Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Marketing The Raiders

Ray Ratto of the San Francisco Chronicle is dead wrong in his recent column about Oakland Raiders game attendance and related team marketing. He suggests that performance on the field is paramount and correlative to stadium sellouts, and that marketing is essentially meaningless in comparison. So how do you explain 62,000 in paid attendance at Ford Field to watch the Lions lose again on October 31? How do you explain 70,000 in paid attendance at M&T Bank Stadium to watch the Ravens lose again on November 6? In the parity-ridden NFL, in which today’s victor is tomorrow’s loser, no team can count on winning as its foundation for economic viability.

I’m not saying that winning doesn’t help, but it’s far from the whole enchilada. In fact, rooting for the underdog is a quintessentially American pastime—as is marketing. Thus, the potential of marketing should not be underestimated when it comes to the Oakland Raiders. The fact is that the average consumer appreciates and responds to good marketing. We expect a hard sell. We welcome a strong pitch. We love a great idea.

The great idea for the Raiders resides in growing the team's fan base, specifically in terms of game attendance. It resides in countering misperceptions about Raiders fans and the Coliseum experience while remaining true to the authenticity and intensity that define the Raider Nation. This is a fine line that will require some smart marketing.

Let me say this: Pretending that a Raiders game is all sugar and lollipops, as earlier advertising campaigns have implied, would be a mistake. However, the same old thing won’t work, either, as evidenced in the lack of sellouts, as well as in the ample anecdotal feedback from folks who confess to being scared to attend a Raiders game, or who are otherwise misinformed about what it means to be a Raiders fan. In this context, it is the marketing message, more than the marketing methods, that will pave the road to success.

At this point, you may be asking: Why should I care about all this? Here's why: In the wake of the recent decision to eliminate the Oakland Football Marketing Association and to turn ticketing and marketing matters over to the team, the marketing of the Oakland Raiders enters a new and crucial era—one that will likely determine whether or not you and your kids will be able to attend a Raiders game in Oakland six years from now.

Raiders fans are the finest and most dedicated fans in the NFL. We in the Raider Nation don’t need to worry about losing fans. But we do need to worry about adding fans and filling seats. The Coliseum lease is up in five years. The Raiders rank near the bottom in revenue in the NFL. The Raiders are a business. If you connect the dots, you will quickly see that if the team doesn’t become more economically viable by 2010, Oakland could find itself in the Raiders’ rear-view mirror.

We can’t count on a fancy new stadium to save the day (what's wrong with the Coliseum, anyway?). We probably can’t count on cheaper tickets, either. Winning is never assured in today’s NFL. So what’s left? Smart marketing, the kind of marketing that will open people’s eyes, that will tap into the greatness of the Raiders gameday experience and bring newcomers into the fold.

The best kept entertainment secret in the Bay Area is a day at the Coliseum, in the company of good people, in appreciation of a great team. It's time to let the secret out.


Blogger Matt Smith said...

Part of the problem is that Oakland as a city has a reputation for real inner city problems, so when you put that gangsta kind of profile in a costume that would be frightening on Halloween, people are scared off. And even though it may have been meant as light hearted, the Raiders have to live down the kind of articles that compound the reputation that was represented in this article, when ESPN sent a couple of chicks into the Black Hole. This doesn't make people want to bring their children to a Raiders game, because it's presented as a foul mouthed frenzy with guys peeing in their seats.

I know it's an old article but shows what the Raiders are up against if they want to bring in more than just the Raider Nation.

Hopefully this new ticketing deal will mean that the stadium fills up so we can watch it on TV if we can't make it to a game. That doesn't help, either.

12:50 PM  
Blogger Raider Take said...

You prove my point, perhaps? Smart marketing will neutralize media bias. It will open eyes. It might even convince you of the following:

1. Every city has problems. Miami, Jacksonville, Baltimore, Tampa Bay, Nashville and Houston are all NFL cities that rank on this list of Highest Violent Crime Rates in the U.S, according to this list. Oakland is not on the list.

2. Those guys in dresses and pig noses at Redskins games are scarier than anything I’ve seen at a Raiders game!

3. F-bombs, weird stunts, etc. are a potential hazard at any mass event. The only fight I’ve seen in the Coliseum parking lot was after an A’s baseball game last year. I once smelled a lot of weed at a Counting Crows concert (trust me, I was dragged to that show). Parental discretion is always advised.

A Raiders game might not be everyone’s cup of tea (just as a 49ers game isn’t my plate of brie). That’s fine. My main point remains that winning isn’t everything when it comes to selling tickets, and that many folks would love the Raiders gameday experience if they just gave it a chance.

4:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's the price. period.
The Oakland Whatever-The-F Burro of Ticket Taxing charges close to 100% on everything.
With the team taking over the whole thing next year, I expect a HUGE turnaround. I think ticket prices will probably drop by about 30%. (To bad it won't help me unless I move to Cali.

5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What the Raiders need is to market their team cheap, plain and simple.
People will come if they package some deals like the warriors do, throw in a free hot dog and coke. If you make it affordable to come they will, and then when people have seen it is just another family event, you have a fan base.

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Raiders need to solve their image of not being family or visiting team friendly. A precentage of fans come to each event rooting for the other team in any venue. It is not disrespectful for the Oakland Raiders to have a fan from the visiting team buy a ticket, it is essential for sell outs and profitable for the Raiders. Why would you want to discourage that if you are a true Raider fan. All that is needed is to beef up security, I have been to Raider games in the upper deck and have smelt marijuana on a number of occasions. Let the word out that security is tight and fans who get out of line will not be tolerated and package that with cheap tickets and free hot dogs and cokes and you have the makings of a loyal fan base.

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