Do you remember the New York Cosmos? Probably not - but not to worry, they're coming back. The famous soccer club of the 70's is being rebuilt from the ground up. Legend Pele is the Honorary President. King Cantona and Cobi Jones are Directors of Soccer. They don't have a team or a league yet but they are busy marketing and communicating. Their jerseys are for sale. They are on Times Square billboards. They have grassroots young players games and training camps. They are smart--they know that a soccer team is actually more than 11 people. They need the fans. Scratch that - they need zealots. NY Cosmos needs tens of thousands of people obsessing about the game - waking up with it, talking about it, posting about it, screaming about it.
So, they are turning to New Yorkers and proposing them a new reason to live. As their CMO and Director of Communications recently shared at the PSFK conference, the new team behind NY Cosmos is trying to create a brand that will start a movement and give way to the club, rather than the other way around. They have a six-act play in turning New Yorkers into an extension of their team:
1- There is no longer old and new, there's just good and bad or real and fake. NY Cosmos is good and it's real. It has a modern day significance with a strong heritage.
2- Provenance trumps personality: The Cosmos are from NY - a mega metropolitan with immigrant populations from every imaginable corner of the world. To appeal to a broader base, the Cosmos are marketing NY to a global landscape through soccer.
3- New York City is their #1 player: the NY Cosmos brand is closely aligned with New York City. There may not be a team in place yet, but aspirational ads are up on Times Square, the heart of the city. This one was up on Pele's birthday, to promote a series of promotional activities the club was organizing. [[posterous-content:mAtkfvcwCfzvDnnduxBe]]4- Dream big and make it happen: Through sports gear (vintage and new), the club is putting the Cosmos shirts on New Yorkers backs. This is not just to spread brand fame through fashion, but also to create a broader team and to generate street buzz. Check out the club's Web site with photos of fans from the streets of NY.
5. Honoring the fans: The Cosmos is not an elusive brand. They want to honor their hardcore fans and recruit at a grassroots level. The club is embracing those amateurs who had been gathering with their friends to play. The games already have the flavor of NY's global span. Where else are you going to get Albanians, Greeks, Mexicans and the Polish play on the same team?
6. Always do more than you say: The Cosmos Academy offers young, aspiring players a chance to train for free. The club is not just for those who can afford the tickets. It's truly for the love of soccer.
Many brands want to tap into the power of advocates and mobilize them, but few have the luxury to start with a base of hardcore believers who share the same passion and code. Having an active fan base makes the franchise all the more valuable to potential buyers. Once they meet M.L.S. requirements, NY Cosmos can really take off with New Yorkers' support and enthusiasm.