We are now just days away from the Philadelphia Union’s home opener, so we thought it a good time to revisit our interview with Philadelphia Union Marketing VP Cara Joftis. With a new stadium on the way and an excited base of fans, Philly is set to become American soccer’s latest success story. As we did last year, we hope to bring you a series of interviews with MLS marketing professionals to provide insight into how teams seek to promote their brand. Below is our January interview with Ms. Joftis
Cara Joftis has been the VP of Marketing for the Union since September, 2009. Prior to joining the club, she was Vice President of Sponsorships and Brand Promotions at Citizens Bank for more than six years. She managed brand presence and messaging for Citizens Bank properties in 13 states, including Citizens Bank Park. Thanks for Ms. Joftis for taking a few minutes to discuss the Union’s efforts to market the team in a tough economic climate in a city full of competition for attention from fans and media.
Footiebusiness.com The Union is starting play in a fairly rough economic climate. What impact does the economy have on the message of your marketing campaign? Do you have to tailor your methods of marketing because of the economy?
Cara Joftis: We try to be aware of all issues facing our fans. We haven’t had to adjust our marketing campaign at all. Our tickets are the most economically priced out of the Philadelphia major league sports teams. Our marketing methods remain the same, with a focus on the passion of the game and of our fans.
FB: The Union are moving into a brand new facility during the season. Yet the team is starting the season at the Linc. How does the team balance efforts to market the new stadium with the reality that the team will play a number of games elsewhere?
CJ: There really hasn’t been a need for any balance. Again, the focus is on the passion of the game and the fans and that is relevant in either of the buildings.
FB: How does the Union plan to utilize online avenues such as social networking sites, SUM’s online ad network, etc… to market the team? What is the goal of such online marketing efforts?
CJ: Online marketing efforts have the same goals as our traditional marketing – drive awareness and ticket purchases. Facebook and Twitter are important communication channels for us in interacting with our fans.
FB: Philadelphia is a sports mad city with strong passions for teams that have been passed down through generations. What can the Union do to penetrate those mainstream sports fans? Should that be a goal of marketing efforts? Is it important to gain exposure on mainstream sports outlets like WIP?
CJ: A recent Wharton study showed that approximately 1.5million people in Philadelphia DMA identify themselves as avid soccer fans. There is an extremely strong fan base for soccer. We talk to those people and do not go after people who are not interested in soccer. Approximately 80% of our founding members do not have season tickets to any other professional sports team in town.
FB: What lessons can the Union take from the marketing success of Seattle and Toronto? Similarly, what lessons can the Union take from some of the marketing mis-steps of the early years in the League?
CJ: Seattle and Toronto have done a terrific job of staying true to the sport and authentic to their fans. That is definitely something that we also strive for.
Thanks again to Ms. Joftis for responding to our questions.