Last week the Tampa Bay Buccaneers announced its “RED Women’s Movement” marketing campaign, which is designed to attract females to the Bucs’ brand.
I respect the end. The means, however, made thousands of women, including me, cringe. In its news release and video promo, “highlights” of the program included introducing women to NFL gameday fashion, how to prepare meals during the season and share social media experiences via Pinterest, known for its shopping and craft posts. In other words, the “Movement” traveled back in time – to about 1950.
In an age when women play and watch sports, write and broadcast sports, coach and officiate men’s and women’s sports and play fantasy sports, the idea that any athletics organization would market to women with domesticity as a selling point disregards their accomplishments during the past 50 years.
Marketing and publicity are important for any brand, and the National Football League and its members are no exception. The NFL is famous for its seeming 12-month identity campaign as it keeps the league in the news daily. What the Bucs missed is that more than half of the league’s audience is, in fact, women. They don’t need pink and perfume with their football. They want to be part of something that celebrates their team.
Some argued that not all women know football basics, which are also on the RED agenda. Maybe they didn’t know that the same goes for some men. But when either has questions regarding football rules or stats, Google is at their fingertips.
Aha – rules challenge, solved!
When people want clothes, they visit physical or online retailers and maybe even a personal shopper. Fashion confusion, gone.
When men and women want to mix a better Bloody Mary, they ask their friends or surf for recipes online. There’s your kitchen visit (you have to garnish your bloodies).
How then, can an NFL team create a fringe community without ticking off half of its fan base without scheduling everything except lessons for how to serve their guy a beer while they prepare the latest club recipe?
I’ve come up with five ways to expand an NFL brand through community, but we know that’s only a fraction of what RED could have been. Following are basic ideas that the Buccaneers or any other team can implement so that the organization may simply enjoy a new program’s profits from more committed fans.
- Make marketing campaigns gender INclusive. I personally like to watch football with guys. I like to talk about football with guys and argue issues of the season with guys. I welcome “girls night out,” but when it comes to football, invite guys, girls, kids and puppies. Everyone is welcome to my party. Just bring beverages.
- Commit to community. Again, gender neutral. Schedule days during the season or throughout the year when all fans that join your special group go into the community and clean playgrounds, read to kids or visit fellow football fans in hospitals, domestic violence shelters and nursing homes. Such tasks are underserved in every NFL city. Go ahead and wear your club’s specially-designed t-shirt or team jersey. Engage others that cannot do for themselves.
- Want to be fit like a football player? Work out (sort of) like one! – Along those same lines, (thanks to Jenna Laine for planning seeds to this idea via Twitter), we know that kids’ physical education classes are being cut from public school programs nationwide. Enlist the help of an assistant coach and a team trainer to lead your special group, along with kids from these schools, in conditioning sessions throughout your market. Create a traveling tailgate but instead of food, you serve logo-emblazoned fitness bands, step counters and free weights. A handful of trainers would be on hand to correct form challenges or provide alternatives for those who can’t do group burpees. Emphasize and teach healthy lifestyle practices to help develop a healthier community.
- Smile for your selfie – Many teams go out into their communities and mingle with fans preseason, but weekly routines take hold beginning with the first game. There’s always an off day, however, during which players go on endorsement shoots or do their own community service work. On just one off-day, pay a few players to engage with fans of the “club” at the stadium or a restaurant to sign autographs and shoot pictures with the first 50 or 100 people that respond to an invitation.
- Let the fans IN – Inclusion means the world to fans that often only get end zone or small screen views of their favorite teams. Invite members of your new community to blog and shoot videos to share on their own website, that your team creates and links to the organization domain. Word-of-mouth is as effective a marketing tool as there is. Let fans communicate in their own words and pictures why they feel like they’re a true part of your team.
- Bonus — Let them shop but make it special. Men, women and kids love great holiday deals and NFL teams can offer their new membership communities deep discounts on team merchandise during the holiday season. Make it a party at your stadium on a non-game evening. And we’re talking deeper than typically advertised discounts. It’s about inclusion and fans that value special treatment.
While these are just a handful of ways to help men AND women form an alliance in the name of your NFL team, they represent positive, productive and profitable ways the Bucs or any other organization can market to to newly created group. Make members of an exclusive club feel valued, and your team benefits in ways a cooking class can’t touch.
So, go ahead – let the makeup artist have the season off.
(Copyright, Gail Sideman, PUBLISIDE, 2015)