FC Dallas, Fire Score With Unique Promos

Scarfing It Up In Dallas: There are certain rituals that are forever tied to a particular sports franchise. From singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at Wrigley Field to The Bleacher Call at Yankee Stadium to “The Terrible Towel” in Pittsburgh or the lucky Octopus in Detroit, sports fans and their teams love those traditions. They are not forced and rarely can they be duplicated in other environments, although sometimes they are tried. Creating such a tradition is not easy.

So the folks at FC Dallas seem to have come up with one that may stick, and by all accounts it is going pretty well. In 2010, the club erected a statue of Lamar Hunt, the millionaire oil magnate who brought one football, the American kind, to Texas with the AFL and then helped spur the global kind with the birth of MLS.  The statue, in Texas tradition, was bold and prominent, a can’t miss feature for fans coming to watch the club.

How do you create a proper way to draw attention, and to honor the Hunt legacy not annually, but every game? The staff came up with an idea; grace Lamar with a scarf, a time honored tradition in global soccer, every game. It was a nice idea, and maybe find a way to tie in a fan or two of note, who could handle the new tradition every game.

However FC Dallas went one better. They made it into a true happening by finding celebrities, local, national, unusual to put the scarf on every game. Dirk Nowitzki, U.S. men’s national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann, the  Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant have all joined in the ritual, and suddenly scarfing is born. The ceremony caught on and got the thumbs up from even the Hunt family as a way to fittingly honor and begin a tradition.

Now keeping something like “scarfing” going will not be that easy for major names in a market like Dallas. It’s not Chicago or New York and it takes time and energy to make sure the tradition doesn’t suffer in an ADD world that we live in today. It is also not risqué or edgy so the idea may not catch fire with some in the social space. The club does appear to be dedicated to the promotion for the long term and it has a manageable number of home matches every season, so plotting out the who’s is possible to make it a worthy, and maybe even if needed a sponsorable, event as time goes on. The use of digital and social media will also give the promo a boost, and getting the word out so that “scarfing” becomes a must stop for VIP’s when doing movie promos, special events etc. in the area is essential.

Nice move FC Dallas, great idea to own a space, cut through the clutter and honor a legend.

Fire Score Again:  The Chicago Fire have a mega-sponsor in Quaker Oats, a company that is always trying to find special ways to get its brand out there through the partnership. Its products are traditional and solid, not flashy or particularly innovative, but their commitment to quality and health is beyond compare. So in many ways are the opportunities the Fire have created for the brand to grow the partnerships. From customized jerseys to product giveaways, the Fire are always thinking not just unique, but national for their partner. The latest promo arrived in the mail this week, a great spin on an old standby…the bobblehead.

In year’s past bobbleheads were the rage, and have now given way to bobble everything’s as teams try and shake things up. This year the fire took a step back, creating a fan contest to pick which player they would honor with a bobble…pretty normal…but then honoring fans…and media and other VIP’s by customizing a select number of bobbles for those people. Sure everyone can get the winner of the contest, star defender Austin Berry, bur how many fans can have their own special bobble, and more importantly, how can those fans use the bobbles in the social environment to be creative and spread the word about the Fire brand, with Quaker along for the ride.

It is a great twist on an old standby promo…cost efficient, effective and easy to explain…got buzz where buzz usually doesn’t exist and most importantly showed the brand that the team again is willing to go the extra mile to make the partnership more valuable and effective.  Nice move Fire, keep burning the creative juices.

Ed note: Brendan Hannan, the chief architect of the Fire’s media planning the past few years, is moving on to the LA Galaxy in a few weeks. He will be missed in Chicago but it will be fun to see how a young, smart and forwarding thinking marketer and communicator can do in LA.