The Irony of it All

In today’s Chicago Tribune, media columnist Phil Rosenthal writes of the Bears launching a media campaign this weekend they’re calling “One City, One Team.” As the article states, the Bears have rarely felt the need to spend money on advertising in a city they dominate. I remember them doing so in 2000-2001 with a similar theme “110% Chicago,” and according to the article their last ad campaign was in 2002 during their year in Champaign. “You had to be there” was the theme that I’m seeing on my 2002 game broadcasts, which I just converted to DVD.

Rosenthal asks the obvious question in the article, why do this when there is no problem with the Bears selling tickets? “Obviously, there are a lot of people out there sending out messages about the Bears that we have no control over,” said Bears PR man Scott Hagel. “So we wanted to make sure we were part of that conversation as well,” he said.

Hagel also emphasizes what a strong team the Bears have and cites the fact that the Bears have reached the playoffs in “2 of the last 3 seasons.” That’s very true, but those of us with a brain do realize that those years were 2005-2006 and the team was most definitely on the upswing. The third of the years Hagel mentions was 2007, which was a very low year, and there is nothing to make an educated fan think the playoffs are in reach in 2008.

David Stevenson of advertising agency Two by Four also chimed in, saying “you’ve got to get the Web community, the bloggers, to have an opinion, and to comment.”

Thanks David, here we go.

It’s funny to me to see the stalwarts of “old” business and media finally wake up to the changes the Internet and bloggers have created. Heck, it’s funny to see people acknowledge our existence. And to see a Bears executive acknowledge that web denizen’s opinions have an effect on the perception of their organization is frankly shocking.

So back to the new ad campaign. Of course I haven’t seen it, according to the article it is set to be launched during this weekend’s preseason telecast, but according to the article the theme is to celebrate the “average fan” and his or her devotion to the Bears.

As a Bears fan, the ads look cool, and to me it does make me feel proud of my loyalty to the Bears, which according to the article was one of the objectives of the campaign.

When I started my website, which is getting close to being 10 years ago, I was in my late 20′s, childless, with much more time and many fewer worries, allowing me to focus more on my love for this team. Nearing my late 30′s now with the concerns of a breadwinner and all that will be coming along in life the next 15-20 years gives me a different perspective.

When others used to complain of the rising costs of going to professional sports games and the perception that the average fan is getting shut out of the game day experience that is increasingly catering to the corporate executive set, I used to be dismissive. My attitude was “if you’re fortunate enough to be a season ticket holder, which is your choice, if you don’t like the rising costs, then get out.” And I still believe that’s true to an extent.

But I can much more easily see those people’s perspective at this point. I have no problem having an opinion that others reject and criticize me for; everyone is entitled to their opinion. I was roundly ripped on a message board following the 2007 season for finally stating that my ticket price increases are starting to offend me, but I stand by what I said.

What I said was, I have the cheapest tickets in Soldier Field. My ticket prices have now been raised four of the last five years. In 2001, the last year of the old Soldier Field, my seats were $45 per game. When the new facility opened they jumped to $50, and I didn’t have a problem with that. Since then, the prices have gone from $50 to $55, then $60, then $65, and now they were raised to $68 per seat for the 2008 season. My point was, while I know as a fortunate ticket holder I need to bear the burden of these increases and not complain about it, there have been 4 ticket increases in 5 years. Some of the increases have been for as much as 5%. In my career, a 5% salary increase in a year is virtually unheard of, and it makes it tough on the guy that wants to take his son to games as his father did for him.

Very interesting, I didn’t have any moral problem with coming up with the funds for 2 PSL’s in the new stadium. (Financially, that’s another story). While others pointed out to me how supremely ridiculous it is for average fans such as me to help the McCaskey family finance a new stadium, a facility with the ultimate goal of further enriching the McCaskey family, I didn’t bat an eye. Now I have a little better perspective on this, as I do on a lot of things after 6+ years of my 30′s have passed by.

So, bottom line on my opinion on the Bears’ new ad campaign? Nice, but kind of ironic that they’re celebrating the average fans’ loyalty to the organization when indeed, it is getting harder and harder for the average fan to consume their product.

I admitted after the first preseason game that I was impressed with the level of security and the courtesy I was shown by most of the gameday staff on hand. But raising ticket prices in 4 of 5 seasons for the cheapest seats in the house clearly doesn’t help the Bears organization “reach” me.

Not that I think they care. But it’s my opinion.

4 Responses to “The Irony of it All”

  1. Funny, down here in Tampa, the Rays slogan is “We are. One Team”. Very similar.

    Unfortunately the NFL is just too darn popular, and the ticket prices will rise every year until fans stop going. I think that’s starting to happen down here in Tampa, but time will tell. I’m happy with going to 1 game/year and watching the rest from my couch with $1 beers (for the good stuff) and never a line to use the restroom.

  2. I hear that, Perno. I always find it hilarious that I’ll debate whether to spend $8-9 on a six pack of really good beer. Then I remember ONE BEER COSTS SEVEN BUCKS AT THE GAME!

  3. Yes, a few games a year are fun, but beer prices suck. Stay at home for most of the games. Plus, if your girlfriend kicks as much ass as mine you might be able to talk her into doing “favors” for you either during the game, or at half time, beating the hell out of actually going to the game. My opinion, wait until halftime. One is always too distracting during the other.

  4. And by “favors” I mean giving back massages and making sandwiches. Keep it G-rated. …for the kids.

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