A Different Game

Thoughts on sports, technology, and marketing from CaptainU

MLS Has Come So Far

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by Avi

Major League Soccer used to be the most insecure league in American sports. Teams played in vast, largely empty football stadiums, a few crashed and burned (see: Tampa Bay Mutiny, Miami Fusion), others changed their names in adolescent “who am I” crises (see: San Jose Clash, Dallas Burn, New York/New Jersey Metrostars.)

Perhaps most importantly, they had no sense of humor. Teams and the league took themselves too seriously.

Amidst all of that, MLS has survived and has reached a point in some areas — namely, the Pacific Northwest — where it’s thriving. It’s hard to say whether it’s cause, effect, or entirely uncorrelated, but it sure is nice to see some of the humor and tongue-in-cheek marketing that until recently had been reserved for secure and established leagues and SportsCenter commercials.

Tip of the hat to the Portland Timers and Alaska Airlines for this spot:

Written by Avi

Thursday, June 16, 2011 at 8:22 pm

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Mark Cuban Cigar

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by John

Earlier this week, the Dallas Mavericks won the NBA Finals and finally, after coming so close in 2006 in a loss to the Miami Heat, Mark Cuban received the NBA Championship Trophy for the first time.

Ever since buying the team in 2000, Mark has been known for his enthusiasm and energy behind the team’s bench at every game. Some might even say that Mark takes it a bit too far. The NBA has fined Cuban at least $1,665,000 for 13 incidents that range from yelling at players to even storming the court.

But after the Mavericks won the NBA Finals this week, Cuban, took his enthusiasm to the next level. Taking the entire team out for a parade and after party, Cuban racked up a grand bill of over $1.5 million (over 1.2million on the parade in Dallas & over $110,000 bar tab in Miami).

“It was worth every penny!”

Written by Avi

Thursday, June 16, 2011 at 4:11 pm

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A Raging Debate

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by Avi

Thanks to the Boston Bruins, a raging debate broke out in our Chicago office this morning. What’s the best trophy in sports?

In the end, we agreed to disagree. But there was unanimity on one thing: the two best trophies in sports are the Stanley Cup and the Jules Rimet Trophy (for the World Cup.)

For me, however, there’s no question. The Stanley Cup is cool in that every winner’s name gets engraved on it (and as a result it keeps growing.) But there is no trophy I covet more than the World Cup.

A

Written by Avi

Thursday, June 16, 2011 at 8:28 am

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The Power of 10 Letters

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By Eddie

@KingJames: Now or Never!!

10 letters was all it took to send the media into a frenzied storm on the eve of game 5 in the NBA playoffs this past week. The words were not uttered at a presser, during a shoot around or even in a one on one interview, they were delivered via the increasingly popular platform of Twitter. While many will argue that Twitter is a curse that will eventually be the downfall of many, see Rep. Weiner, it has shown an undeniable ability to shift and control the momentum of stories surrounding sports.

The previous tweet from Maurice Jones-Drew was one of a series of tweets by NFL players that lead to a media onslaught of Jay Cutler following Chicago’s demise in the NFC Championship game. Instead of asking him and his fellow teammates what happened to his knee and looking for a reasonable explanation, the media immediately began looking for a weakness in his character and comments on his leadership. These story lines continued, regardless of the fact that all of his teammates stood steadfastly by his side and rebuked all notions that Cutler had quit on the team or taken the easy road out. We soon came to find out that Cutler had taken two separate Cortizone shots in his knee at halftime and eventually learned that he had torn his MCL. However, none of that mattered after the game because Twitter has already started the media in a completely opposite direction.

As we move forward technology will only continue to influence and change the way we watch, observe and comment on sport. We can only hope that the general media will learn to temper their reactions to things like Facebook and Twitter – and begin taking them for what they are most of the time: 140 characters of off the cuff emotions. Instead of reacting like every tweet is a steadfast opinion to be denounce, analyzed and scrutinized from every angle.

Written by Avi

Wednesday, June 15, 2011 at 9:22 am

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What We Remember

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The NBA Finals are over and I’ve almost forgotten already who won. Okay, not quite. But give me 6 months and I’ll have to think long and hard about who won. Give it a try yourself: can you remember who won the last World Cup, Stanley Cup, World Series, and Superbowl? Let’s go even deeper: who won the last Masters, Australian Open, and Olympic decathlon?

It’s interesting how the small detail of who actually won often doesn’t stick. Sports marketers are well aware of that.

Instead of hitting us with statistics, history, and text, they put unforgettable images in front of us. Think of Larry Bird and Michael Jordan shooting from the rafters in the famous McDonald’s H-O-R-S-E ad. Does anyone remember who was playing in the Superbowl when that ad debuted?

Sitting in Chicago, I’m biased no doubt, but one thing I’ll remember for a long time is the adidas Derrick Rose commercial. The images of Rose in Chicago, with a kind of haunting soundtrack playing behind L trains, a barber shop, and the playground where he played growing up are hard to forget. The raw, grainy footage makes it hit home in an emotional way — one that’s hard to forget.

 

Written by Avi

Monday, June 13, 2011 at 11:53 am

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A genius calls it a day

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Shaq retired today. His swan song: a spectacular, simple, user generated video to say bye bye.

Written by Avi

Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 2:42 pm

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Leo Messi’s Other Area of Expertise

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There have been a zillion superlatives used to describe Lionel Messi in the run up to tomorrow’s Champions League final. Among others, I’ve seen “visionary,” “magician,” “phenomenon.”

But I haven’t seen this one: “marketing genius.” I’ll be the first to say it. Leo Messi is a marketing genius.

I was waiting for a meeting today, thumbing through Facebook on my iPhone when I saw the post above. Messi took a couple pictures of his special Champions League Final boots. Could anything be more straightforward and simple? Pull out the phone, snap a pic and post it. With the greatest of ease, he gives his millions of followers a taste of the inside story — exactly what they yearn for.

The result: 180,000+ likes and 24,000+ comments.

A simple picture proves to be an awesome way to engage hundreds of thousands of fans.

Written by Avi

Friday, May 27, 2011 at 4:35 pm

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