Helping the Worst NFL Team Become a Success

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The Jacksonville Jaguars are consistently ranked toward the bottom on lists comparing National Football League franchises. Fans are finding it difficult to support a losing team that hasn’t been in the playoffs since 2007. It’s not easy trying to build morale when there’s also a lot of buzz that owner Shahid Khan is considering relocating the organization to London. If the franchise wants to be successful in this cut-throat industry, the perfect time to transition the Jaguars into a powerful squad deeply rooted in the Jacksonville community is now. This is a guide to rebrand the Jaguars for the upcoming 2015 season. It is a blueprint to offer guidance and will need to be adjusted to feedback.

Read the Brand Blueprint for the Jacksonville Jaguars

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The Rebranding of a Franchise: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, also known as the Bucs, became the twenty-seventh franchise in the National Football League in April 1976. The team got off to a rough start with the inability to pass the ball, play defense, and most importantly, put points on the scoreboard. They became the first team in NFL history to lose all fourteen regular season games, which caused many excited fans to immediately lose faith. The organization knew it had to make some adjustments or success was doomed. The franchise finally underwent transformations in 1995, 1997, and 2002. The most recent changes have been deemed a success, helping the franchise become one of the most profitable in the league. The job is not over quite yet; there is plenty to do as the brand is monitored and grows even larger.

Read more about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers branding strategy in this Case Study

Protecting Privacy

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Beware! Big Brother isn’t the only one watching your every keystroke or click. Brands are also closely monitoring your online activity, gathering more than enough information to target you in their next campaigns.

What type of information is being collected? What are companies doing with the information? Are they trustworthy? How is that information being protected?

The Pew Research Center released a new study Tuesday that found there is widespread concern about government and business surveillance:

91% of adults in the survey ‘agree’ or ‘strongly agree’ that consumers have lost control over how personal information is collected and used by companies.”

Ever Google your name? You probably wouldn’t consider yourself a celebrity, but you’ll still pop up in the results. One of the first links, Spokeo, will more than likely show your name, age, and where you live. That’s pretty scary!

CNN spoke to Don Jackson, a security researcher, in August 2012. He warned “data mining” can lead to hacking, identity theft, and stalking:

We have seen cases where just basic information, just very few pieces from social networks, can lead predators to potential victims, for example. That’s a common scenario, actually.”

Companies need to be transparent in their quest for information about consumers.

Facebook updated its privacy policy on Wednesday. The social Screen Shot 2014-11-15 at 10.31.14 AMmedia website also released an easy-to-read, interactive guide for users to learn what information is being gathered and how it is used and shared. It’s still pretty complicated to understand.

SnapChat, a popular photo-sharing app, is also taking steps to make users feel safe. CNN Money reports the company will:

Warn you if another app on your phone is saving your pictures. Snapchatters using third-party apps will be forced to change their password. If they refuse, their accounts will be locked.”

AT&T stopped using hidden “super cookies” on smart phones on Friday. USA Today reports the change came after consumer pressure.

Online tracking isn’t going to go away anytime soon. In fact, it will only become a bigger issue. There is no way the federal government can regulate because the problem is universal. Privacy really starts with the user, though. Only share information you don’t mind being blasted to the world. What if consumers got paid for their information? Would that make it more acceptable?

Branding: It’s All About Who Knows You

How many times have you heard the phrase, “It’s all about who you know?” Well, brands wanting to find success online are learning, “It’s all about who knows you.”

Companies are using tools like PeerIndex and Klout to reach powerful thought leaders who can help promote the brand.

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 11.27.10 AMA user registering for a Klout account will be asked to link their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google +, YouTube, Tumblr, and other social media accounts. The service generates a score from one to 100 based upon follower metrics, amplification, and popularity. For example, my Klout score is 53 and I’m influential in business, shopping, and Kentucky. Amazon has the highest influence with a score of 98.86.

Businesses pay to release “perks” (free services or products) to users based upon their scores, locations,and areas they influence. For example, I once received a $10 gift card to McDonald’s to try the McRib. In exchange for the free sandwich, the fast food restaurant encouraged me to share my thoughts on the meal with my social media community.

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 11.27.01 AMPeerIndex is similiar to Klout, but it’s mostly a pay-for service that doesn’t release free offers. My score is 33, however, it would only connect with my Twitter account. This service includes a little bit more data than Klout, like measurement of engagement, approximate reach, and quality of followers. PeerIndex says I’m influential in cell phones, government, and mobile. The website also shows my best posts, the accounts I’m influenced by, and the users I’m influencing.

Segmentation tools like these two services are valuable to use, but brands shouldn’t completely rely on them. Although both websites say I’m influential in different areas, they are a great starting point to search for people generating conversations about a particular topic. As one blogger stated:

Klout needs to adjust their algorithm to differentiate between 50 and 100 Klout. My 53 is not exactly half of the Yankees’ 96. In fact, my 53 should be about .0001% of the Yankees’ influence.”

Sport brands can use PeerIndex and Klout to their advantage to directly communicate with powerful thought leaders. For example, teams could invite influential followers to a meeting where the organization will share that ticket prices will increase next season. The team would hope the folks with social media authority would be able to explain and convince the public that the increase is needed to recruit better players and make upgrades to the stadium. An organization could also send out hats or t-shirts with a new logo or catchphrase to influential people in the community to wear and encourage others to buy one. ESPN Magazine and Red Bull offer free publications to influential users in hopes they like the product and purchase a subscription at the end of the trial.

The ripple effect of online voices is strong. Klout says more than 200,000 businesses are using the website, giving out more than one million perks. Brands should monitor these services to connect with social media leaders to grow into a more powerful position in the marketplace.

Content: The Team’s Biggest Challenge

A nail-biting finish for the University of Tennessee against South Carolina on Saturday. The Vols beat the Gamecocks 45-42 in overtime, clinching their first SEC victory of the season. Although the game was difficult, the team’s biggest challenge happens every day off the field.

Organizations must find ways to keep fans engaged. When a team provides content, it generates attention and fan-interest.

A recent Forbes magazine article highlighted Heineken‘s effort to put an umpire chair in the middle of Union Square. The company had volunteers, wanting to win tickets to the U.S. Open, sit and try to quiet passersby.

Brands such as Heineken can no longer rely on just commissioning stale 30-second promotional ads. They have to stand out by producing memorable experiences—both online and offline—that generate emotional connections and help turn viewers into fans.”

Vettel_Bahrain_2010_(cropped)Red Bull is more than just an energy drink. The Austrian company invests a lot of money in extreme sports, like motocross, snowboarding, and cliff-diving. As one blogger wrote, establishing the brand in sport has been the key to success:

There was a clear niche that they could see in action sports that would tie in with their motto: “Red Bull gives you wings”. The real secret to their domination is that Red Bull haven’t just advertised in this market, they have become involved.”

The company sponsors several athletes and hosts multiple sporting events around the world each year. The brand is plastered everywhere: uniforms, equipment, naming rights, publications, pictures, videos, transportation, etc. Another blogger stated Red Bull is great at producing content because it owns and controls distribution channels:

Red Bull’s content success is largely due to staying ahead of the industry—where and how consumers are viewing content—keeping it relevant, and creatively blurring the lines between advertising and content.”

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 9.54.40 AMTennessee Athletics is great at sending out content via social media. When the team is preparing for its next game, pictures are posted on the @Vol_Football Instagram account counting down the number of hours until kickoff. At the end of each quarter, pictures with the score are posted. When it’s a player’s birthday, a picture of them is posted to recognize their special day.

The initiative is highly effective because even the casual fan feels connected and stays informed by simply following the team on social media. When they “Like,” “Retweet,” or “Share” a post, it shows up in their friends’ timeline and grows the audience.


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released a new advertisement over the summer, but it never aired on television. The video of Peyton and Eli Manning rapping about Fantasy Football is a viral hit with more than 3.8 million YouTube views. The brothers also did a video in 2013, which has 8.5 million views.

Brands need to continue to find innovative ways to create content that is eye-catching and entertaining. Earned media is more powerful and cheaper than paid media.

Content Pays Off

If a brand doesn’t have a strong presence on the web, it simply doesn’t exist. Whether it’s shopping, researching, or communicating, we’re obsessed with spending endless hours online.

Dancing_With_the_Stars_(2012)_-_Samba_performed_by_Rati_TsiteladzeHave you seen the end of a McDonald’s commercial? Not only does the fast food restaurant include a link to its website, but it displays icons informing consumers they can connect on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Have you watched “Dancing with the Stars” on ABC? #DWTS is in the upper right corner during the entire show. Viewers can also go online and get a behind-the-scenes look of the live event.

A well-developed online strategy is more successful than basic advertising because it generates content: articles, blogs, forum messages, videos, and social media posts. As Nick Burcher explained in “Paid, Owned, Earned:”

Search engines match users with specific information, and developing content in line with search behavior can deliver a ‘free’ audience, reducing the need to use paid media to create attention.”

When brands produce content, it increases the chances it is going to be seen by a wider audience. Burcher shared this excerpt from Malcolm Coles’ Online Journalism Blog:

If you want to do well in Google for relevant searches, publish early, publish often, and put your keywords at the front.”

The hit ABC show “Scandal” is a force to be reckon with on Thursday nights on Twitter. #Scandal is consistently one of the top DVD_cover,_Scandal_season_4,_September_2014trending topics, making the show one that no one wants to DVR. Adweek stated the premiere in September inspired 718,000 tweets that reached 4.16 million accounts. As the L.A. Times noted, the show is a new-media phenomenon:

Without Twitter to boost its profile and then its ratings, “Scandal” probably would have been canceled. Instead, it’s held up as an example of social media prowess by networks and branding experts of every stripe, and its success further stokes the belief that somehow Twitter can save us all.”

Look at what GQ Magazine is up to these days. The men’s fashion publication is making it easier for readers to “Get the GQ Look.” The editors select items from the pages each month and make them available on a special section of their website.


Don’t forget about Jimmy Fallon! The host of NBC’s Tonight Show is a content-sharing genius. He often encourages his celebrity guests to take part in entertaining skits, like a lip sync battle with Emma Stone. After the show, the segment is uploaded to YouTube. The video currently has more than 34.2 million views. These viral videos are helping Fallon boost his ratings each night for FREE.

In case you haven’t realized, content pays off. Earned media carries more power than any other format.

Tough Fight for Wheaties in Today’s World

Jack Armstrong, Michael Jordan, and Alex Rodriguez. Those three men are just some of the hundreds of athletes who have appeared on boxes of Wheaties since 1934.

The concept started when there were only a handful of breakfast items available to purchase, baseball was one of the only sports to watch, and very few companies believed in commercials.

General Mills took advantage of the marketplace by crafting the slogan “The Breakfast of Champions.” The brand associated itself with idolized athletes to sell aspirations.

The marketing plan worked because the brand had a captive audience with baseball games and broadcasts, people trusted the message that they too could perform well, consumers shared their love for the product through word-of-mouth communication, the packaging was easily recognizable, and some folks thought the products were collectibles.

As the cost of advertising increased and the market grew to include hundreds of cereals and the creation of granola bars, Wheaties dropped all sports sponsorships in the early 1950s. The brand realized it made a mistake quickly went back to athletics by 1958.

In a July 2014 article, the New York Times brought up a good point:

HOW do you sell a cereal known for decades as “The breakfast of champions” to younger consumers who may believe “champions” is a quaint word and may perceive breakfast as something from a food truck, washed down with an energy drink?”

The company isn’t afraid to admit the definition of “champion” is evolving:

A champion is no longer solely a megastar athlete; it is also any person who looks inside and challenges their personal best.”

Wheaties is now adjusting its brand by becoming more interactive with younger audiences who help decide what their parents buy at the supermarket.


In the Wheaties Next Challenge, consumers voted for one of five athletes they wanted to appear on the iconic orange box in January 2015. These pros weren’t from the world of baseball or football, though. General Mills is going after the niche markets of emerging sports, like motocross and mixed martial arts.

There is, of course, a catch! Voters had to exercise and record their results through a third-party website and mobile app, which also posted their performances to social media. As David Oehler, the marketing manager for Wheaties, said:

We’re excited to kick off the NEXT Challenge. It’s a new twist on the traditional contest because these athletes and their fans have got to have skin in the game. You can’t just sit idly by and click the mouse to submit a vote each day; you have to get out and you have to work for it.”

Although advertisers are targeting more specific audiences with customized messages that encourage instant feedback, the goal is still the same. Word-of-mouth communication is more powerful than ever because of the influence of social media. Companies want their product to be at the forefront of consumers’ minds. When someone is thinking about what they’re going to eat for breakfast, Wheaties should automatically come to mind as they open the pantry.

By the way, Michael Jordan has appeared on Wheaties boxes a record 18 times — the most of any athlete.