Sorta O/T - How not to market your sports team

Another free tutorial, compliments of "your" Hamilton Bulldogs, on how to completely erode a fanbase in just under a season.

http://thespec.com/Sports/article/743513

In a season where you've posted a whopping 49 wins, rather than telling anyone with ears about this record-breaking season, the Bulldogs have decided to build brand equity by loudly revving the proverbial moving trucks. Wow, I'd actually pay to see the full seminar on this marketing adventure -- if nothing else, it would be quite comedic.

After spending more than 10 years in advertising and marketing, this case study would rival many of the head-scratching greats, like "The New Taste of Coke", that find their way into university text books across the nation.

This quote here is one of my fave's --"I think there are more Bulldogs fans in Montreal than there are in Hamilton," said Andlauer, who has been critical of both the lack of fan support and political support in Hamilton."

The humour certainly isn't lost on me. I find it pretty hilarious that someone would dream of overtly marketing a Montreal team in Hamilton. And, of course, throwing a pot-shot at your potential customers is giggle worthy as well. A rather abrasive way to invite guests over, I'd say.

But, wait, it gets better. Check this out...

"...And Hamilton, he said, shouldn't worry about being without a hockey team. "Hamilton is a proven AHL city," said Andlauer who thinks another NHL team would look at bringing their farm team here if the Bulldogs ever left."

A fantastic way to end the article. To me, this basically says that if an owner wanted to come into town and put a half-decent effort into it, then a team could succeed -- as it is a 'proven AHL city'. Confusing, yet enlightening at the same time.

It sure doesn't seem all that long ago that the Dogs were eyeing in on 6,000 a game. The on-ice performance certainly couldn't be better than this year. Alas, the city's connection to the team seems to be at it's weakest. That equation leads me to but only a few conclusions -- most are evident in this article.

I also find these befuddling strategies so suprising now that, just down the road, the Ticats seem to be doing exactly what's necessary. Building a connection with the fans, fostering an emotional bond with the brand, and solidifying the team as a fabric of the community. When the on-field product was, arguably, some of the worst in CFL history, nearly 20,000 were still willing to lay down cash to watch it.

I'm not saying this market isn't without its challenges -- there's no doubt it isn't easy. However, there's 'trying, struggling and failing', and then there's simple self-sabotage. As a diehard hockey fan, and near-obnoxiously proud Hamiltonian, I want to get behind this team. Now, I'd say even a trip to the finals would make it difficult for me to open my wallet for them.

As a Toronto Maple Leafs fan why would I pay a penny to support the Montreal Canadiens franchise even if there is a "Hamilton" name on the product?

What does boggle my mind though is with the amount of Leaf-haters I encounter on a day to day basis you would think there would be more support for the Canadiens/Bulldogs around here.

I don't hate the Leaf's, just not a fan.I just hate how many Leaf worshipper's there are around here.Convinced year after year that they're going to be the #1 team all through the season and win the Stanley cup.I admire loyalty but kissing the feet of mediocrity is sickening.Don't like the Canadiens either because no matter how crap they are during the season, they always refer back to how many titles they've won and suddenly that make's them good.I don't have a favourite team persay, but I would rank mine as follow's:
1.Calgary Flames
2.Buffalo Sabres
3.Chicago Blackhawks
4.Columbus Blue Jackets
5.San Jose Sharks
....
27.Edmonton Oilers
28.Montreal Canadiens
29.Dallas Stars
30.Toronto Maple Leafs

I don't really see anything wrong with what he said the proof is in the pudding,14-15,000 vs 3700.
Im sure there is more Marlies fans in Toronto then there is in Laval!

You could say that Ti-Cat fans are guilty of both these things as well. Let's be honest, we supported far worse than mediocrity during the Bob Young Era. What's our best record? 9-8-1 or something like that? We also like to toss about the "only team to win a title in every decade" stuff when times are rough. Sure, Leaf fans (of which I am one) and Canadiens fans can be among the most arrogant bunch, but our hands are far from clean. We're fans, we support our team through thick and thin. It's what makes us better than those fairweather Arg-hole fans in T.O.

I think one the reasons the Dogs have such a hard time finding a fan base is that the AHL is seen as bush league. Hamiltonians want an NHL team, and nothing short of that will get them to plunk down money on a consistent basis for pro hockey. The Cats have a connection with the community because they have been here for so long. They are part of the very fabric of our city. The Bulldogs are not and they likely never will be.

I can't help but shake my head at how depressing this news is. The Bulldogs have been here for 13 seasons and still Hamilton hasn't truly warmed up to them. I just don't understand why support for the Bulldogs isn't there, especially considering they won the cup in 2007 and right now they've already clinched top spot for the playoffs with some 10 games to go. The team is doing exceptionally well and they still have low attendance figures. :frowning:

The other thing, for all those people saying "We'll only support an NHL team" that if the Bulldogs move, every single naysayer for a team will say "We can't even support an AHL franchise". You aren't going to prove that Hamilton is a haven for Hockey with news like this, or by having a team move. Yeah I know, we are in Leafs territory but if this happens, it hurts the city without a doubt having no tenant for Copps. Maybe we would at least keep the name if we did get another AHL team. :frowning:

Anyways, this weekend the Bulldogs are playing the Rochester Americans and the Manitoba Moose on Sat and then Sun, if anyone wants to see some decent and reasonably priced hockey. Give the dogs a little love.

People just make excuses not to go.

Oh, they are affiliated with the Canadiens! (Okay but don't forget that when the CFL season is on you hate the Argos even though they are from Toronto but in the same breath root for the Leafs)

Tickets are too expensive!

Don't know when the games are!

Parking is expensive!

Etc, Etc, Etc.

To me, the team is affiliated with Hamilton so I will cheer for them. I don't go because the product is not that good.I prefer to go to the Hamilton Red Wings (JR A at the Dave Andrychuk Mountain Arena). Their games are faster, more intense, and less expensive.

Copps is way too big for the Bulldogs. I konw, I know, I know they put up a stupid curtain but still. If we had a small arena like in Kitchener, or London, you would see more fans out. A smaller arena puts you closer to the action and a louder crowd.

I have no issue with what the owner is doing. I would do the exact same thing if the city ignores you for 6 months as they try to get an NHL franchise and also have a clause in your contract to the hell out if an NHL team does come here.

No one will care if the Bulldogs leave. We don't support them as it is so I won't be a big deal.

I think the Ti-cats and Bulldogs face a lot of the same marketing problems. For the record I am both a big fan of the Cats and Dog’s. I frequent multiple games each year to both teams as I love football and hockey of any types. The biggest problem as one poster mentioned and this doesn’t pertain to the AHL. I pertains to both CFL and AHL. Even more so to the CFL from what I’ve gathered from most people I’ve talked to. They are both seen as bush league the AHL to a lesser extent because of the fact they are associated to the NHL so closely (same rules and a lot of players will be future NHLer’s) where as the CFL is seen as the bushest league as they come (not associated to any NFL team and very few players go onto the NFL each year.) I agree the dogs have been marketed horrible as each year in most cases a high quality team has been put on the ice and a playoff team in a much bigger league. The Cat’s as well to say the least have not been marketed and made some major mistakes as well. Of course failure to make the playoffs for so many years in small league hasn’t helped their cause any. I know some fans will say how great the ticats have marketed the team, but it really hasn’t when you consider a good bulk of the fans are returning fans and loyal hardcores. They really haven’t had a huge influx of new fans who return on a regular basis. I would guess in that even in the early years the Ti-Cats that the numbers were inflated greatly with freebies and our paid attendance was like more in the neighbourhood of 22k. We still only average 20k currently in an area that is highly populated with neighbouring cities with good disposable income at hand. Yet the marketing of the ti-cats has not done anything to try and show this league is not and team is not bush league, but in many cases they have verified to many on lookers that their misconceptions are right. Sadly too many people have misjudged the league and team without ever giving it a chance. To say this is just a case of the Dog’s being marketed poor is an understatement. Living in Burlington/Oakville myself I can say the team is hardly marketed there and most people do not even know when games are being played or when home games will be. We can’t keep the onus on the customer to find information because to most new fans they need to be spoon fed to say hey this might be a great thing to do on a nice Sat night. Currently both the Dog’s and Cat’s have one major problem from what I see in their marketing and that is it has been on the large part directed only to Hamilton and not the surrounding cities.

I can tell you one thing, this city called Hamilton is one up spectator sports city right now. The dumb city builds an NHL arena for an NHL team they never had and still don't have meanwhile the arena isn't even as classy as a OHL arena in London.

And we're supposed to trust these imbeciles that the Rheem site is the cure-all for "rebuilding Hamilton" with the stadium "plan" there that the Ticats and sponsors don't like? What a joke, this city is turning into one big sports joke and if I'm Bob Young, I'm outa quick as ever unless I get exactly what I want from this mickey mouse city that can't even compete with an OHL team for prestige in arenas and stadiums. Pretty sad when an OHL arena makes the CFL stadium here with wooden plank benches and splinters look Junior C and even makes the so-called NHL arena look bush.

Wake up Hamilton city council, right now Bob Young is your only path to some respectibility in sports in this town. But I'm sure they still don't get it there Fred and company.

I see, so the current city council is to blame for the actions of the city council in the 1980s. :roll:

ADAWG, a very well thought out and true post.

I think if there was no team in Hamilton the majority of us would probably route gasp for the Argos. It pains me to even think about it, but it makes sense. Most people are Leafs fans due to geography and parenting. I can't imagine it'd be much different with the CFL if the Cats didn't exist. I don't think dislike for the city has much to do with it. I hate the Argos more than any other sports team -- more than the Sens, the Cowboys, the Pats, or USC -- but I like the Leafs.

On topic, I don't hate the Dogs just because they are affiliated with the Canadiens. I didn't hate them when they were affiliated with the Oilers. To be perfectly honest, I just don't care for hockey that much anymore. I know it's not the Dogs fault, but the lockout ruined hockey for me.

Yeah, I think just the majority of Canadian citizens, or Hamiltonians hate Bettman for the lockout and "The Southern Expansion". I will say this, if we lost the team, I'd probably jump on the Rider bandwagon, be it Ottawa or Sask. instead of cheering the Argos.

If the Cats ever left, I'd never root for TO. Never, never, NEVER! I'd either become an Esks or Riders fan. Let's just hope it never comes to that.

How could you love a team that is so vehemently against Hamilton having an NHL team.

The Leafs are dead to me.

Bad parenting.

If the Cats ever left Hamilton, I would too.Tiger-Cats don't play for the city, they ARE the city.Attendance may not show it but good luck finding someone who's not a die hard Cat fan around here.

See, in my opinion, I see the CFL as being far more legitimate than the AHL -- mainly because the players are property of the team. In the AHL, guys can come and go as the parent club requires. And, while players would definitely prefer to be playing in the NFL, most CFLers still get connected to their community. Either knowing that they aren't going to the NFL, or planning to make the most of it while they're here.

AHL players really don't want to be there.

I also think, contrary to many on here, that the Cats have been a relative success despite an absolutely horrible product. And we aren't talking about a little skid here and there. Nearly a decade of atrocious football in an 8 or 9 team league. The fact that there is a fanbase at all speaks volumes about how hard the Cats staff has worked on making the Ticat brand bigger than the product.

The Bulldogs seem cemented in the 'come and see good hockey' model of selling product. And then, when all your potential customers are based lined up, waving their hands in their air saying 'look at me', during the Balsillie-led NHL drive, the team basically shunned them. Guilting them like jealous little brother.

Could you just imagine if the Bulldogs used their brains and positioned their brand as the platform that leads to the NHL -- both for the players and, perhaps, even for the city? Now there's something I can put some emotion behind --- plus, it was pretty clear that the 'emotion' element had already been established. All the Dogs had to do was try and leverage something someone else had built. Instead, they pushed those people away.