The Vancouver Whitecaps will play their inaugural regular season match against expansion club Los Angeles Football Club Friday evening, at BC Place. To commemorate the event, the club’s marketing department has developed a ‘match’ scarf, which you can pickup, at the match, for a reported $30.
Unsurprising, the response from fans has been less than supportive.
what a terrible idea. They are the opposition. I DON'T cheer for them, why would I want their logo around my neck... Ever!??!— Paul Rogers (@progers50) April 12, 2018
no freaking way. Delete the tweet, burn the scarfs I thought we had got passed embarrassing ourselves this year...— Jonathan (@lojdvancouver) April 11, 2018
So who from the marketing team is getting fired for this?— Dustin (@DustinBroster) April 12, 2018
To the marketing department’s credit, they have responded to comments on Twitter, taking ownership of the idea to have the scarf, and even asked for feedback on how to make their merchandise better.
Not mandated by the league. It’s our initiative. A matchup scarf is a very common thing in soccer.— Mikkel Strøjer (@strojer) April 12, 2018
However, the issue is not necessarily with the scarf, but rather with the history of the Whitecaps marketing department of promoting the accolades of the opponent over the Whitecaps. Yes, you promote the visiting team, to some degree, to generate interest from the common fan, but many have taken issue with ignoring the strengths of the Whitecaps in the process. For example, when Atlanta FC came to Vancouver last season, it was promoted as ‘come see this high-flying offensive entertain and score goals’ instead of ‘come see the stout Whitecaps defense shut-down Atlanta’s high-flying offense’. While the end product is similar, the spin is different. To be fair though, this season, the marketing department has done a good job of promoting the Whitecaps home undefeated streak and stating that people should come see the streak continue.
The other issue appears to be the Whitecaps attempt to create something that simply does not exist. It was also noted that the practice of creating a ‘matchup scarf’ is not uncommon in soccer, as it is used regularly in Europe. However, one thing that you will notice is different with the below image is that it is a matchup scarf between Manchester City and Manchester United...not Vancouver and a brand new club, in another country, in a city with another established team.
As Shoe Thief notes, there is nothing special about LAFC that makes the scarf meaningful. If the Caps were to do something like this, it would make more sense to do it against a heated rival, for an important match; not just the newest team to join the league.
Typical Whitecaps. Can't promote our own team so they promote the visitors.— Shoe Thief (@StuckontheSofa) April 12, 2018
And they can't even do it with an established team like TFC or the Galaxy, etc. No, they need to do it with an Expansion Team! that still has only played a handful of games. pic.twitter.com/oKR7D5SXAA
After getting chastised on a regular basis last season for their dreadful social media marketing campaigns, I must say that the Whitecaps have been infinitely better this season. I really enjoyed their cute Pac-Man promotion.
What are your thoughts on the job the marketing department have done this season, compared to last? What about this idea of a matchup scarf? Do you like it for this match? If not for this match, for an important Cascadia or Canadian rivalry match (maybe that playoff match against San Jose?).
What would you like to see more of from the marketing department (as hopefully they will read this article).