Every year I make a little pilgrimage down to Seattle to watch one of my non-footballing loves, the San Francisco 49ers, play the Seahawks. Four years straight and counting.
Who gives a toss I hear you say? That’s throwball, not proper football.
True. Different sport, but that’s not to say that football and MLS can’t learn a few things about marketing opportunities from the guys with funny shaped balls.
As an outsider, there’s a lot in North American sporting culture that I don’t understand. The need to make things razzamatazz, the obsession people have with college sports and the blanket sterile corporateness of it all at times.
It’s not my culture and just because I’m not used to it, doesn’t make it wrong. Hey, when in Rome, wear a toga and have orgies.
I’ve been introduced to some great stuff too though such as the fanatstic work the players do in community, tailgating and gameday promotions.
Coming from a grassroots football background and as a fan of the lower leagues, I absolutely detest the commercialisation of the game worldwide. Yet, I love some gameday promotions! Go figure. Must be the Scottishness in me for getting free stuff!
I’ve blogged before about freebies handed out at games, especially post match at Swangard, but I was blown away by the kind of freebies Seattle Seahawks had on offer for actual in game performance.
Touchdowns, sacks and a whole host of stuff led to free coffee, jerky and even haircuts for the Hawks fans in attendance.
One of my favourites came from Top Pot Doughnuts. A 100 yard rusher got you a free coffee. A 100 yard receiver, a free doughnut. Nothing rewards sporting achievements better than doughnuts!
As a visiting supporter, who saw the Niners trounced, I could go home with the consoling knowledge that at least I qualified for a free stack of pancakes on my way back up to Van if I found the need to bury my face in batter filled sorrow.
I’m sure this type of promotion is also rife throughout football in North America, especially outside of MLS.
Of course, it doesn’t always have to be a tie up for the gain of the supporter. You can also take a literal leaf out of Portland Timbers book and do something for the planet.
This season, the Timbers have joined forces with Friends of Trees. Every time the Timbers score a goal at a home match, the club and JELD-WEN will plant a tree in the Portland community through the Score a Goal, Plant a Tree partnership with Friends of Trees.
That’s all very tree huggingly nice but not as good as free stuff just for me!
So should the Whitecaps adopt such gimmicks?
Most of those of a more pure football variety (of which I am also one usually), would baulk at such ideas. Commercialism gone mad. The ruination of the game. And yes, it is all those things, but look at the possibilities.
Tim Hortons could give every fan in attendance a free coffee for every Gershon Koffie goal and Cocoa Tanning some free sunbed time for ones by Long Tan.
Diving Locker could give money off scuba lessons for every booking Camilo gets for diving. Free burgers at Red Robin for Eric Hassli red cards?
If only we had Medieval Times here for Wes Knight.
I’m winning you over aren’t I?
With the gazillion corporate sponsors that the Whitecaps have on board I’m surprised the Caps FO haven’t already come up with such ideas. I’d much rather have this than the pair of Bell headphones that I got when I left the opener.
If nothing else, it would make the less glamourous games against the likes of Chivas and Dallas that little bit more interesting.
He shoots, he scores, we win, we all win post game too!