NYCFC Marketing Movement Begins

NYCFC Front Office taking shape as Manchester City players star in promotional video
by Nick Chavez   |   Thursday, November 21, 2013

Blue City – column on New York City FC (NYCFC) & the NYC area soccer scene.

New York City Football Club has finally put together a team, though not one that will be competing on the pitch vs. Major League Soccer’s best.

These new team members ply their trade in the business world of sports, and will need to draw upon their wealth of experience and talent to steer the NYCFC ship through the choppy waters of an extremely crowded sports market.

Chief Business Officer of NYCFC Tim Pernetti recruited his old colleague from Rutgers University, revenue-generating specialist Doug Fillis, as the expansion club’s first senior vice-president of partnerships. During their years together at Rutgers, these two gentlemen brought in record profit for the school’s athletic department, and secured several lucrative licensing agreements and business partnerships.

New hire Senior Director of Finance of New York City FC Josh Neier was most-recently senior director of finance for Major League Soccer, spending 10 years plying his trade in the finance department. Being financial director of the entire league certainly makes him a strong candidate to focus solely on the new club, so CBO Pernetti must consider this a coup.

To finish the trio of front-office hires, Pernetti brought in Mike Quarino, the former vice-president of ticket sales & fan services of the Philadelphia Union, who will carry on in this role, but this time in the service of NYCFC. Quarino’s Union Ticket Sales Teams won both the Commissioner’s Club Award for Full Season Ticket Sales and the President’s Club Award for Full Season Ticket Renewals, during the 2011 and 2012 seasons, respectively.

Having a strong and well-directed ticket sales force will be crucial for New York City, which will be hoping to get whichever stadium they play in temporarily as filled as possible to maintain the image of the club. If there’s too many empty seats and non-committed fans, it can make the club appear irrelevant and less-than-top-flight in NYC, and it will be a poor start for a club looking to impose itself in a market already being claimed by the recently-successful neighboring soccer clubs Red Bull New York and the New York Cosmos, let alone all the other more-established professional sports teams and attractions in the area.

Being on the front-lines of the revenue-generating side of the business will require a creative, motivating leader in the ticket sales office, and it appears Quarino is just that with his innovative implementation of the RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology for season ticket access at Philadelphia Union.

This state-of-the-art fan service allows for data to be collected to reward Union season ticket holders in the Loyalty Program based on factors such as how often they attend games, the amount of money spent on merchandise and concession, and how often they enter the stadium early, which adds up to points that can be redeemed for a variety of benefits and fan experiences that are exclusive to those who earn enough points through this first-of-its-kind system. A season-ticket benefits model that one must expect will be adopted by the ambitious, progressive-minded NYCFC and its wealthy ownership group.

Besides these three recruits, NYCFC also recently hired Edelman PR to help connect potential fans to the club and create excitement for its impending debut. A job that sounds remarkably similar to what Droga5 was hired to do, but Edelman will also apparently be aiding New York City FC with research facilitation to help it better understand the nuances of the local soccer market, and to use that information to aid in building its potential fan-base. Several sources have even gone as far as to say that Edelman will work to incorporate the values of both the Yankees and Manchester City, whatever that’s supposed to mean. I think most New York City FC fans will hope these values are those of ambition and a winning record.

Speaking of Manchester City, the “Citizens” of Manchester proper made cameos in a nicely put together promotional video called “Join The Movement” featuring the likes of Kun Aguero, Kompany, Clichy, David Silva, Nasri and other City stars having a kickabout in various locations of New York City, including Yankee Stadium itself. It’s an upbeat video, showing off the juggling skills of these players, with the impressive backdrop of the big city ever-present.

The anti-NYCFC citizens of the Internet were quick to deride the video as proof that New York City FC was just Manchester City-lite, but surely that’s a bit harsh at this point. Until NYCFC has its own players to put into promotional videos such as this, it is wise to use the glamor of their owners to their advantage, continuing to build up the excitement and attention for their project that is still very much in its infancy. With international viewers who hold nothing against the new club or Manchester City, it appeared to be a big hit on Twitter and YouTube, and just goes to show the glamor and draw that Manchester City (and the Yankees, to a lesser extent) command in the global sports landscape.

Besides the City players themselves, the video was very “New York”, with the scenery and the music, and they ended the video with the New York City FC title on its own reminding the audience what it’s really all about. With all of these pieces being put into place, once the machine really starts moving, by 2015 one can only expect that The Big Apple will need very little reminding of what’s in store. 


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