This is a guest post by frequent writer & US Youth Soccer expert Nick Sindt.
For those fans who believe that MLS needs an injection of personality, here you go.
The Portland Timbers (yes the same ones whose fans brought tears to our eyes with their rendition of You Are My Sunshine) have just fired the first MLS “shot across the bow” to their long-time archenemy the Seattle Sounders.
On their facebook page is a picture of this billboard, which is brilliant not only because the new franchise is claiming to be Soccer City, a nickname The Don gave to Seattle last year, but this billboard is also located near Qwest field, in Seattle.
If you’re not a Sounders fan, nor have you turned into your grandparents yet, you can probably appreciate this prank.
It reminds me of being a scheming troublemaker in high school; you know the one where teachers outwardly discourage your shenanigans, but deep down they smirk and laugh with you.
This stunt also sets Portland up to be the lovable badboy franchise this league so desperately needs. Let’s look at some past attempts like this….crickets…oh yeah, DC United created that website about tradition and winning trophies prior to last year’s US Open Cup final against Seattle.
As far as smack-talking goes that was pretty lame version of the Scoreboard chant. This is on par with re-painting your rival’s field with your colors, abducting their mascot, or simply planting a flag in their backyard.
Some may say this is an immature high-school stunt, while I stand up and applaud the youthiness (I’m making up words today). As a fan of the game without a club to truly call my own, I will now pull for the Timbers when facing their neighbors to the north, and definitely will be tuning into those matches.
How will Seattle respond? Will they?
TSG “The Business Of Soccer” Take:
Solid move here by the Timbers.
A common axiom in marketing is “you make your brand stronger by partnering or calling out a stronger brand” and being used in association with it.
Two examples here: Starbucks coffee got their start by parttnering American Airlines (a higher rated airline at the time) and suggesting that their coffee was “business-class worthy.”
More recently and in soccer, Manchester City tried this tact with the infamous Carlos Tevez billboard in Manchester.
By calling out Seattle–and hoping that Seattle responds–the Timbers would be effectively using Seattle’s marketing dollars and clout to build their brand. A bigger marketing budget for sure.
Same question is asked here, how will Seattle respond? Will they?