It is tough for MLS teams at this time of year to cut through the clutter and get ancillary exposure. Their preseason is mixed in with spring training, March Madness, the NBA, the start of NASCAR, hockey heading to the playoffs etc etc. Their preseason training also does not have the place yet in the casual consciousness of sports fans like an NFL training camp or pitchers and catchers reporting does. As a result, teams have to find ways to get exposure away from matches and draw attention at a time when tickets need to be sold and the ramp up to the season needs to begin.
One obvious way is to stage a newsworthy event, and the San Jose Earthquakes recently took a mundane happening and made it into a noteworthy one. The ‘Quakes took the traditional “shovel in the ground” launch for their new stadium and made it into a unique demolition day, complete with players, fans and the appropriate media. Now they didn’t spend millions to implode an old site…there was no explosion at all. It was just a backhoe to a building. However what they did do was bring the factory site back to life by bringing in players and staff in M2 Bradley tanks (which were built in the old factory) and creating “Demolition Day” to give fans and the team a chance to take part in a key next step in the evolution of the franchise. They pushed the story virally and created a news piece to remind fans, brands and the media of the progression of the franchise and their value to the area at a time when the ‘Quakes would not be top of mind. Fans got to be part of the experience, players connected with the fans, and the team received a nice jumping off point at something which became an event when there was not one before.
All smart for the franchise and for the league as it looks for a continued growth path in 2011.