Last year was a banner year for FC Dallas on the field. The team made it's first visit to the MLS promise land with a trip to the MLS Cup where they fell to the Colorado Rapids in overtime. The club also embarked on a 19-game unbeaten run and finished with the fewest losses in team history.
But off the field things were all that grand. Many people were quick to point out the attendance in Dallas being dreadful once again in 2010. The club finished 14th out of 16 teams with an average of just over 10,000 fans per game at Pizza Hut Park. Some blamed the distance of Frisco to Dallas (weak argument anymore in my opinion), others blamed the lack of marketing of the club in the area.
While the club did go out and actually put together a decent marketing campaign for the 2010 season, it never really caught on with fans in the area nor did it drive up ticket sales when the club was winning. Dallas is a town that loves their winners and they never got to see a truly successful club like FC Dallas last year.
The slogan "We are not spectators" never caught on with fans or people around the league. In fact it was mocked by many. I thought at the time it was a good start by the club who was going through a bit of a facelift in their front office. But at the time and throughout the season the campaign failed to stick the landing.
But the club now has a new campaign and there are already reports that season ticket sales are up in a big way as the club has brought in plenty of sales representatives to get more folks to Frisco in 2011.
The new campaign slogan is "Dallas 'Til I Die".
The minute I heard that this would be the slogan I thought the club finally hit it out of the park.
The club's marketing director Justin McCord said it was a bit of a no brainer to go with that as the slogan for the new season.
"I remember being on the flight to Toronto with the team for MLS Cup and having conversations with the idea of "Dallas 'Til I Die" being the message we carried for 2011. Then when we saw the close to 500 FCD fans chanting their hearts out and fighting so hard for the shield in that match, along with the blood and sweat that our club was leaving on the field. It became a no-brainer," said McCord.
"Dallas 'Til I Die" gives us the chance to communicate to our market the rich soccer history in North Texas. This team, this league and likely this sport would not be here if it weren't for Lamar Hunt. We have a direct line to the patriarch of the sport in the United States. When you look closely at some of the creative, you'll see a montage of images celebrating the history of Dallas soccer. Images from the Dallas Tornado, rookie pictures of Bobby Rhine or Oscar Pareja and celebratory moments like the 1997 US Open Cup Championship or the 2010 Western Conference Championship."
What strikes me about this new campaign is how simple it really is. Last year's campaign really didn't move fans in a positive way. The shift from last year to this year looks to be on the right track. Its more soccer focused, something I'm happy to see. It focuses in on players on the team like MVP David Ferreira, Brek Shea, team captain Daniel Hernandez, Kevin Hartman and home grown talent Ruben Luna.
I've harped a lot on how the club fails to market around Dallas with billboards and ads but a lot of that comes from their limited resources. Instead they are going more digital, which in this day and age its something you can't ignore. If they market this the right way online and through social media it won't matter how many bus ads or billboards they use in the Dallas area, folks will know about the club regardless.
FC Dallas is progressing as a whole from the top down mostly thanks to Doug Quinn. I've said before that Quinn's strategies as club CEO will really guide this club to where it needs to be. He knows the challenges the club has faced in recent years and is tackling each of them from the fan experience at the game to campaigns like this one to get more folks interested in the club.
The club is listening to fans for a change and I believe they will be better for it. Work still needs to be done but its possible we'll actually see Dallas creep out of the bottom of those attendance standings this year.
(Note this story also appears on WVHooligan.com)