Marketing in Philly: An Interview with Union VP of Marketing Cara Joftis

We are now about two months away from the Philadelphia Union’s primetime opener on ESPN2 against Seattle.  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. We thought we would start 2010 with the Philadelphia Union.

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.

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61 Responses

  1. […] January 22, 2010 K.M. Morris Leave a comment Go to comments The excellent footiebusiness blog provides us with an interview of Cara Joftis, the Union’s VP of marketing. FB: Philadelphia is a sports mad city with strong passions for […]

  2. Can’t wait to see if they follow in the footsteps of Toronto and Seattle. While 80% is a high percentage, it means nothing until we see the actual numbers. 80% of a small number of people buying tickets is not good. 80% of a large number of people buying tickets is good. But, I’m hopeful that they will be a success. If they pull it through in this economy, the future is bright in Philly.

  3. what is the DMA?

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  11. […] 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 […]

  12. […] 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 […]

  13. […] 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 […]

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