MLS grows the quickest when the marketing is authentic. What do I mean by authentic? Authentic means that it is from that place. The Portland Timbers do an excellent job of local authenticity with their log and chainsaw. That is a unique tradition that you won't find anywhere else.
Tex Hooper branding leather is a step in the right direction, even if I do think it's ironic that a bull is branding cowhide. We once suggested that giant gushers of oil shoot off after a goal, which is hilarious but implausible. But I would like to see a bigger nod to Texas and Dallas. I love the BBQ plate at concessions and singing "Deep in the Heart of Texas." We have the colors of Texas, so we should take advantage as much as possible. My Texan wife loves her "Pride of Texas" scarf. I'd like to go a step further and see the Texas flag incorporated into the jersey, like the Colorado flag in the Rapids' away jersey. Let's make the in-game experience reflect the pride we have in our city and state. Let's show that soccer belongs in the Texan sporting landscape.
Authentic also means that it originated with the fans. Ever since I found out that the drum line is paid by the Front Office, I can't stand it. I'd rather see the Front Office subsidize tifo creation by the supporters' groups. There could be Tifo Parties where the broadcloth and paint were paid for by the Front Office. Helping to fuel organic initiatives like tifo creation would improve the stadium atmosphere while being authentic.
One of the greatest things about MLS is that fans and players are able to interact. Getting to know the players helps fans buy into the club. I like the fun videos of the players at halftime. I had a great time at Cocktails and Cleats recruiting Blas Perez to my foosball team and defeating Oscar Pareja and Dan Hunt! Tesho Akindele recognizes me and tweets back at me. Michel saw me on the sideline in Seattle and stopped to take a picture. Getting to know the players creates an emotional investment in the fans.
Something that blew my hair back in Seattle and LA happened during the player introductions. The PA announcer says the number and first name of the starting player and then the entire crowd yells out the last name in unison, like "Number 4, Omar..." "GONZALEZ!" We did it at the USMNT game in San Antonio and I know it's done plenty of other places as well.
This past season, there were fans sitting behind me in Toyota Stadium who thought Mauro Diaz was a new player. It's possible that they didn't see him in 2014 because he was injured frequently, but I was frustrated that they were uninformed about the players on the roster. Adding fan engagement into player introductions would help the fans learn more about the players and become more invested in the team.
I'd like to see the FO empower the supporters' groups to be as expressive as possible. Instead of squashing beer showers and ejecting enthusiastic fans, I would like to see signs at the top of the stairs that say "Splash Zone: You will get wet." Instead of denying access to the stage overhang, I'd like the FO to assist the Beer Guardians in rigging up massive tifos. Instead of the astroturf drumline, I'd encourage fans to bring their own drums and tubas to back grassroots musicians like El Matador's rhythm section and the brass band of the Lone Star Legion.
I've said it before - this should be a club for the fans. There should be as much fan input as possible in the club. I think it would bring smiles to many faces if the music played in the stadium came from fan suggestions. The PA announcer would include the name of the person who requested the song, like a radio DJ.
What if the team allowed the fans to pick the starting lineup for a game? The players would campaign for their spot in the lineup, endearing themselves to the fans. It doesn't have to be for a super important game; how about for an Open Cup game against a lower-division opponent?
Wi-Fi is also much needed so the fans in the stadium can easily interact with social media. Fan tweets and Instagrams should be displayed on the big screen during the game to encourage fan interaction! Tagboard shows off the energy of the students and the passion of the fans to create a feedback loop between the team and its supporters. I know that our buddy Daniel Robertson has been pushing for Tagboard and I certainly hope that the new south endline display will have that ability.
The Scarves and Posters of the Months are excellent ways to display FC Dallas fandom. To expand these programs, I think there should be a competition among fans to see who can collect them all. If someone is able to collect them all, they get a reward, like the Scarf or Poster of the Year. This would be tracked through the smartphone app and could be posted to social media to brag about how many you've collected. Nothing increases sales like a competition. Olivia Brestal does an excellent job with the artwork, but she could also recruit local artists to design some of the posters, like the LA Galaxy does.
What is authentic? It's local. It originates with the fans. I call on FC Dallas to support the passionate fans who spread the love of soccer and FC Dallas organically.