Anything the Jaguars do these days is sure to be met with the jabbering of the peanut gallery. Today, the franchise confirmed that they will be playing four “home” games in London during the 2013-2016 seasons. New owner Shad Khan has expressed his interest in pioneering new marketing strategies for the Jaguars and has already begun this venture by hiring Mark Lamping for the role of team president in an effort to grow the franchise’s regional brand throughout north Florida and south Georgia, due to his success in achieving a similar effort for the St. Louis Cardinals while serving as their team president for more than 13 years. Khan also expressed in his first public address as team owner his interest in building the Jaguars’ international brand by offering to play “home” games abroad and his press conference today confirmed that he and NFL Czar Roger Goodell have agreed to do so. Some people are intrigued, while some think this can only bring more harm than good. The truth is that this shrewd business decision is not a maneuver aimed at the short-term, but a low-risk, high-upside gamble that seeks to parlay the Jaguars clandestine momentum of the last few years into an explosive worldwide coming out party that will cement our home in Jacksonville and force audiences domestic and abroad to rethink their perception of the Jaguars franchise.
You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. – John Lennon
Pretty bold words, you say. Well, it’s a bold plan by Mr. Khan – but one that will prove to be well-timed. A brand is little more than a business’ reputation. It is conceived in each individual during their first encounter with the business and is shaped by future interactions. Effective branding communicates value to the end user and fosters their respect. Brilliant branding evokes a deeply (positive) emotional response, even love. To most football fans in America, this is not a groundbreaking revelation. But the Jaguars have the unique opportunity to start fresh on foreign shores and become the “first love” of the many sports fans who are interested in the NFL and American football, but haven’t had the opportunity to immerse themselves in the idiosyncrasies of each team and the rivalries, reputations, and subplots that make following the league so rapturous to us “veterans”. And all of the baggage that Jaguars fans deal with day in and day out won’t clear customs as the team makes its way overseas in the 2013 season – and making a powerful first impression on a hungry and impressionable audience seeing the spectacle of NFL football in their backyard for the first time could very well make the Jags their new favorite team by default. You know what they say, everyone always remembers their first…
So we’ve got the market demand in a highly curious European audience. Not only that, the market is unsaturated – individuals are not yet aligned with another brand and are currently unbiased and apt to form their own opinions. And most importantly, we’ve got the opportunity to deliver and create multiple strong impressions with Khan’s four year commitment to playing in London. To you business majors out there, that’s a potent combination.
The question some are asking is “what if the Jaguars don’t deliver?”. What if we show up to London and suck it up and become no longer the laughing stock of ESPN, but the laughing stock of BBC Sports and ergo, concordantly, vis-a-vis THE ENTIRE WORLD?!?! This is the risk that Khan is taking, but there has never been a better time for the Jaguars to make this gamble. We are at the precipice of a very exciting time in franchise history. Those keeping close track of the team know that we are in year four of the Gene Smith era and have felt the subtle rise of positive momentum surrounding the franchise. At first, profound but certainly not flashy change – collecting “big men” and rebuilding the offensive and defensive lines, cutting the “fat” of old players and locker room cancers, overhauling the back end of the roster to give the team depth. Then more noticeable change – adding a franchise quarterback and accumulating offensive weapons. Then major change in leadership – a new owner with a track record of international business success and a new head coach with a consistent and workmanlike approach. Anyone who’s watched the two preseason games can see undeniable change and feel the Jaguars nearing a tipping point. There are never any guarantees in the NFL, but the Jaguars’ five year outlook has never looked better.
“Hmm…go on”, you say. (Hit “CONTINUE READING” below)