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. In 2010, on the eve of of the Union’s inaugural season, we interviewed Ms. Joftis about the upcoming Union season. You can find that interview here. Ms. Joftis was kind enough to answer a few more questions as Philly is preparing to host the MLS All-Star Game. Thanks to Ms. Joftis.
Footiebusiness.com: Two years ago, we discussed the Union’s ability to penetrate a crowded Philadelphia sports market. As the team enters its third season, do you feel that the team has become fully integrated into the City sports scene? What efforts are you making to to capture soccer fans who haven’t embraced MLS? What about non-soccer sports fans?
Cara Joftis: It is a continuing evolution and, the Union is definitely becoming more integrated into the City sports scene. You see more and more people wearing Union gear around the city and aware of what is going on with the team. We are part of the discussion in the general media and are automatically included in new sports venues, such as Xfinity Live (jersey and scarves on display with Flyer, Sixer, Eagles and Sixers memorabilia). Additionally, we’ve been embraced by the previously established teams with numerous co-promotional efforts.
Our strategy has remained the same in that we are an authentic soccer brand and focus all our efforts towards who we are and the core values of the Union brand. The more people experience that brand and our way of soccer, we find that we gain fans, but we aren’t out to convince people who aren’t and never will be soccer fans.
FB: Who is the Union’s target market? Has that target changed since the team started playing?
CJ: Our core fan and target market remains the same. We look to deepen and broaden the relationships.
FB: PPL Park will host the MLS All-Star Game in July. What can that event do to further raise the profile of the Union within the region? Will the team make a concerted effort to engage mainstream media (e.g. sports radio, local television, etc…) and encourage coverage of the event?
CJ: Philadelphia is commonly host to international events (NBA All Star game, Winter Classic, X Games) and those events naturally raise awareness of all teams in the market. We continually engage with mainstream media and this is just another discussion point.
CJ: As we knew they would be, Bimbo is a terrific partner, with a long history in soccer and values that match our own, making the partnership authentic and a natural extension. Bimbo’s reach into mass market through retail operations, helps to put the Union name and brand in front of increased numbers of people. Our continuous plan is to expand those opportunities.
CJ: We have a schedule of promotions throughout the season – awareness nights (Autism, Breast, Ovarian Cancer), Tickets for Troops, Hispanic Heritage. http://www.philadelphiaunion.com/theme-nights
We are always looking for ways to enhance the fan experience, but the truth is that our fans create the atmosphere at PPL Park and make it the electric place that it is, giving the team the best home field advantage anywhere.