This opinion piece originally appeared on The Yorkies on August 27, 2013
Sometimes I wish I could get the PA announcer at the stadium a mute button. Perhaps I am in the minority, but this season, more so than before, I feel way too marketed to when attending a match. Every message is delivered like it is of utmost importance when it is just drivel. There is very little news that comes out of the tannoy during any match. Percentage-wise, it cannot be higher than 20%. It’s terrible. It’s noise pollution.
I’m not sure if anyone else is aware of it’s existence, but there is a group that is calling itself the Toronto FC Fan Council and on a once-per-month basis (or there abouts) I receive an email requesting my time to fill out a survey. This month’s survey arrived last Thursday and the preamble read as follows:
As a member of Toronto FC Council, we want your feedback on everything related to Toronto FC. This month, we are asking you all about Toronto FC’s marketing partners.
With the faintest of hopes, I thought that this would be the opportunity to provide feedback about how this club is marketing itself and its over-exposed “partners”.
What I was actually subjected to was a 15 minute reinforcement of what I despise the most. Paraphrasing, the questions were postulating “which of these partners can you name which are part of the game day experience”, and “which of these brands do you feel you are most knowledgeable”, and “can you identify which partners…”
I accept that Toronto Football Club is merely a brand that is designed to make money by providing the service of entertainment, which I pay them so that I may watch the entertainment in person. I accept that the sporting aspect of this “club” is, at the very least, secondary, as evidenced by every property its parent organization, MLSE, touches. Their marketing genius is displayed in their efforts to have all of their fans believe that the on-field/ice/court success is the primary focus, when their bottom line indicates otherwise. (I don’t doubt for a second that this marketing strategy isn’t unique to Toronto, but nobody does it better)
I also accept that my desire for footy to be as successful as hockey (or a fraction of), I must do my part. Providing feedback, to a voluntary survey group, felt like one of those things one must do. However, that they would ask their fans how successful their advertising campaigns are, indirectly to that same audience, insults my intelligence.
At the end of the survey, a little box asking for feedback is available. Here is a snippet of the six paragraphs submitted:
The supporters, a.k.a. customers, are over-marketed to. Here’s the thing: I don’t support the sponsors. Some because I am not a fan of their product, some by design. I take my money and spend it before I get to the ground and I tend to avoid many of the sponsors listed because they, as well as the advertising people, have been ruining my game-day experience.
Aside from goals, subs, and cards, name a single part of the game that ISN’T “brought to us by” something?
If the nearly complete saturation of sight and sound isn’t at the threshold of decency, I get the ‘convenience’ of being overcharged at the concession stand. Why would I want to give Coke, or TFC, $3.75 for, at most, is a $1.50-valued soft drink because “that’s what the market will bear”?!?! Why would I want to eat a pizza that reminds me of its existence all too often in the 2+ hours I spend at the stadium? Or, mass produced beer brand trying to tell me that their beverage is worth around $12 for a can?
Are you gauging any of this? The email was entitled “Share your feedback on TFC’s partners”. THIS BOX IS THE ONLY PLACE I ACTUALLY GET TO GIVE FEEDBACK. NOTHING IN THAT SURVEY RELATED TO THIS CLUB OR ITS FANS. IT TRIED TO GLOSS OVER THE NOISE POLLUTION OF ADVERTISEMENTS AS PART OF THE “GAME DAY EXPERIENCE”, WHICH IS ASSUMED AS ACCEPTED. DID ANYONE ACTUALLY THINK THIS THROUGH?
This entire exercise has allowed me to draw this conclusion: stripped down, customers who care about this team are seen and used as nothing more than people with too much disposable income that can be fooled to endure excessive amounts of promotion. The end game is to get those same customers to part with more of their disposable income than what is fair and convinced that this practice is perfectly acceptable regardless of the quality of the product.