04 March 2008

Our House, in the Middle of DC

Let's shift to a quick marketing discussion. The new "WELCOME TO OUR HOUSE" banner (shown below) for D.C. United. As a marketing tactic, what's your verdict?

Now, I loved, absolutely loved, the "TRADITION" campaign. So it's likely that most things after that are going to be a bit of a come-down. I mean, part of what I liked was the almost anti-marketing feel of that banner. It said "Look, we don't need corporate graphics, or focus-group tested phrases, or phones ringing at 3 A.M. (uh-huh, uh-huh, KLF is gonna rock you!), or any of that, what we have is a simply shot of our trophy cabinet, and tells the story you need to know." That was powerful.

Now, "WELCOME TO OUR HOUSE" is fine, acceptable, and decent enough. It's not bad. But I do have some quibbles, which I list here in increasing order of importance.

THE "YOUR COACH IS FAT" QUIBBLE: It does seem a bit familiar, almost like the Under Armour "We must protect this house!" line. Which is okay, given that Under Armour is at least a local company. Baltimore is still United's market, even with Philly entering the league. But it also just seems a bit, well, derivative. And Tom Soehn and Ralph Friedgen are different people. So it seems a bit played out.

THE "YOUR HOUSE IS CONDEMNED" QUIBBLE: What's interesting is if you want to overread the slogan. Apparently we're making a big deal that our house is RFK. And RFK is not where I want to live. Yes, I'd prefer a stadium in PG County over staying at RFK, even though the trip would be two or three times longer for me to make. Because that would truly be our house. Our House isn't Ours, it is DCSEC's. And I'm not happy with staying in our house.

THE "EMPHASIZE THE POSITIVE" QUIBBLE: My last issue is that United has seen some major changes over the off-season, and most are designed to make this team better. Given that United has adopted the MLS practice of including player images, I think it would be nice to emphasize what makes this team different. A series of comparative adjectives with a player photo would make the point. "STRONGER" with an image of Perralta. "FASTER" with an image of Gallardo. Heck, even steal that Daft Punk song that Kanye's sampling, the one that sounds like intelligent androids decided to invent jazz fusion based on first principles. There's two more adjectives right there. "HARDER" with an image of Jaime, or Emilio. See, this works. "Welcome to Our House" makes it seem like we've got nothing except home-field to talk about, and we actually have so much more.

So, it's not that I dislike the campaign. I think it's a pretty decent one, it's just that I don't love it. Which is fine, I don't need to love everything, but it just seems like a missed opportunity to say so much more in a way that doesn't sound to my ear like marketing speak.

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At 04 March, 2008 09:10, Anonymous Bill Urban said...


Surrealist blogging this morning?

At 04 March, 2008 09:11, Blogger D said...

Bill: Every morning, my friend, every morning.


I hit the post button a bit too fast. The content should actually be there now.

At 04 March, 2008 09:46, Anonymous Eric in Baltimore said...

I think the slogan sucks. It's a played out sentiment, and the similarities to UnderArmor's unfortunate dabble in Fascism are obvious.

At 04 March, 2008 13:22, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To me, it seemed like a back-handed swipe at the Nationals. Which is odd, because, well. You know?

At 04 March, 2008 13:37, Blogger D said...

Anon: That never even occurred to me, but now that you say it, I see what you're saying. The idea that we have reclaimed RFK somehow. But, yeah, I'm sure the Nats are heartbroken they aren't sharing the field with United and have to settle for their own state-of-the-art publicly financed stadium. I bet Stan Kasten wakes up crying at night.

At 04 March, 2008 14:04, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could see this being a campaign that focuses on the fans -- but it doesn't seem like that's where they're taking it.

Apparently we're making a big deal that our house is RFK. And RFK is not where I want to live.

Yeah, wouldn't "Welcome to our apartment" be more appropriate?

- rke

At 04 March, 2008 16:52, Blogger Catherine-Lucia said...

It's good until we remember what "our house" is. If it was angled more toward the whole team pride, we stick together, viva united, we rule, blackout kind of thing (rather than RFK) then it would work. You know. The home is the heart of the fans not the stadium. That would work. So, it's good in theory but sort of dumb.

At 04 March, 2008 19:28, Blogger Shatz... said...

About RFK- I thought the same exact thing when I heard the slogan. "This is our house" would be a great slogan for a team like Toronto, who actually have their own "house", but don't have a lot more than that. Or maybe DCU Marketing could have saved this slogan for the first year that we start playing in our SSS.

But hell... We've got trophies, do we really need a slogan?

At 04 March, 2008 20:06, Blogger Catherine-Lucia said...

Shatz--what's SSS?

Supa-Sweet Stadium? LOL...

Soccer-specific stadium? that sounds more realistic...


At 05 March, 2008 07:47, Anonymous Goose said...

Yep, SSS=Soccer-Specific Stadium

At 05 March, 2008 10:39, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps reading a bit too much into folks.

An optimsit might look at the "Our House" campaign through the prism of the "Tradition" campaign.

Like it or note, DCU's tradition is solely rooted in RFK - so be careful not to celebrate DCU's "tradition" without giving a nod to the "house" in which the tradition was experienced.

Finally (also a shameless ploy a being optimistic), perhaps we can look at this "Our House" campaign as a cathartic moment. Well after we are settled into a SSS on the banks of the Anacostia River, we can look back fondly at the early years at RFK - DCU's old "House".

At 05 March, 2008 15:37, Blogger D said...

Anon: Reading too much into things is what this blog is all about. If I couldn't over-read, occasionally to the points of absurdity, I would have to return my credentials

That being said, I agree with a lot of people here. Yes, some of our great moments are bound up with RFK, but far more of them are not. 1996 MLS Cup, 2004 MLS Cup, 1999 MLS cup, Interamerican Cup... all of these things were not tied into RFK. And the greater thing is that "This is Our House" underwhelms slightly... we're so much more than our house, even granting an expansive meaning to the idea of "House."

I am so pretentious it hurts somedays.


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