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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

EDITORIAL : Toronto FC Fan Council : Fill out this survey to better saturate you with advertisements!



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:

Dear "council", 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.


@ignirtoq hasn’t been supporting the sponsors of Toronto FC for quite some time as it makes no difference.  He drives a Jeep, prefers Pepsi “throwback” (when available), uses Telus, owns a Canon camera, prefers his local pizzeria Mickey’s, drinks Patron tequila and Somersby cider, owns an XBOX 360, lives in an apartment so lawn care and home improvements don’t affect him, banks somewhere else and would prefer to refer to the home ground as “New Fort York” due to the proximity of the old one.

8 comments:

  1. clap, clap, clap.

    agree 100%. Not a game that goes by that I don't kick myself for getting hooked on it from the odd game I went to back in 2007, back when they trumpeted their 'authentic football experience' and wisely more or less sat back and let the supporters provide it.

    exploitation and confrontation off the pitch and ineptness on it killed that off, and now they're trying to replace those lost customers, desperately running in the exact opposite direction, going for an authentic north american experience, when it was the low key-ness (not absence, it was definitely still there, but much more tolerable) of all that crap that made it so refreshing and really contributed to their initial success.

    They are cheerleaders and/or goal music away from me seriously seriously questioning whether I want to keep going to games.

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  2. Excellent stuff.

    I noticed this email over the weekend and thought I'd have a chance to echo some of the thoughts you posted above.

    When it was clear that they were just mining for stats about brand awareness I lost it and left quite the angry response in the comments box at the end.

    I doubt I am not the only one to this and I doubt MLSE takes any notice of it either.

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  3. Wow what happened to "the best fans in the league"? All I see on this site and other TFC sites are complaints about the gameday experience.

    Is it really that bad? I know bad - Revs season ticket holder since 02 but everyone up there just sounds miserable all the time.

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    Replies
    1. That's because they've had a greedy corporation grind the fun out of their lives now since 2007. At least the Revs had a competitive club for the first half of the 2000s (heck up until two years ago they were a top of the east team). TFC has been a Clown College run by goofballs in suits since its inception.

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    2. This year's circus has been much different than previous versions, I can attest to.

      Instead of driving away talent and keeping crap, this year we can't seem to keep anyone healthy for an elongated period of time.

      The Urruti saga is just that... a saga. In sports parlance, if one club talks about a player for 3 weeks, it's too long. His name came up in March? April? Borderline farcical.

      To be fair, the football has dramatically improved. Last season, it would be 85 minutes of frustrating back-passes and an inability to do meaningful stuff in the final third. This season, there's some creativity in the midfield, a whole lot more control, but no finishing.

      To be fair, the "best fans in the league" was a title bestowed upon us when there wasn't much going on. Now that everyone new (save Philly to a slight degree) dwarfs us in all conceivable ways, all we can do is look at the office monkeys calling the shots and scream in frustration "Why?! C'mon..."

      Tis the life of a Toronto sports fan. :)

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    3. You've put some good insight into this season, as there is actually some more excitement on the pitch. Last season's memories are still particularly painful, especially near the end of the season when the fans were openly booing TFC.

      However, the corporatization of the game experience is particularly unnerving. I don't really care to watch commercials on the screen before the game and at half. The Budweiser fiasco has really irked a lot of people. I guess drinking Carlsberg offered some sort of pseudo-European feel. Anyone remember when you could get a Can of Tetley's and a chip butty?

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