04 October 2010
Over on Mile High Hockey today I contributed to the post talking about why the Avs attendance has slipped. I touched on the Avs marketing, or lack thereof, and I wanted to expand on it a little more. Think of this as an accompaniment to the Roundtable question.
We've joked a million times about the Avs marketing department, but there's a lot of truth to that. Last year the slogan was (insert random action verb). This year it's "It's all about the (insert random action verb)". My least favorite of these ads is the radio and TV ads that say (paraphrasing off of memory here) "It's about intensity. It's about high fiving a perfect stranger as 18,0007 scream on". Not only is this an incredibly lame marketing campaign to begin with, but the focus isn't even on the right selling point.
The Avs are trying to sell fan atmosphere, and in doing so their giving the impression that every single night in the can is a packed-house affair where the only people not screaming their heads off every single second are the season ticket holders who have already sacrificed their voices for the cause. That's borderline false advertising. I went ~20 games last season, and there were only two games all season where the crowd was like that. Opening night (Joe Sakic night) and the Anderson's 51 save nights. That's not to say those nights aren't magical, they were, but the Avs are trying to sell that as every single night. It's not that way anymore and it's borderline dishonest to sell it that way. (I know what you're thinking... whoa, an advertising department is overselling it's product, WHAT HAS THIS WORLD COME TO?!?).
More after the jump
The Avs biggest asset isn't the crowd and the crown atmosphere right now. Selling people on that, and then watching them come to a Weds night Wild-Avs 12,000 fan snoozer is less likely to get those fans to come back. The selling point for the Avs right now is their youth. Duchene, O'Reilly, Jones, Yip, Quincey, Stastny, Stewart. All dynamic players who would look good in commercials and on billboards. Avs marketing: you're not just burying your lead, you're pouring quick-setting cement on it.
It reminds me of the crosstown Rockies a few years back, as they tried to market "Generation R". Generation R is an abstract concept that has no face, no personality and really nothing to sell. The Rockies started fairing a lot better at the gate when they dropped that campaign and started putting guys like Troy Tulowitzki, Matt Holliday and Ubaldo Jimenez in commercials. It allowed fans to connect with those players, and get an emotional investment in their development. No longer were people cheering for "Gen R" but they were cheering for actual people, with personalities.Good plays felt more dramatic, and bad ones felt more agonizing.
After years of ignoring fan relations the Chicago Blackhawks did the same thing. Their bandwagin started before this season, as Rocky Wirtz stressed Jonathon Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and co. The winning enhanced the crowds and the effects, but the recovery was there well before the winning came. In '06-07 'Hawks were 29th in attendance, they improved to 19th in 07-08 and then 1st in 08-09, helped by the Winter Classic. In '06-7 The Hawks were terrible (71 pts), then had 88 points in 07-08. They were still an average team, but moved up in attendance through marketing their young players who were on the verge of breaking out (And yes this is all exagerrated by having a notoriously cheap and hated owner die). By the time they broke out in '08-09 (104 points) they fan base saw the improvement and were invested in the team.
The Avs have something worth investing in here, but the Avs aren't selling that. That's the frustrating part.