Member+

    May 25, 1999
    Anyone else think the writer points to a really interesting matter (why do recent expansion teams tend to be offering better atmosphere and a more genuine soccer experience than established teams) and then doesn't explore that matter at all? Seems to me it speaks directly to his topic.
  3. Blong

    Blong Member+

    Oct 29, 2002
    Midwest, the real one.
    I think she pointed to all sorts of matters and never really explored any of them. Furthermore, she never clearly indicated the point or points she was trying to make. I think I agree with her general premise, but I would need it boiled down to something more explicit to know for sure.
  4. Mateofelipe

    Mateofelipe Member+

    Mar 10, 2001
    Spokane, WA
    Seattle Sounders
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I think he could have tied his thesis about fans being presented with decisions to the fan involvement with newer teams. Concrete examples in Seattle are the great, big thumbs down the fans gave to changing the name from the old Sounders, and the involvement of fans in decision-making through consultative councils and veto-power over GM retention.

    It is also true that greater transparency might get the fans and press more invested. Since the league is no longer Garber playing butler to two guys, decisions actually do involve argument, counter-argument, and consensus-building.
  5. monster

    monster Member

    Oct 19, 1999
    Hanover, PA
    DC United
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Yeah, she does a great job of stating the obvious - market to adults, get soccer fans and be more transparant - without looking at what teams are actually doing.

    What about DCU's College Night promotions? Compare the season ticket efforts of Union and Red Bull as they both open new stadiums. What kind of deals did teams tie to international games to try and capture new customers?

    Otherwise, it's just a long and less ranty Big Soccer post saying that MLS isn't doing a good enough job. The National Team union (who runs that site) does enough of that on their own so I don't see why having someone else come in and do the same does to extend the conversation.
  6. FuzzyForeigner

    Oct 29, 2003
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    this is huge step and great point. This league is so much better than before. What we are seeing now is the league shedding its old ways: one of which was a standardized approach to advertising and a focus on families and children.
  7. Scott e Dio93

    Scott e Dio93 New Member

    Jul 1, 2006
    Montevideo, URU
    great marketing to adults : great players to mls

    bad marketing to adults : losing at home against international teams or losing 5-0 to cruz azul;)
  8. CeltTexan

    CeltTexan Member+

    Sep 21, 2000
    Houston, TX USA
    Houston Dynamo
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    Initially, MLS targeted youth markets, assuming young players would grow into adult ticket buyers. This has proven not to be the case.

    Every time this little nugget of insight pops up it reminds me of how, from a certain point of view, how counter culture soccer is in our sporting landscape.
    I mean, compared to the other big leagues in our nation, to find the majority of kids that play basketball but then at the same time don't really follow the NBA would be unthinkable on multiple levels.
    Yet this is the lay of the land with pro men's soccer in our nation.
    Some chalk this up to MLS being MLS but I have often run into young men that play the sport but didn't have a clue that Man U had played AC Milan in a UCL Semi-Final. I mean I just look at some of these guys like how do you get psyched up for a big Varsity game?!? Watch the girls Varsity play or watch some GolTV highlights at least???
    At our tailgates there are the few guys that juggle a ball and kick it around while having beers. There are kids everywhere in our parking lot playing a pickup game. In our nation, with so many kids playing the sport, I can see where MLS head honchos back in the day went out to target that market but 14 years on, more so for the original 10, those 8-15 years olds are now 22-29 and at that prime marketing target group of single sport playing men with some money to drop. A 34% drop is a drastic dropoff.
  9. dsp87260

    dsp87260 New Member

    Mar 19, 2005
    I can add anecdotal evidence to this...myself until 1994...

    I played the sport as a kid and it was always my favorite (to play). I grew up hearing about my father and his brothers playing the sport when they were growing up (being into martial arts as well, they used to kick the crap out of football players who would dare cut across their soccer field). I had heard of Pele (well, knew his name and that he was "famous for the bicycle kick"...saw him in a couple movies). I played soccer for my fraternity team at UNLV. But, it never even occurred to me that soccer was a pro sport. (Granted, I never really watched sports growing up...the Superbowl occasionally and the Olympics, the NFL for a little while after I was in high school until I started watching soccer in '94, Rebels basketball after I started high school until around '95)

    It wasn't 'til I saw a Newsweek magazine in May '94 (when I was 20) with Tony Meola on the cover (some sort of special World Cup edition) that I even knew the World Cup and pro soccer existed.

    I've been a fan of the USMNT since '94 and I've followed MLS since it started play in '96.
  10. Sachin

    Sachin New Member

    Jan 14, 2000
    La Norte
    DC United
    Has it? Does anyone really know for sure? There's an assumption that it hasn't happened, but I've never seen any real proof.

    Has anyone surveyed 25-34 year olds at MLS games to see if they came as kids?
  11. Shabs

    Shabs Member

    Jun 19, 2002
    Perhaps one of the problems is that the league is still trying to target and cater to youth markets, thereby alienating the prior youth targets as they got older and grew out of the Disney vibe.
  12. Buzz Killington

    Buzz Killington Member+

    Oct 6, 2002
    Lee's Summit
    Kansas City Wizards
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I'm in that demographic, and I went to games as a kid....
  13. profiled

    profiled Moderator
    Staff Member

    Feb 7, 2000
    slightly north of a mile high
    Los Angeles Galaxy
    Just turned 30 and went to the games as a high school kid.
  14. ThreeApples

    ThreeApples Member+

    Jul 28, 1999
    Smurf Village
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    You need to shift that demographic a little. I'm 34 and didn't go to games as a kid because the league started when I was 20.
  15. Autogolazo

    Autogolazo BigSoccer Supporter

    Feb 19, 2000
    Bombay Beach, CA
    The "kid" strategy produced....Michael Parkhurst.

    But it didn't put butts in season-ticket seats and it sure as hell didn't sell much beer.

    It always amazed me that these marketing guys thought soccer fans would actually be fooled by Futbolito or Hispanic Heritage Night instead of the tangible on-field play of Guille, Blanco, Donovan, Angel, Ljungberg, etc.

    The CCL is the best thing an MLS fan could hope for because it forces the league to either pony up the $$$ to compete in this region or watch its marketing efforts blown out of the water by lopsided defeats time and again until it caves and brings in real, proven players in their prime (mid-late 20s).

    When you lose at home to W. Connection, there's nowhere to hide.
  16. deron

    deron New Member

    Jul 25, 2006
    Centennial, CO
    Colorado Rapids
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I still don't understand why it's all or nothing. Market segmentation isn't a new concept.
  17. Sachin

    Sachin New Member

    Jan 14, 2000
    La Norte
    DC United
    Don't you get it deron? In the Rest of the World (RotW), only one type of person ever goes to a soccer game: a "lad" between 20-35. You can't get in until your 20th birthday if you're from a working class background. If you're not, you can't get in anyway. Once you turn 35, you're kindly escorted to the egress. Never in the history of the game has anything like a family ever attended a soccer match. That is, except in the United States. The RotW has better sense than that.

    Well, to be honest, a few old men are allowed to hang about the ground, mostly so they can complain about the newcomers who just don't have the bottle like they did.
  18. Autogolazo

    Autogolazo BigSoccer Supporter

    Feb 19, 2000
    Bombay Beach, CA
    Telling me I can play Futbolito all I want but that my team's starting striker is still going to be Kheli Dube, or Chris Wondolowski, or Chad Barrett, or a moribund Josh Wolff isn't segmentation.

    There is NO appeal to the market segment that likes to see a quality on-field product.

    I'll bet that one 2-0 Houston Dynamo win over Pachuca a couple years back in the home leg of the CCL did them more good than their entire marketing budget for the season. Oliver Luck has mentioned as much in interviews.

    Marketing to adults means spending money to win national and international competitions.
  19. Bajoro

    Bajoro Member+

    Sep 10, 2000
    The Inland Empire
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    As a marketing guy, I like her commentary quite a bit. The marketing discussions on BigSoccer have at times been exasperating -- people suggesting marketing tactics without a clear understanding of an effective overall strategy.

    And there's good reason for that: MLS came along at a time when mass marketing techniques such as TV were overly expensive and less effective than ever, and the Internet was still not a powerful marketing medium.

    I personally think MLS has done some good things... But the newer franchises have the advantage of understanding that marketing today is 180º different than marketing was just a few years ago.

    As of today, the greatest marketing genius the league has ever seen is Drew Carey. I bet the other ownership groups are taking a good hard look at what the Sounders are doing right and attempt to bottle it.

    But like others have noted, it will be harder for the brands that were built in the bad old days to do what the Sounders and Toronto have done. SOME of those brands, for better or worse, are already defined in the minds of the consumer. It's harder to turn a brand around rather than build a good brand from scratch.

    * * *

    By the way, I commented on the article on my marketing blog: Would love to get your comments there.
  20. Bolivianfuego

    Bolivianfuego Your favorite Bolivian

    Apr 12, 2004
    Fairfax, Va
    Bolivar La Paz
    Nat'l Team:
    I think one of the reasons why toronto and seattle did so well with getting fans to the stadium and having a nice crowd.

    A. Toronto is not USA, they still have that whole tie to england thing compared to USA, british columbia anyone? LOL

    B. They don't have much sports to get behind, the raptors? Hockey (this is probably their number 1 comapred)? Their american football league? They craved a football team at the highest level, I know they already had great fans based on what i could see and read about the white caps.

    Seattle, they did well cause the locals were pissed off already at the sonics leaving and the seahawks not being all that. They were looking for a team to get behind.

    Not to mention the aggresive and very professional marketing, not trying to be cheesey, and having interesting sponsors that give off that professional Euro' appeal, like Xbox and BMO, the bank of montreal. That just looks bad ass and goes with the jersey so well.

    They took to a grass roots level at getting fans together and involved, as you can see the fans at both places are rowdy and are there to enjoy and have fun, it seems like a more college crowd.

    To tie things up in conclusion, they both did good because both cities arent swamped with big teams to compete with too bad, as compared to other cities with bigger teams, and stadium locations...... well at least with seattle, how far out is torontos stadium?

    And also as stated earlier, i too agree that winning is what will get butts in seats.

    If the USA does incredibly well like in 02' it will bring attention to us, like the Conf. Cup did.
  21. Asprilla9

    Asprilla9 Member

    Dec 15, 2000
    Beaverton, OR
    Liverpool FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    yes, but he's also the only deep-pocketed owner who felt compelled to spend his money fervently with no concern for the immediate fiscal return. i hate to be the cynic here (who am i kidding, i love it!), but if Mark Cuban came in here and did the same thing with his MLS team ... he'd be the same genius. if Tom Hanks bought part ownership in a team and threw his money around like that ... he'd be the same genius.

    and i'm not shitting all over Drew Carey, I think the guy is the bee's knees. but this is exactly the type of guy MLS needs more of ... for that exact reason. you can do a lot of great things in marketing if you've got an unlimited budget and you don't require a concrete return on investment.
  22. HogHoopFan

    HogHoopFan Member

    Feb 7, 2007
    This is very, very anecdotal. But I became a MLS fan as an adult after watching the Dallas Burn play as a kid in the old Cotton Bowl stadium in like '96 or '97.
  23. DavidP

    DavidP Member

    Mar 21, 1999
    Powder Springs, GA
    I'm 45. I "discovered" the game when I was about 6 or 7, and started playing when I was 10. I watched every game on TV that I could, went to the pro games when Atlanta had a team. I agree that MLs should market to adults, but not every adult is a wannabe "supporter." If they want to bring the wife and kids, that's more ticket revenue for the team. I'm all for supporters; give them their own section and let 'em have it. But if you alienate a good chunk of your fans, i.e. the families with kids who play soccer, you're doing yourself a disservice. I still fail to see how it's okay for all other sports to market to everyone, but soccer can't seem to do it. :confused:

  24. triplet1

    triplet1 BigSoccer Supporter

    Jul 25, 2006
    Good stuff, this observation in particular because I think it's going to be one of the big issues facing the league in the next decade. My guess is that Philly, and subsequent new teams, will demonstrate that TFC and Seattle were not anomolies -- that is, they will show that kind of marketing model is "portable", at least to new markets The question becomes what can be done in older, "mature" MLS markets where the stadums are already built and the brands already defined to replicate this kind of success? Is it even possible?
  25. Sachin

    Sachin New Member

    Jan 14, 2000
    La Norte
    DC United
    Well, it's all about what some soccer fans perceive as the "counterculture" aspect of soccer. They like to believe that somehow, soccer is more "authentic" than the corporate mass-market sports that dominate American life. So, if Dad, Mom, Jackson and Cheyenne show up to a game, well, that's not part of the "counterculture" so it's ipso facto bad.

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