|Chicago Fire players pose in their new Quaker Oats sponsored jerseys. (Photo Credit: Chicago Fire)|
Last week we posted the news and a snazzy video announcing that the Chicago Fire had landed a new jersey sponsor, Quaker Oats, after an empty-chested 2011. Given that several Major League Soccer clubs do not have shirt sponsors (by choice or otherwise), these news releases are always a sign of forward progress for American soccer.
The injection of cash for the club, advertising partners, and marketing initiatives that accompany these sponsorship deals help propel each team, hopefully, deeper into their local market. Many of these sponsorships are with local companies with large reaches like New England's United HealthCare, Houston's GreenStar Recycling. Seattle's XBox, or Toronto's BMO.
The new Chicago Fire deal follows this strategy of local corporate roots springing outward. Founded in 1877 its headquarters are still in Chicago.
Yesterday the Fire players walked out their new 2012 jerseys that followed your run-of-the-mill unveiling, but it was the behind-the-scene marketing of the Fire that really brought the whole announcement home.
The day before the announcement a package arrived at FBM HQ. "Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Ill." said the return label.
Open the box up and inside is a Quaker Oats can. Not dissimilar to the one that graces the kitchen counter already. This one, however, was cleverly labeled with several distinct Chicago Fire markings; the club crest and the new jersey. Slapping a marketing partner's logos on your stuff is a pretty basic outreach attempt so this was nothing to get too excited about.
But it was the attention to detail on the entire can that was a step above. The back of the can took the time to fully explain the fullness of the partnership between the Chicago Fire and Quaker. From jersey design, to community support, to stadium initiatives the depth of this sponsorship was well apparent; even down to the "ingredients" and "nourishment fact".
Inside the can were a few Quaker products (enjoyed the granola bar with Nick Jonas on it...) tucked in with the Fire's press release.
You could already chalk all this as a successful effort. More than superficial cross-branding, a deep commitment from a local company, and a creative approach to spread the news of this jersey/sponsorship.
But they had to go and tuck a jersey in the can well. Now its just getting absurd... in the best kind of way.
Us writers love free shit. Stuffed in with the oatmeal is THE shirt that the Fire will debut for the 2012.
A very nice touch, indeed.
Wait... what? What's on the back?
Chicago Fire marketing. FTW.
Free stuff aside this was a fantastic marketing effort the Chicago Fire put together. If they really wanted to take this to the next level they'd expand this cross-branding effort beyond just members of the media.
Putting jerseys in the hands of paying fans is objective number one, but if each one purchased at the team store came in the can (perhaps with a few Quaker products thrown in as well) or at the very least given out at matches... then you've got something that fans have not only on their backs, but probably in their homes as well.
The idea and execution has been so top-notch you could see this working well with the general public. Fire fans would appreciate the extra approach without feeling like this was some "gimmicky" effort between the Fire and Quaker Oats.
A great marketing move with even greater potential for the larger Fire fan base.