Welcome to Your (Cosmos) Country Needs You, where we explore the marketing possibilities for the Boys in Green — er, the front office in green — in getting more butts in seats, more jerseys on backs, and spreading the gospel of the World Famous New York Cosmos.
With rumors of the club’s move to Brooklyn at a fever pitch in recent weeks, we can skip right to the fun part. Let’s suppose the final hurdles are cleared, and immediately following our final Fall Season game on October 29, the club calls a press conference to let the world (or at least, you know, the soccer world) know that the Cosmos will have a new address in the spring, and it WILL be MCU Park.
That gives the ‘Mos about five months to build awareness and ensure the move was a good idea. Ultimately, the decision to move from Hofstra will almost certainly be made without much say-so from the marketing department, through a number of factors beyond their control. But it will be on them to make it awesome.
Hello Brooklyn, How You Doin’?
The Cosmos have to go big, early, to show the Brooklyn faithful that they’re not an option of last resort. And what better way than a big ass party? I would prescribe a daylong celebration featuring a coed 3v3 soccer tournament with multiple age divisions, a row of food trucks, local bands, and the latest offering from local Brooklyn breweries like Sixpoint, Other Half, Empire, and potential future beer partners Brooklyn Brewery or Coney Island Brewery.
Naturally, soccer tournament winners get season tickets, participants get single games. I’d show some love from the sponsors with drawings for air travel + away game tickets courtesy of Emirates, Under Armour soccer balls and gear, etc. Ideally, you’d want to host something like this the day before a Cosmos playoff game at MCU, but could use another popular spot like Brooklyn Bridge Park or McCarren Park as a fallback location.
A Hazy Shade of Winter
The move to Brooklyn changes the ground game entirely for the critical season ticket sales window starting in November. Current season ticket holders’ home addresses are already in the club’s email database, along with all the single game and mini-plan buyers that would most likely consider an upgrade. So I would push an email offer that handily supplies Google Maps routes to MCU from their home, both by car and public trans. Make it easy for them.
To expand beyond the current core, capturing a lot of email addresses will be critical over the next few months. So marketing really needs to be creative with organizations that may have like-minded fans, and either form partnerships with them or outright buy their lists.
The Cyclones are an obvious first step. All those bands from the aforementioned “big ass party?” They likely have smaller mailing lists, but at least they’re lists of locals that are open to the idea of going out. Everyone that’s taken the Brooklyn Brewery tour in recent years. Members of endemic Meetup groups like Brooklyn Pickup Soccer and First Touch FC. I would go after all of them with BOGO offers for the home opener and group discounts for season tickets.
Do you Wanna Dance?
A move gives the club a chance to reevaluate partner brands. Some of the current ones won’t make sense based on simple geography, like Peak Performance. Some won’t work based on logistics — MCU currently has nine pouring partners, none of which are Sam Adams. Others may just be a misfit with the refreshed value of the Cosmos brand that comes with a move to the five boroughs. I’m looking at you, toilet seat from the future. So the partnership sales group has just as many creative options as ticket sales. Off the top of my head:
- Airbnb is the title sponsor for the wildly popular Brooklyn Half Marathon, and a partnership where their hosts in the city can purchase discounted single game tickets for their arriving guests would make a lot of sense. It’s a scaled down, and uniquely Brooklyn, version of the relationship hotel concierges in major cities have had with MLB, NFL, and NBA teams for decades.
- Ride sharing services like Lyft and Uber are now on the table with a move to the five boroughs, and that seems (to me, at least) like a totally parallel experience to the existing Rally partnership. And they could kick off the new season with surprise pickups from Gio and some of the players.
- A thoughtful approach to packaging a partnership with distinctly Brooklyn spots like Rough Trade or Brooklyn Roasting Company would go a long way in building Brooklyn street cred. I’d love a Cosmos travel mug packaged with a ticket to the 2017 home opener.
This is Family Business
While Brooklyn opens up tremendous opportunities among the young urbanites that are gentrifying the borough in the first place (you might even say “hipsters”), the Cosmos can’t forget where they came from either. Even as numbers dwindle at Hofstra, you can still count on a healthy percentage of parents with children in the stands. A family-friendly approach and close relationship with youth soccer is critical to any team in the States, and especially one that’s forced to compete with two MLS clubs in the vicinity.
Nothing flashy here, but the marketing group needs to perform fundamental community and public relations pushes like on-field children’s clinics, school and youth soccer practice visits from players and coaches, and consistent coverage from local broadcast and family-centric media outlets. Think NY1, Big Apple Parent and Time Out New York Kids.
These are a few thoughts around the adjacent, possible move to MCU. Love them, hate them, or have your own? Let us know in the comments. And hopefully we can all clink a (souvenir Jimmy Maurer) glass in Brooklyn in the spring.