Re: Wally Buono the Marketing Wonder....What a Guru!!!

In predictable fashion as predicted by a few Lionbacker posters, the GM and HC Wally Buono is in the Vanouver Sun today calling out his kick return guy, Aaron Lockett. In what is getting to be a tired and worn out way of endearing fans to the CFL and the Lions, Buono is promising fans a new face somehow and seeing the back end of Aaron Lockett heading out of town.

What the football types who too much run the CFL -like Wally Buono -will NEVER understand in their life-times is the value of more positive statements on their players and a lot more continuity in personnel so that fans have a better and closer identification than they have had in recent years. I recall former CFL star Paul Bennett's father who had been a life long seasons ticket holder in Toronto even as his son played elsewhere saying he no longer had a feel for the Argos as the players changed too much.

For as good as Wally Buono has been in assembling a coaching staff and team he is a complete door knob when it comes to understanding marketing and the importance of getting his team known in the community.

Fans after a game like the other night do the predictable as some of them mirror the actions of the GM and HC simply by knowing how he operates and they rush to the boards and talk shows to post the demise of a player who I think has done a pretty good job for BC and who to me looks like a good team person and able returner. Putting aside the one player for a minute look at the stadium they play in. Hello Wally - you aren't filling the park dummy so it'd be good to say some nicer things that market your product and your team.

There really needs to be a separation of GM and HC for no other reason than you have to get a face the sports community can identify with and have that person put the proper face on the team and the quality of the product and the entertainment value of buying a ticket.

The Wally Buonos of the world are football guys first and last. They would play in BC Place Stadium and enjoy the games if winning if under 20,000 fans turned up game after game. Oh right , that is what did happen and now the CFL is resurging but you are not in BC back to where it was in the 1980s! It's not what these football types see themselves doing - filling the seats. Leave fans and marketing to Community Relations or whatever it is called but to them it is just make sure that marketing is as separate from the team as it can be and where filling the building etc is not linked to the GM's office where it would be in the Van Canucks organization.

Aaron Lockett can no doubt be replaced by a guy who can do as much or more than he can. That is possibly only an issue to the player and his family/friends and certainly resends the Wally message to the team that his job is to find a guy better than you are. What a motivator to match his marketing guru title. Too bad there is not a kick returner in the league burning up the yards.

Right now, the BC Lions are humming and if you go back to the heady days of Mervyn Fernandez and Roy DeWalt and HC Don Matthews you will recall that that stadium was full. My season tickets were in S. 13 Upper Deck!!!! Now you can get a ticket anywhere virtually on any given night down below.

Maybe Mr. Braley should have his GM take some marketing trainingin the off season from either NHL GMs or those in the NFL and find out how they talk in public. In fact it is not odd to hear Doug McLean GM of Columbus or other GMs on Vancouver radio as I did last week. It is marketing as taught no doubt in high school. Too bad the Wally wagon is a little short of marketing and BC Place Stadium in fans in the seats.

Football fanatics will no doubt rush to the Wally wagon's circling defence but the problem with that is you are the football fanatics and come hell or high water you will be one of the 17,000- 20,000 fans at a game during the lean years as I was. What I am talking about is fans like me who ask their friends if they'd like to go a game with me and I have a free ticket, free parking etc. They say no and I get back half the time what the GM/HC is saying about how lousy AW is or some other drum that Wally has been beating. These are the types who catch the sports talk shows and can't wait to say to me "what about them Canucks??" and I nicely note that hey, the season hasn't started yet or during the lockout year - they're on stike...yet they dominate the positive news stories.

Yes, I am calling out the GM for his failure to market the product which is what GMs do. If he can't do it, give him the football side and get an overriding GM title to someone inside the organization who can get the right story out and fill the stadium like in the DeWalt era. The coach then had lousy media skills - Don Matthews - but he said the right things about how they were going to play and his calling out players was not in the media fuelling the fans to find fault constantly with the team and thus staying home or watching NFL football.

How will the CFL ever market itself and how will BC ever fill the stadium when you have the GM and coach most weeks calling out one player or another and leading fans to conclude what the sports talk shows keep saying in this town that the league and entertainment value is less than the NFL. Maybe it's time for the owner of the BC Lions to remind his GM of the marketing side of the job and give him some advice on how to get more fans out.

It's the difference between preaching to the loyal fan who is in the seats over speaking to those not yet converted who can reduce the sea of empty blue seats. It is the difference in this case of seeing the stadium half empty not half full. Just like a GM and owner would or should see it. The marketing problem is filling those seats with revenue providing customers versus the football problem of motivating your players by threats and calling out individuals in the media.

To the hard core follower of Wally he can do no wrong and no doubt walk on water but he has trouble with the multiplying of the believers part of the job.

Not to be religious or disrespectful but if Wally Buono were Jesus of Galilee with his management style he would have told his 12 disciples to go forth and always remember- 'My job is to find someone better than you'.

Well, at least that would have taken care of his problem with Judas but done little to multiply the number of believers.

I's not Wally's job to make people feel good about sub-par performances.

I think Lockett should be replaced. His numbers are poor and he goes down way too easy. I've yet to see him break a tackle. On Saturday he made one move and jumped a tackler only to stumble and fall upon landing without being touched.

Sure, schemes, field position and new rules have affected the return games of all the teams, but Aaron is just not comiing through when needed.

Getting back to Wally, I'm happy his attitude is "what have you done for me lately". I'd prefer he'd call guys out than spew some b.s. that everything is just swell.

Apparently, it's worked so far and he's lived up to his words by showing Sam Young and Antonio Warren the door and replaced them with players who are performing better.

I can't think of a better way to market the club than wins.

As for the Canucks, what have they done...ever? Two cup appearances in 40 years and nothing more than a riot to show for it... WOW.

I'll take the heartbreak of a let-down Lions season every few years and an actual championship in this millennium over those jokers across the street.

Great job Wally!

Football 16.

With respect....the reason you have no hits on your post is the time it takes a person to read through the material and it’s repetitive theme takes more energy than most people are prepared to invest.

First, you speak of your season tickets as they were a key to open the door to untold knowledge about the game of football and almost challenging readers to disagree with your view on the subject.

Can’t say I can compete with your season tickets, and no haven’t seen a game in person for a few yrs. now but I live 26 hours away (round trip) and it’s inconvenient. Will NOT however miss a televised broadcast.

On the other hand did load up the family and witnessed the Lions win the cup in Calgary a few yrs. back.

Not an expert at all but during my career managed as many as 130 people in a high stakes business environment. I understand expectations and accountability.
My dues have been paid having followed these guys along with my little brother through the dirty losing yrs. in the 60's from the cheapo/freebee Leos Leaders end zone seats in what “seemed like? rain every game on most nights at Empire Stadium.

Now to the point.
I’ll bet I wasn’t the only one to have a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach when Lockett fumbled that return at a key point of Saturday’s game. The Montreal score and kickoff recovery were a result of the miscue and could easily have put mo permenantly into the hands of the Al’s as a result. Only one mistake yes but A.L. has been either underachieving or has simply lost the magic this season when the rest of his buds are tearing up the league.
I see a hesitancy to hit the holes and react to developing situations and is usually snowed under in short order as a result.

Whally B has said he won’t hang in there as long this season with problems and has been true to his word.
Like it or not one could argue his reluctance to cut and move on hurt him in different ways the past couple of seasons, and being the competitive game it is, he is wise to “demand? more of each and every participant. Fans certainly do.

One only had to read and hear the hammering he and the organization took after last season’s debacle and WB is too smart to relive that moment in time.

Ya see I too have a little marketing in my background, and truth is fans don’t like them wagon jumpers all you like..... As Tom Peters said, “it may sound trivial and irrational, but it’s my money?!!

The “real sin? is to stick with incompetence at the expense of the paying customer.
To do so is folly and certain death without mercy


Thanks for the critique of MY writing style. I think it took you to your seventh paragraph to say "Now to the point" but who's counting.

You say you led an organization of 130 people. How often did you call out an individual staff member and how well did it work?

I am questioning the GM/Head coach's immediate penchant for calling out individual players and then cutting them. That is no way to fill a stadium nor do I feel is the way to build a team other than through fear.

Just for information, before retiring I think I had 130 people in one of my departments and not once did I call an individual out in the company newsletter.

In the end it comes down to whether you feel players and employees are best motivated out of fear or other means. I found other means to work far better both as an executive and as a successful coach of men and kids.

I see you read some of Tom Peters work too there, BJ. He's one of the best. Too bad not much of it stuck.

By the way...I don't think even Wally Buono has condemned Aaron Lockett the way the two who have responded have done. Name one kick return guy this year in the CFL who is burning up the league?

I liked this quote:

"At this time next year, Isiah will be with us if we can all sit here and say that this team has made significant progress towards its goal of eventually becoming an NBA championship team. If we can't say that, then Isiah will not be here." His boss said that, the Chairman of MSG.


I too wrestled with temptation on occasion when working with management people on style.
While gentle nudging was in order to help the successful leader achieve to his/her potential, at the same time caution was the order of the day when the guy/gal had a history of achieving results.
I don’t see any body language on or off the bench that would indicate to me these guys believe they’ve been abused...quite the opposite. And all those wins Football 16, have Lion fans giddy with joy.
What are all of us unwashed missing here? BJ

BJ: I didn’t mean for my post to lead to a confessional for executives about how you “wrestled with temptation on occasion”. I hope that you made the right call in dealing with whatever demons were possessing you at the time.

Putting yourself on the side of the angels or the “unwashed” as you call it is a nice way of avoiding dealing with either the main or subsidiary issues in what I was trying to convey.

Didn’t you make this comment in a post last season and you are lecturing ME on writing style? "While in sport the bench boss takes a back seat and to the inexperienced eye his contribution is difficult to see, however I’m almost enclined to bet the rider before I’ll bet the horse in most sporting events. "

Methinks you know as much about betting on the ponies as you do about motivation. Get a refresher course. My writing is fine.

F16 a stimulating debate, albeit now only a small step away from my dad being tougher than yours.
I look to have offended your sensibilities so I'll try to be more carefull while sticking to my guns.
Whally isn't going about his business in the same manner we would have, but at the same time you must know there's no cookie cutter approach to success.
He's had an enviable record of achievement in this league getting it done in the way he's grown up with. I'd be loath to mess with know lead, follow or get the hell out of the way.
Has it occured to you that he may just be challenging his guy, giving him every opportunity to get his poop in a group before he takes affirmative action.
If this is his way of seeing this thing through he's right on.
If in the next game it doesn't bring about the behavior he expects (playoffs are getting closer)than the coach should fire his sorry ass.

....I'm just going to sit back and wait for you two to disolve to the 'yeah, well screw you!' level..... :twisted: :twisted: :twisted: ....

RedandWhite - I hardly think this little difference in philosophy is in danger of falling to the level the BJ poster suggests. I have never resorted to that EVER despite anonymity.

Yes, BJ, it did occur to me that Wally might be challenging his player and that is a questionable tactic given that he has done this quite a bit this season. He also continuously says “My job is to find a better player than you”. You won’t find a BC Lion commenting on whether this is motivating but I’d suggest that players very likely don’t like this method and eventually it wears thin. I don’t know if he did this in Calgary or not.

Under Buono, BC has improved in gate revenue and team performance. There are 4 components of marketing - product, price, location and promotion. Buono has done well in improving the product. Perhaps, he can be more creative in special promotions and public relations? Price and location are less flexible. As for personnel management, Buono's approach is still effective in pro sports.

In the past, a new BC stadium attracted 40-50,000 people. After novelty worn off, normal attendance is in the 20-30,000 range similar to that of the old stadium. Maybe BC Place is too large for the market?

Interestingly, thirdperson, some marketing writers have now added a 5th P, PLACE, to the traditional 4 P's of Price, Product, Promotion and P-Distribution. Ironically place will be an issue for BC Lions post 2010.I suspect, thirdperson, that the Government of BC will after 2010 and their commitment as hosts of the Winter Olympic Games knock the stadium down. One of the reasons might be lack of fan support at the levels of the past as well as the number of paying events held there. I have heard no policy statement on this from the Government of BC but I think I heard that they are not accepting booking dates post 2010. This could be explained away by the time distance from past 2010 if they chose to use that as an excuse. It might be that the land is looking far too valuable for mixed condo/commercial use - which for this fan would be a sad demise. I do like going to the Lions games rain or shine and don't mind the heat and sure like getting wet only the walk from the parking lot. It also doesn't help that even fans trash the game experience in the Dome and I presume would love to be outdoors getting soaked to the rear.

BC Place may have been a super design at the outset but it lacks convertability for conferences/conventions which of course is a market now suffering due to international travel issues.

The other issue for me is that a GM should not be knocking his individual players in the media and then next week cut the guy like he has done here in BC. On the kick return game, no team in the CFL or player is lighting it up this year. There is a marketing side to every interview the GM/HC gives and there is a way to deal with issues with players and that is not in the media. I didn't put this up to get huge support or a call for Wally Buono's head. In fact, I have thoroughly enjoyed the reaction especially from the usual hostiles at lionbackers . com. BJ would be able to trash me every day over there.

Interesing … and I agree that the GM should take on marketing as a responsibility

However, I do not see Buono’s outting players in the media as a fault. I presume he has spoken to the players in advance

Wally also blurted at half time on Saturday … the return game has to get better

What’s lacking out here is any reasonable explanation or questioning by the media … about Wally’s decisions or methods

It took the losing streak last year for Wally to finally question his own communication skills with respect to QB starter … and then a few weeks later he makes his “too late” offer to Caseymania

[I bet he got advice on both … from Ackles]

Sports teams have discovered the advantages of separaing the HC and GM role … eventually Ackles will convince Buono [and Braley] to do this … but not while the Lions are winning

Wally’s methods are NOT weak … he just rarely gets questioned … and when he does he shrugs off the media and fans

[good effort by Football16 to question him … even if I don’t think your ‘call out’ point is correct]

thirdown - you might want to go over and post also at

It is an excellent site with very knowledgeable posters.

Yep; been there

:lol: an aside ... the Lions are trying to get Keith Stokes out of Toronto [via trade]

Aaron Lockett is done in BC

You got your wish Liontamer - Ian Smart is in and Lockett is out. Let's hope that this is the right move by the ST Liontamer Mike Benevides.

Return yardage for the Lions was down some 1.5 yards on average less than opponents apparently. The very predictable return game led by Liontamer Benevides is really what and who Buono should have been calling out if you think that calling out is the way to tame your charges.

It boils down to a coaching and management philosophy as to the use and effectiveness of a coach calling out an individual and making one player the sacrificial lamb when an individual's personal performance is really not the issue.

Last year the players took the heat for the offensive Lion tamers offense and predictability. During the year Wally defended his OC but after the season and the team's demise in the play offs, Wally admitted changes needed to be made and they got made. Quite clearly, Wally wouldn't call out his coaches during the season and it'd be refreshing to this fan if he didn't call out individual players before their demise. Even when Steve Burratto left Wally was guilty of saying what he didn't need to say to the media that one guy was always offside and that was Burratto. Just let it and the person go. You don't have to trash them to justify your decisions but this is a Buono personality type I suppose. It reminds me of the bozos who let Wally out of Calgary's behaviour. Not all class.

This is not about Wally Buono not being a very good coach - he is. It is about Buono aspiring to being a better coach as he racks up one of the winningest records in football - very much like he wants his coaches and players to aspire to be better players.

As to the Canucks and your what have they done for you lately mantra, therein lies the weakness of your I support Wally wail. That is typical old line thinking so prevalent in the CFL over marketing the sizzle and not just the steak. If you look around those losers now own this city and Canuck hockey is discussed ad nauseum. But when the Lions and the CFL get discussed the radio guys always get to the negatives as these are what they hear from guys like Buono himself. The coverage is good but it always contains that knock. Go and listen to Dan Russell's Sport Talk audio vault tape after 11 pm - likely around 1130 pm - where he talks football. He says, when he looks at the CFL he sees one top team, Lions, and the rest not so good. Now this is what he has been hearing others say. I can watch the deadliest of NFL Monday nite football games but you will not hear that product being knocked by the very people who promote the game as they know it gets the media worked up.

I think we've seen the last of Liontamer after his two posts praising the head Liontamer and his Special Team decision making. Yes, Wally and Mike's ST decisions were "special" yesterday...very special indeed.

Arrogance is the first word that comes to mind followed closely by coaching stupidity.

Come in Liontamer...we are waiting with baited Lion breath for your defense of that decision making.

Ian Smart burnt up the field too...what an upgrade. Heard he was not so good in practice... Team 1040 radio yesterday said Smart had a mediocre practice including a fall backwards?? Tell us about that..

The Team 1040... give me a break!! I was at the practice on Friday and was there longer than the Team 1040 person. There was nothing wrong with Ian Smart at that practice and he looked promising. And by the way the Team 1040 person seemed more interested in talking on her cell phone than actually watching the practice. But in defence.. the rest of the reporters did not seem that interested either.. except when it came time to do their interviews.

You have a short memory. You call that guy in Toronto, whats his name? Who continued to hold onto Damon, which everyone here from what I remember didnt want him around cause he wasnt that exciting enough? 17-20000 fans a game? You are missing the point on going back to full stadiums. Some where full, others were not. We had a great team back in the 80's. I remember my first game at b.C. place, 33,000 people, so it took the team some winning to fill it. They did in the 80's when the no-fun-leage didnt have as much coverage up here, the dollar was better back then(compared to 90's)and the canucks where at 7-8000 a game. Ya, great hockey town here. Braley brought back Ackles, and the fans started to come back. I'm happy with the 30 to 35,000 for a Canadian product. Montreal can only dream of this. As for Locket, most returners in the league are having trouble but he has stalled and is calling him out. But hey, lets get ridicle Buono for returning football to B.C. and lets go to seeing blue seats after he goes. I'm sure you will enjoy the 90's again, and average 3rd place teams and no Western Finals. Who wants those troubles