What Do I Get ?

Everyone wants something from this world. Football fans usually want more than most.

We want a winning team on the pitch. We want carte blanche to do what we want off it. We don’t want the front office to interfere with our enjoyment of the game, whilst also wanting their ear when we don’t think things are as they should be.

Yes, many of us supporters are a right pain in the ass for the football clubs we follow.

It’s through love and sometimes misguided self interests and beliefs of course, and if the clubs could operate without the fans then I’m sure they would.

Ultimately, what it all boils down to is that the clubs need us, and we need the clubs.

It’s still always nice to get something back from your monetary and emotional investment in your team though.

As Vancouver Whitecaps fans, we seem to be getting the rough end of the stick compared to some of our MLS rivals, especially our Cascadian cousins.

One of the advantages of travelling around to away games is that it opens your eyes to what supporters of other teams are getting back from their clubs and their corporate sponsors.

Some go down the promotional gameday route. Try and get some more bums on the seats by matchday giveaways. Some pre match, some during the match and some post match.

This isn’t exactly something that the Whitecaps need to adopt thankfully, although we shouldn’t take this for granted and take continued high attendance as a given.

Our supporters turn out to watch the football willingly, not brought there by some gimmick or other, or regular cheap tickets via “deals” sites.

When AFTN was down in Chivas in June, they had an amazing deal for the Caps game that night, and also one for the Timbers game three days later – 4 tickets and 2 Chivas USA scarves for only $45. Excellent value.

Probably just as well we’re not doing a lot of gameday promotions, as some of the promotional days so far at Empire have been a little strange.

Who, for example, thought it was a great idea to give out orange Home Depot branded cheer banners? I know that’s the colours of the business, but what the hell has that got to do with the Whitecaps colours and especially that “sea of white” that they have been so keen to promote? It would work a treat for the BC Lions obviously.

When we were at Qwest for the Sounders game, Samsung Mobile and AT&T gave out really neat two-sided pullout ‘rollabanas’, branded totally in Sounders colours – primarily green and white on one side, blue and white on the other. They were also very reusable and small enough to easily carry around and bring from game to game.

I loved them. They’d work a treat for the Caps support.

Then we had the BC Hydro Family Night, where prizes were given out to fans that went through that most family friendly of things on the concourse, the Budweiser beer tent.

I do love my post match freebies though. I’m Scottish, so of course I do! We talked about these before during our Swangard days. Being in the press box till after the final whistle most games this season, I don’ t know how many of these there have been, but I did love the free car flag giveaway after one particular game that I saw. Saturday’s game will see 5,000 magnetic frames handed out.

We do have another pre and post match freebie to look forward to on Saturday, as your Whitecaps ticket for the Houston game will also grant you free access to the PNE Fair, both before and after the game. Excellent stuff, but will it be a celebratory ice cream cone or an eat your sorrows away in bag after bag of mini doughnuts kind of day?

What has been particularly interesting for me to note this season is how little Whitecaps fans are actually getting back from the club’s corporate sponsors.

We’ve been praised for bringing so many sponsors in this season, especially to what many still consider to be a work in progress, albeit a 37 year old one.

It’s been great that so many companies want to be involved with the Caps. We know how great it is to be a Whitecaps supporter and it’s good to see others realising that too.

All this money that’s coming in can only bode well for the future. Hopefully it will help with our youth development programs and in paying the wages of quality players on a continued basis, meaning winning teams, happier fans, an even bigger fanbase and more exposure for the sponsors.

But what’s in it directly for the fans?

Well, at AFTN we got a giant headache from the Whitecaps travel sponsor Uniglobe, but apart from that, very little would appear to be the answer.

The Caps bank partner is Bank of Montreal, a company who have invested a lot in Canadian football and have been long time sponsors of the Whitecaps. They do a lot investment in youth football.

All very well and good, but apart from the dreadful ‘wave your card in the air’ seat move, fans aren’t exactly seeing a lot of direct benefit from this tie up.

I’m currently looking to change my bank. Would I consider switching to BMO because they sponsor the Caps? No. If I was in Portland, would I consider switching to their bank partner KeyBank? Hell, yeah.

You see, Key Bank offered Timbers fans a fantastic incentive to move to them and have a definite perceived value for their involvement with the club and the fans.

If you switched and opened up a Key Bank account from mid June until July 8th you got an autographed Timbers jersey signed by Darlington Nagbe (spit) or Kenny Cooper. You were also given tickets to an exclusive reception to meet the players at Piggy Park. Great stuff.

KeyBank also produced a fantastic “Inaugural Goal Flip Book” that was given away at the game against New York on June 19th.

Not only all that, but KeyBank also have an excellent club for the little ‘uns. The LTFC – The Little Timbers Fan Club.

There are two options for joining the LTFC. One costs $15 and has a $150 value, the other costs $5 and has a $100 value.

Both give you a free season ticket to the Timbers Reserves games.

As we said on Wednesday, these games can play an important part in attracting the new, young fanatic.

Both also give you newsletters, 10% discount of merchandise and exclusive contests and events. There was a post-game special party at Piggy Park after the Reserves game on Sunday for example.

The $15 package also gives you the nice looking scarf featured above.

As someone who worked in banking for 16 years, I know how hard it is to get kids used to saving and take an interest in it in the first place. The LTFC is the ideal way to get them to take an interest in not squandering their money and build an early banking partnership for the future.

If I was a kid, or a parent with kids, I’d love KeyBank’s involvement and would look very favourably on them for all my banking needs.

I’m sure we all remember which people and companies treated us well when we were kids.

What I find disappointing about these comparisons between the new MLS Clubs banking partners in particular is the missed opportunities. We all need a bank. Make us want to come and choose you ffs.

I know it looks like we’re singling out BMO here, but that’s for a like for like comparison. Looking at other, less essential items than a bank account, things don’t get a whole lot better with the other Caps sponsors.

Take a look at these giveaway theme nights in Portland this season.

We’ve covered before about the lack of “we win, you win” promotions in Vancouver – would have saved the sponsors a fortune this year mind you!

Take a look at how Seattle’s and Portland’s sponsors promotions blow the Whitecaps corporate sponsors out of the water.

Even Chivas gave us the chance to get half a dozen free glazed doughnuts if they’d beaten us when we were down at the Home Depot Center.

To quote my favourite all time band, The Buzzcocks…

“What do I get? No love.
What do I get? No sleep at nights.
What do I get? Nothing that’s nice.
What do I get? Nothing at all.
At all, at all, at all, at all, at all, at all.”

Sponsors get involved with football clubs for a multitude of reasons. Some, if not all, hope to get some return for their money by increasing business from the team’s fanbase.

I’ve regularly given my business to companies involved with the football teams I support.

I haven’t with the Whitecaps sponsors so far though.

In fact, until I see us fans getting a little from them first, as fans of other MLS clubs get on a regular basis, then I’m more inclined to go out of my way not to use them.

Hopefully we can put the absence of decent deals for Whitecaps fans down to first MLS season teething problems. After all, that’s been the blame dog for so many other letdowns.

Next season, let’s hope that the Whitecaps and their sponsors raise the bar, and give us something comparative to what our Cascadian cousins are currently getting.

We’ve given a lot of our time and money this season, cheering on our team home and away. We don’t do it to get something back in return and the payback works both ways. A little recognition and reward goes a long way Caps sponsors.

I, and many others, are waiting to give you our business.

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There are 3 comments for this article
  1. Anonymous at 02:35

    Great article. Have you thought about getting a job in the marketing dept of the FO.

  2. Pej at 14:29

    Yup. I expected much more from the Bell partnership as well. Like you say, most people have cell phones, why not give me an incentive to become your client?

    This kind of promotional/marketing thinking builds long-term fans and clients. And we've come to learn that although the Whitecaps talk the talk in regards to long-term growth and prosperity, they have seldom walked the walk.

  3. HaakonMurphy at 17:42

    The good: Bell Headphones that are decent enough to use at work when I need to drown out noise.
    The bad: Just about everything else, all the swag is limited to only the “first” so many fans.
    The Ugly: Kia wristbands. That should be illegal.

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