Back in the day, I met my pops at a NYC restaurant his ad agency (Poppe Tyson) worked for…Mike Manuche’s. Meetcha at Manuche’s was the ad line. My dad introduced me to Red the Bookie. Red gave me some advice which has saved me lots of money over the years: “Kid, don’t ever bet on anyone but yourself.”
I had a meeting this week with a high-up marketing executive at a professional NY sports team. The exec asked me if I had any experience consulting in the sports and entertainment business. I did my normal hominah hominah, told him about work for the St. John’s Red Storm, then jumped into a discussion of the NY Knicks silly marketing line “You. We. Us. Now.”
But what strikes me about the marketing guy’s inquiry, and what is perhaps part of the problem for this and other franchises, is the notion that they are partly in the entertainment business. Franchises that market like entertainers become so. It’s a trap one falls into when there is a history of losing. Similarly, marketers who talk about ROI all the time are the marketers who aren’t getting any.
Sport is sport. Ask an excitable parent hollering at a grade school volleyball game. Who else would pay good money to see a circus where the tricks and stunts didn’t work or a Broadway play where the key characters die? My marketing executive knew his team’s wins and losses define the product, yet he still tried to put fannies in seats using entertainment tactics.
Sports have changed over the years. Player loyalty is a thing of the past. But sports brands are built — even as living breathing things. They are competitive in nature and their outcomes are driven by coaching, teamwork and players. If you root for the players as you root for your friends and family and you have a brand. Sports are different. Peace.