A scarf for your soul? Part 3

17 02 2013

If you’re like me then you’re wondering what Cardiff’s owners are up to. What are they actually doing with those scarves marked “Cardiff”? Are they merely advertising their club or are they doing something more sinister? Are the trying to own the word “Cardiff”? I think they might be.

This idea is not as fanciful as you would imagine, other clubs have tried to own the symbols of a city; Liverpool FC owns the copyright over the symbol of their city, the Liver Bird, and Manchester United™ own the combination of the words Manchester and United. Club owners start by selling merchandise then try to take over a place, that’s how it goes.

Of course clubs don’t want any old Tom Dick or Harry denying them precious money by selling “unofficial” merchandise.  Trademarking the essence and the soul of their clubs is easiest way of preventing unauthorised money-making;

“….Most of the Premier League club’s will have registered their official club badges as a trademark in order to exploit the use of it on official merchandise and to limit the use of it on unofficial merchandise.

Tradmarking means the clubs have the law on their side;

Often the merchandise sold outside football grounds consists of such things as team scarves, team pin badges, t shirts with the clubs badge etc on, t shirts showing the image of a particular player who plays for that club to name but a few.

If merchandise such as this is sold then there is likely to be infringements in relation to the following things:

– The use of the official club badge

– The use of the official club name

– The use of a club nickname

– The use of a name of a player or signature

– The use of a picture of a group of players

– The use of a picture of an individual player

If this law is infringed there can be prosecutions and most big clubs protect their income through robust policies.  Chelsea™ provide the basic rules for the use of the(ir) identity” (Read that pdf!) , Arsenal™ employ a “brand protection manager” and Newcastle United™ will not tolerate “any unauthorised use” of their trademarks. Mind you this process is not always stress free, sometimes you have to go to the effort and expense of designing a new badge;

“Fulham even changed their badge as the previous one contained the London borough council in which the club is situated and was therefore held to be too common to attract trademark protection. Their new badge has thus been registered as a trademark.”

You can see how far-sighted prospective owners are attracted to the idea of guaranteed money. Didn’t Cardiff owners go to the expense of changing the club badge? Clubs may protect income by acting like this but what do they lose? Badge collectors are one group of unintended victims;

“Over the past season or so Chelsea FC have really clamped down on badge sellers around the ground – so much so that many of those who sell from pub to pub try to disguise the fact that they even have a badge board.

Those in stalls around the ground are not allowed to use the words “Chelsea FC” or even “Chelsea” on any home made memorabillia… this means that the badges being produced are truly woeful with some just stating, “The Chels”.

They also are not permitted to use any past or present logos of the club on unnofficial memorabillia. Means badges look truly awful and there is very little choice in the club shop.”

The people behind using corporate sledgehammers to crack unauthorised nuts probably don’t care how it looks as they’re more concerned with protecting revenue streams. Far-sighted potential club owners seem to look at football in this way, they obviously aren’t attracted to football because of their memories of muddy pitches, hooligans and The Big Match live. They’re attracted by things like websites that tell them how to get on the football gravy train;

Marketing to children is the quickest way you will grow your fan base, fill your stadium, and create a future for your club.

Marketing to children is one of the smartest ways to market football. If you want to sell merchandise, focus on children. If you want to fill stadiums quickly think of marketing to children. Regrettably marketing football to children is one of is one of the least done marketing strategies. In marketing football to children you must also know that children are different at different stages of development. Pre-school children are not the same as primary and post primary children. It is therefore important to design methods to target them differently.

Children have a capacity to get what they want. This is done through nagging power. If a child gets to love your club they will nag the parents sick until they get what they want. If it is going to the stadium is what they want they will pursue the parents until it happens. If they want your club shirt they will nag the parents until it is bought for them. Whereas an old person will rationalize while making decisions, children do not do this. For them if they want it, they want it now and will not stop asking for it until they get it. It is therefore important to put children as a priority when you are marketing your football club. The children will get want they want far quicker than a grown up person that has to weigh benefits.

One other fact is that parents especially mothers want to please their children. Whatever the child wants, the child gets, especially if the parents have the means. So, if you market to the child the chances of succeeding in getting the parents buy your football merchandise is very high. If going to the stadium is the issue it will happen, all in the name of pleasing the child. Just moving in shopping centers and watch the lengths the parents go to make their children happy. Remember most of the items parents buy for children are actually chosen by the children. If your club is part of that choice it’s going to be a winner.

The fastest way to create a buzz for your football club is by marketing to children. If children love something they never stop talking about it. Look at Ben 10, Spiderman and John Cena. These characters have captivated the minds of children. One child or two start it at school and the whole school is captivated. You can do exactly this for your football club. If you reach out to these children effectively in no time they will create a buzz for you that goes beyond their school boundaries, it continues to friends at home. In no time your club becomes part of their lives. You will get many into stadiums and you will sell a lot of merchandise. Look at the merchandise that Ben 10, Spiderman and John Cena sell. They have focused their energies on children and they are winning hands down.

If you get them young you are going to get a life time fan – ‘cradle to grave’. If you keep your marketing and relationship with these children you will keep them for life. Think about the amount of money you are going to collect from this person over a life time. It is huge.

Minorities, disconnected fans, uninterested people and all kinds of parents can only be dragged into the stadium by their children. A child will nag the parents until they get into the stadium. If for some reason they can not get into the stadium at least you will sell a shirt or any other club merchandise to the child.

The size of children is often the biggest in most societies. If you market your club to all the schools within your catchment area, filling a stadium will be very easy, because of the sheer size of the child community. Remember children do not come alone. The child will at least attract one adult and in functioning families you will get the two parents.

Marketing football to children is a brainless activity that is often ignored. Your football club should spare no effort in reaching out children. It is one of the quickest ways to fill stadiums because of the sheer numbers of children in most communities and their powers to always get want they want. It is the easiest way you will sell huge quantities of merchandise. It is the only way you will get minorities and uninterested people into stadiums. It is the best way you will get endless buzz. When children love something they talk about endlessly. You have to market to children to grow your fan base, sell more merchandise, attract sponsorship and develop the business of football.

The handy website also tells you how to involve the whole family in the experience,

“If you have influenced and won over a family it is easier for them to dedicate every weekend to your home games than having one person within that family going for these games. If you have only one fan in the family he will always have to fight other members of the family if they have differing interests.  They would want him or her to go to their own amenities as opposed to coming to the stadium.

Families often have better organized financial structures that a football club can tap into than non family groups that usually make erratic decisions that often lead to them leaving from one month to another.”

how to turn fans into evangelists,

“One of the best ways to grow a fan base is to turn the converted into recruiters. Religion is thousands of years old and growing strong because they deciphered this marketing technique a long time ago. Jesus walking along the Sea of Galilee found Peter and Andrew casting their nets. He told them: ‘come and follow me and I will turn you into fishers of men’. That was the beginning of turning of converts into evangelists (advocates). This is one of the greatest marketing techniques ever discovered because it uses friends to bring friends, brother to bring brother and sister as well as acquaintances. In no time the following has multiplied. Nothing grows a fan base like this technique if applied properly. All religions have utilized this system since time immemorial. This explains why religions keeping growing from strength to strength. In my own neck of the woods every space in which a shop fails, a church has sprouted and they all seem to be thriving. Any team that uses this technique will grow an enthusiastic loyal fan base very quickly.

and most importantly how you go about “Monitizing Your Football Fans“. (If you’re unfamiliar with the word “monetize” it means turning stuff into money). You can monetize with merchandising;

“…..go beyond the traditional club T shirts. Cater for all your fans needs. Cater for the teens, cater for the ‘tweens’ (pre teens), cater for the children and do not forget the women. Not all people like T shirts, for example recently Wolves became the first side to launch an official lingerie range for female fans. By widening your product range you stand a very big chance of reaching your fan base. If a person does not want or can not afford a T shirt at least he will buy cup.”

Of course would-be club owners are reminded about protecting their income.

“One thing that you have to do when you start merchandising is to protect your products from pirating. The more popular your club becomes the more products you are going to sell and the more attractive you are going to be to unscrupulous business practises. People are always looking for a quick buck and they will definitely create cheap replicas of your products. You have to pursue them vigorously because they will kill your business. They do not care how expensive it is to run a club; they are only interested in lining their pockets. Educate your fans about the genuine thing and sensitize them about pirate products. You should convince them to be the eyes and ears of the club. As long as you have a relationship with your fans they will be vigilant and report pirated products to the club, swing into action immediately to discourage the practise.”

The best part of the website is an aspirational quote from Mark Twain;

“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.”

Far-sighted prospective club owners will really love that message. I imagine that Cardiff’s owners have brightened the club offices with bright corporate posters featuring these golden words.

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