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Yormark profiles Islanders fans, but winning is the best marketing

Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark has a lot of ideas for marketing the Islanders. But the only one he needs is out of his hands.

Gotta win some of these
Gotta win some of these
Bruce Bennett

In the short time they've known him, Islanders fans have come to learn at least one thing about Barclays Center and Brooklyn Nets CEO Brett Yormark: his primary language is Brand-ese.

In an interview with Newsday's Arthur Staple, Yormark teased his grand plans to woo established and prospective Islanders fans to Brooklyn with a new slogan - Tradition Has A New Home - and a focus on the team's longstanding ties to the Long Island community.

From the story:

"We discovered early on that the hard-core fans on Long Island feel that they have a long-lasting tradition with the four Stanley Cups. Whether the team has been successful of late isn't really the question; it's, how to do you pay respect to that tradition in a way that invites and welcomes that long-time fan to make the move to Brooklyn?"

Yormark points to his group's market research and investigation into what makes Islanders fans tick as the starting point for the campaign. And that's not necessarily a bad idea.

Lost in the endless LOLWANGSNOWDIPIETROYASHINMAUSLOEUM insults thrown at the team on a daily basis is the almost familial connection former Islanders have with the people of Long Island. Many players have settled there, even after retirement, and there isn't a single person in any of the island's four counties that hasn't had a casual run-in with a four time Stanley Cup champion or, for that matter, anyone else that's worn the uniform. Everybody has seen Bobby Nystrom at the gas station, or has walked by Benoit Hogue at the rink or has a neighbor whose daughter is dating the guy who built a new deck at Mike Bossy's house (or something).

The dynasty teams were special and fans don't want to lose them. The good news is, no one is taking them away, least of all Yormark.

But in all the market research that went into discovering that information, Yormark's comments to Staple ignore an even more important element to the team's future in Brooklyn. I wasn't invited to the focus groups, but I could have saved Yormark a lot of time and money by telling him the secret about what Islanders fans really want:

  • The classic uniforms (check)
  • A winning team. (TBD)

That's it. That's the formula. Slogans and videos and bells and whistles are just icing. The real cake is in a team that's a consistent playoff presence and a Stanley Cup contender year after year and not once a decade (if that). While the article settles once and for all the uniforms issue, nowhere in there is "winning games" noted as part of the plan.

Fans are still immensely proud of the dynasty team, but the fans aren't fools, either. The Cup teams aren't coming back without a DeLorean. And the new fans in Brooklyn most likely won't be won over with 30-year old war stories.

The best way - possibly the only way - to make the Islanders' transition to Kings County a success is by putting a winning product on the ice. The established, hard core  fans could then set a line of demarcation between legendary team and the contemporary one, and sink their teeth into new shared struggles and victories instead of memorializing the ancient ones. And the new fan will be attracted by the energy pulsating out of Barclays Center and jump on the bandwagon that the older fans look down upon (but secretly need and fetishize).

The bad news for Brett Yormark is that he isn't the guy in charge of that stuff. It's on Jack Capuano, Garth Snow and (for now, at least) Charles Wang to do their part for the Brand, whatever that course of action might be.

If they don't, Yormark's Brand-ese will fall on deaf ears.


We've been in a musical mood lately, so I'll do the New York Times "prophetic music video at the end" thing.