Marketing to Adults: The Revs’ New Direction


From the outset, MLS has faced something of an identity crisis.  Who was the target audience?  Men? Women? Familes? Hispanics? soccer fans? sports fans?  Both the League and various teams have targeted different groups with varying levels of success.  Like all marketing, imitation is king, and right now, “hardcore” fan is sitting on the throne.

Envious of the fans in Toronto, DC and more recently, the Nordecke in Columbus, teams have been searching for ways to bring spirited supporters to their events in larger numbers.  Typically young and usually male, teams are counting on these fans to bring atmosphere and passion to their stadiums.  While most teams have long had dedicated supporters’ sections with small bands of dedicated souls (like The Fort in New England or Section 8 in Chicago), there has been a definite shift towards increasing attendance among the younger, louder demographic.

Nowhere is this more clear than in New England, long considered a stronghold of the “soccer mom” set.  Becuase of Gillette Stadium’s size and the Revs’ apparent focus on selling to club teams, familes and “Beckhamites”,  the Revs have long suffered from poor atmosphere and ongoing clashes between the team and its hardcore supporters.  Two recent initiatives seem intended to  alter that reality.

The Revs’ new “Defend the Fort” initiative is offering $200 season tickets (for 20 games) in the supporters’ section behind the goal.  According to Revolution, COO Brian Biello, the campaign is intended “to create an authentic soccer atmosphere at Gillette Stadium.”  The intiative will also include social networking opportunities and events at bars around Boston.

The Revs also announced the organization of the inaugural “Revs Girls” squad, a new promotional group intended to make appearances on behalf of the team.  Notably, the interview requirements include a head shot, body shot and “form fitting clothing.”  I don’t think the target demographic is in question here.  There is no suggestion that the Revs Girls will be a cheer squad or dance team.  In a quote pulled by the Boston Herald, Mr. Biello stated that, “the girls will distribute posters and special offers to come to games.”  Apparently the Revs Girls will visit area pubs showing English Soccer as a way to entice soccer fans to give the Revs a try.

I’ll all for efforts to increase attendance, and as I have posted on many occassions, there is enormous soccer loving population in the U.S. that has not yet fallen for MLS. However,  I question whether passing out fliers to pub dwellers at 10:00 a.m. on Sundays will drive traffic to Foxboro (perhaps the Revs Girls should be visiting 20 something bars at night).  That said, I think the “Defend the Fort” initiative is a great idea.  As Columbus has shown with the Nordecke, the creation of a loud, large and passionate area of the stadium can alter the atmosphere throughout the complex.   The Revs are on the right track.

8 Responses

  1. The Revs should try some field-level tents and seats to interest the indifferent soccer fan. It strikes me that MLS needs to focus on all types of fans to fill up a stadium.

  2. The Revs do offer the “Presidents Club” field level seats (essentially these seats are where the opposing team would stand at a Patriots game). For what they are, they are incredibly well priced. Any tents would have to be behind the goals.

  3. Great post. It’s been long overdue that the Revs put this kind of effort into both picking the right target audience and for improving the in-stadium atmosphere at the games. There is even a rumor of a beer garden being established in the area above the endzone section where The Fort occupies. Hoping this marketing strategy works because the most consistent Boston playoff team of this decade should be more than capable of drawing 20k fans (free parking to boot) on average in the most sports-mad city in the nation.

  4. I like the idea of a beer garden…Toronto has something similar. The Revs should have more fans, but they have made some serious mis-steps along the way.

  5. all i can say is “it’s about time”. it’s all well and good to try and get the families in, but building a steady following of fans is the route to go. families will still come to the games, because let’s face it, the kids love the game but love the antics of the Fort as well (even if it is “small time” compared to other clubs). attract the age group that will come to every game for years to come. making the Fort more popular is a great idea, but they need to get security in line w/it and understand what happens at soccer games. security has gone overboard on several occasions with the Fort already. Imagine a beer garden up top and more people in the Fort. Not a good combination unless security starts to work WITH the Fort, instead of AGAINST it.

  6. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, the product (soccer), is not in the right environment to succeed. As they say in the real-estate, Location, Location, Location.

    Take the Red Bulls. They never really were successfully playing at the Meadowlands. The tried very hard with various promotions and involving the local soccer clubs. It just didn’t pack the stadium, 7,000 to 9000 fans just doesn’t cut it in a stadium that seats 70,000 fans.

    However, next year, the Red Bulls move to Harrison New Jersey. Their 25,000 seat stadium looks great. Perhaps a combination of a more intimate environment, coupled with a town that has a great history of soccer might just work. New York City is minutes away by train. The path station is right there and 800,000 people travel through this area via the Northeast corridor trains. If a MLS team can’t make it at this location, well… Let’s just see what happens…

  7. […] Revs have continued their efforts to market their “Defend the Fort” initiative by creating a website dedicated to the campaign. The site includes a fairly […]

  8. yes the security remains mostly just people looking to make some money aside from the nfl. they dont understand the game to say nothing of the explosive emotion of its culture. more revs girls. there sweet and i want to be there daddy.

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