As we head toward Election Day, few quick items from the weekend.
The Nets Build A Public Trust: Make no mistake about it, the Brooklyn Nets are a business. They are there to sell tickets and sponsorships first and foremost and make the Barclays Center a winner on the ledger sheet. They are not a charity. However the steps the team has taken to become as big a part of the community and to be innovators has been impressive. Their delayed opening night brought back a host of famous Brooklyn faces, like former Dodgers, which will help them get credibility and buzz with a community that may not love hoops, but loves their borough. yes they had Jay-Z and Beyonce, but to fill the seats on Tuesday nights in February the team needs to be a gathering place for the community, a sense of civic pride. They need to do all the little things that will give people with limited discretionary dollars reason to spend them on basketball when they may not yet love the team. Those little things included a well detailed email on Friday with every possible travel option to the arena for Saturday nights game, and a detailed description of all the goings on. Contrast that with the Knicks, who opened Friday, and sent out a reminder that the game was being played. Not much detail on subway lines, buses or other facts, just a reminder…we are opening, we are sold out come follow us. That works for the Knicks, an established brand sitting atop Penn Station. It won’t work for the Nets yet.
Another great example of innovative thinking unveiled Saturday was their own Brooklyn Super Hero, “The Brooklyn Knight.” The launch came complete with a Marvel partnership and design and a comic book to go along with the costumed character. A great brand extension for the team in a borough which loves education. The Knight can help again extend a brand into the community with a product, and a series of products, the Knicks do not have. It wasn’t hoaky, it was smart, and is the latest way the Nets are really trying to make themselves a commodity Brooklyn can be proud of vs. a team that plays there.
Not every night will have Jay Z and Beyonce sitting courtside, but cultivating a diverse list of faces from all walks of life with ties to the borough are great. Again if the team doesn’t win some of this may be for naught, but by doing all the little things, the team is finding ways to make sure that when the quiet days come, they are still in the conversation.
Don’t Shoot The Runners: While there was a ton of controversy around the ING New York City Marathon which is going to continue on for some time, the bottom line and the long-lasting positive that could come out of the race is all the volunteering and dollars that have been raised not just for Hurricane Sandy but for thousands of other charities. At this point a debate over a “damage” brand or leadership is moot. What is important is that thousands who were to run took to the streets on Sunday to do community service and aid the victims of the hurricane, and millions have been donated by the Road Runners, sponsors and the Rudin family for the cause. For the next month it does not matter how the decision was reached, what matters most is that the dollars that were raised and will continue to be raised go to places that need the help, and that those who WERE giving to hundreds of charities follow through eventhough the runners supporting causes could not complete the race. The history of the Marathon, and its future are very valuable to the City and to those who participate and it should not be lost on the issues that arose this week. Hopefully at the end of the day the real winners are the people who spoke out and the millions helped by the donations and support, many of whom could or would never run the race. That is what Fred Lebow started and that is what has made the race so amazing over the years. It has never been about the man and woman who finished first and it should never be about a CEO or a board, it has been about the human spirit.