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The Devils struggle with their "brand"

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http://espn.go.com/nhl/story/_/id/7680767/new-jersey-devils-bad-reputation

Hard to argue. But actually a very good read.

When it comes to teams that struggle with public branding, one team stands out above the rest: the New Jersey Devils.

Despite their creative and persistent efforts, and despite a very attractive team with exhilarating/unique players such as Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk, legends such as Martin Brodeur and interesting young players such as Rookie of the Year candidate Adam Henrique (rookie scoring leader), the Devils don't hum the turnstiles for a team on its way to the playoffs.

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It really is a good article - Bucci's a hockey guy despite working at ESPN and is usually pretty fair to the Devils. It's kind of stunning that this team can't get the marketing side down all these years (though, admittedly, they've been better since moving to Newark than ever before that).

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i have a degree in marketing, i dont use it, there is surely a difference in what you think would be cool and what a survey says.

brand management has more to do with not sullying a good name.

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Interesting read. He summed up the situation pretty well. However, most of the points he brings up is stuff that we diehards already know (and have talked about in this forum). I'd say the only thing missing was a revealing answer to the main problem.

Still though, good article.

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devils marketing team are retarded. honestly. has anyone seen "its difference here" commercials? HORRID!

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i have a bachelor's in marketing too lol and now i am a librarian so there you go

i think the poor marketing is hurting the devils. they should hire a consulting firm to help them with this issue

Edited by grcenter47

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thats another reason the devils cant let Zach go... he's the most marketable guy here or tie with Kovy now... so they cant afford to have less marketable players really imo

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I like how this "NEW" News. The Devils have always had trouble with attendance and marketing.

The key factor for the Devils has always been hard-work and a frugal GM who would say, "this is what you are going to make... take it or leave it." While at times it was not what I agreed with, it worked and worked for years. No one can deny from 1987-88 when they first got to the playoffs until the 2009-10 they were a team based upon on drafting, goaltending, and defense first. That was a business model that had not changed until now.

Kovalchuk while being a tremendous talent has made quite the stir since coming to the Devils. He has has also made quite a bit of noise with his contract (both the length and controversy with it). This was the first deal in which the Devils organiation said, "hey we want you, what will it cost?" While many Devils fans were elated to land Kovalchuk some (such as yours truly) saw it differently. No one will deny that Kovalchuk has immense talent, but the lack of a true two-way player has hurt the team on many occassions. His defensive lapses have hurt the team when they occur and there are times when he has turned the puck over that he coasts back on defense when he plays the point. The ultimate impact won't be fully realized for years although next year might be the start with Parise. What will happen? I've speculated, but no one knows until it happens.

As for hiring a consulting firm to help like Gabe has stated... They can't even pay rent and nothing says, "we don't know what the hell we are doing" like hiring a consulting firm. It is the preverbial 'last straw' before just plain selling and the Devils are not there yet.

The Devils need to put people in their seats. Unused seats are like lost rented rooms at a hotel; you cannot recoup that loss as it is gone forever. The team should take a hard-look at things and really be more proactive. Look to other clubs like the Maple Leafs and Blackhawks who pack the stands. True they are both original six teams, but the Blackhawks once alienated their fans and their former stars for years under the dictatorship of William Wirtz. Once he died, and Rocky took over... things changed and boy did they ever. A revamped team and renewed passion of going to the Hawks games was born. To date the Blackhawks have close to 185 consecutive sell-out crowds. Do that math, CONSECUTIVE sell-out crowds. They have cool give-aways and they make going to a Hawks game the "thing to do". From shoot the puck, to bobblehead give-aways, to just great food, to former player on ice-celebartions, to their very own convention, to you name it. It is a happening place to be as I saw first hand when the Devils were in town to play the Hawks in November of 2010. The city has a 10% sales tax that is outragious along with expensive parking and yet they still fill that building. Unfortunately for the Devils to make money, they are going to need to spend it and I don't see it happening. If they did 1/2 of what the Hawks did right, they'd fill those seats and start their way there.

Before I get jumped on, please take a look at attendance for Hawks games in 2004-06 and then on the turn-around when Rocky Wirtz took over... There business model works, the Devils current one doesn't.

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I like how this "NEW" News. The Devils have always had trouble with attendance and marketing.

The key factor for the Devils has always been hard-work and a frugal GM who would say, "this is what you are going to make... take it or leave it." While at times it was not what I agreed with, it worked and worked for years. No one can deny from 1987-88 when they first got to the playoffs until the 2009-10 they were a team based upon on drafting, goaltending, and defense first. That was a business model that had not changed until now.

Kovalchuk while being a tremendous talent has made quite the stir since coming to the Devils. He has has also made quite a bit of noise with his contract (both the length and controversy with it). This was the first deal in which the Devils organiation said, "hey we want you, what will it cost?" While many Devils fans were elated to land Kovalchuk some (such as yours truly) saw it differently. No one will deny that Kovalchuk has immense talent, but the lack of a true two-way player has hurt the team on many occassions. His defensive lapses have hurt the team when they occur and there are times when he has turned the puck over that he coasts back on defense when he plays the point. The ultimate impact won't be fully realized for years although next year might be the start with Parise. What will happen? I've speculated, but no one knows until it happens.

As for hiring a consulting firm to help like Gabe has stated... They can't even pay rent and nothing says, "we don't know what the hell we are doing" like hiring a consulting firm. It is the preverbial 'last straw' before just plain selling and the Devils are not there yet.

The Devils need to put people in their seats. Unused seats are like lost rented rooms at a hotel; you cannot recoup that loss as it is gone forever. The team should take a hard-look at things and really be more proactive. Look to other clubs like the Maple Leafs and Blackhawks who pack the stands. True they are both original six teams, but the Blackhawks once alienated their fans and their former stars for years under the dictatorship of William Wirtz. Once he died, and Rocky took over... things changed and boy did they ever. A revamped team and renewed passion of going to the Hawks games was born. To date the Blackhawks have close to 185 consecutive sell-out crowds. Do that math, CONSECUTIVE sell-out crowds. They have cool give-aways and they make going to a Hawks game the "thing to do". From shoot the puck, to bobblehead give-aways, to just great food, to former player on ice-celebartions, to their very own convention, to you name it. It is a happening place to be as I saw first hand when the Devils were in town to play the Hawks in November of 2010. The city has a 10% sales tax that is outragious along with expensive parking and yet they still fill that building. Unfortunately for the Devils to make money, they are going to need to spend it and I don't see it happening. If they did 1/2 of what the Hawks did right, they'd fill those seats and start their way there.

Before I get jumped on, please take a look at attendance for Hawks games in 2004-06 and then on the turn-around when Rocky Wirtz took over... There business model works, the Devils current one doesn't.

Very impressive. One of the biggest Kovy haters on the board comes along in a marketing thread no less and somehow finds a way to rip Kovy for an entire paragraph. Well done sir.

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Very impressive. One of the biggest Kovy haters on the board comes along in a marketing thread no less and somehow finds a way to rip Kovy for an entire paragraph. Well done sir.

First, I still have trouble getting past "Kovy" not referring to Kovalev who was nicknamed that first.

Where did I "rip him"? I merely stated facts and pointed out what he has done. He has scored some nice goals and went on streaks. Where was he tonight or in general for the past 15 games in terms of goal output? Don't worry no matter what I say, he'll still be here tomororw unfortunately. :lol:

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The blackhawks sell out now cause their fans are a bunch of front runners and jumped on the band wagon when the team got good. Its one of the biggest cities in the country and the only nhl team in town, all they have to do is put a decent team on the ice and the fans will pack the building.

Toronto has priced out a huge amount of their loyal fans but its toronto, place will be sold out no matter what.

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Dear Choke-on-a-stick17,

Your posts on the board have gone from "bad" to "hysterical". Nobody takes you seriously, nobody cares about your absurd Kovy-blind-hate ("facts" made me giggle) that would make even Manta say "whoa slow down buddy". If you can't see the skill, leadership, and hard work Kovalchuk brings to the team you're nothing short of an absolute moron. You're going on my ignore list now, but I needed to say this one last time.

You're a sad, strange little man. And you have my pity.

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thats another reason the devils cant let Zach go... he's the most marketable guy here or tie with Kovy now... so they cant afford to have less marketable players really imo

Except he and Kovy are rarely marketed. If I'm a casual sports fan in this state or area I barely know who these guys are but a casual sports fan in Maryland or northern Virgina knows who Alex Ovechkin is, maybe even Backstrom and Semin. That's the difference and a problem with the Devils. They don't promote their star players or their team well enough. What happened to the posters at the NJTransit stations or on buses? Billboards?

As for the Blackhawks they have frontrunners(which help fill the seats), but not just because they were Cup contenders. Don't underestimate how much damage Bill Wirtz did to that club and fanbase. They barely missed the playoffs in 2008 but attendance still jumped from 29th in 07 to 19th in 08 to 1st overall in 09.

When you can only get 15,000 to a late season game against the Flyers when you're in the middle of a playoff race on a Sunday with no rain or snow, something is seriously wrong.

Edited by Marv4Life

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Except he and Kovy are rarely marketed. If I'm a casual sports fan in this state or area I barely know who these guys are but a casual sports fan in Maryland or northern Virgina knows who Alex Ovechkin is, maybe even Backstrom and Semin. That's the difference and a problem with the Devils. They don't promote their star players or their team well enough. What happened to the posters at the NJTransit stations or on buses? Billboards?

As for the Blackhawks they have frontrunners(which help fill the seats), but not just because they were Cup contenders. Don't underestimate how much damage Bill Wirtz did to that club and fanbase. They barely missed the playoffs in 2008 but attendance still jumped from 29th in 07 to 19th in 08 to 1st overall in 09.

When you can only get 15,000 to a late season game against the Flyers when you're in the middle of a playoff race on a Sunday with no rain or snow, something is seriously wrong.

This is a problem that has gone on since the Devils moved here. McMullen and Lou have always had the impression that if they promoted their players, they would then become stars and demand big money. They admitted it someplace in an interview long ago. However, they would like for you to believe they do this as a way to put team above player which is total BS.

Look at the player polls that come out every year when they ask "Which team would you like to play for if you had the chance?" Usually it is successful or traditional teams that are ranked high but not the Devils. The Devils are almost certainly never in the top 5 or even top 10.

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I like how this "NEW" News. The Devils have always had trouble with attendance and marketing.

The key factor for the Devils has always been hard-work and a frugal GM who would say, "this is what you are going to make... take it or leave it." While at times it was not what I agreed with, it worked and worked for years. No one can deny from 1987-88 when they first got to the playoffs until the 2009-10 they were a team based upon on drafting, goaltending, and defense first. That was a business model that had not changed until now.

Kovalchuk while being a tremendous talent has made quite the stir since coming to the Devils. He has has also made quite a bit of noise with his contract (both the length and controversy with it). This was the first deal in which the Devils organiation said, "hey we want you, what will it cost?" While many Devils fans were elated to land Kovalchuk some (such as yours truly) saw it differently. No one will deny that Kovalchuk has immense talent, but the lack of a true two-way player has hurt the team on many occassions. His defensive lapses have hurt the team when they occur and there are times when he has turned the puck over that he coasts back on defense when he plays the point. The ultimate impact won't be fully realized for years although next year might be the start with Parise. What will happen? I've speculated, but no one knows until it happens.

As for hiring a consulting firm to help like Gabe has stated... They can't even pay rent and nothing says, "we don't know what the hell we are doing" like hiring a consulting firm. It is the preverbial 'last straw' before just plain selling and the Devils are not there yet.

The Devils need to put people in their seats. Unused seats are like lost rented rooms at a hotel; you cannot recoup that loss as it is gone forever. The team should take a hard-look at things and really be more proactive. Look to other clubs like the Maple Leafs and Blackhawks who pack the stands. True they are both original six teams, but the Blackhawks once alienated their fans and their former stars for years under the dictatorship of William Wirtz. Once he died, and Rocky took over... things changed and boy did they ever. A revamped team and renewed passion of going to the Hawks games was born. To date the Blackhawks have close to 185 consecutive sell-out crowds. Do that math, CONSECUTIVE sell-out crowds. They have cool give-aways and they make going to a Hawks game the "thing to do". From shoot the puck, to bobblehead give-aways, to just great food, to former player on ice-celebartions, to their very own convention, to you name it. It is a happening place to be as I saw first hand when the Devils were in town to play the Hawks in November of 2010. The city has a 10% sales tax that is outragious along with expensive parking and yet they still fill that building. Unfortunately for the Devils to make money, they are going to need to spend it and I don't see it happening. If they did 1/2 of what the Hawks did right, they'd fill those seats and start their way there.

Before I get jumped on, please take a look at attendance for Hawks games in 2004-06 and then on the turn-around when Rocky Wirtz took over... There business model works, the Devils current one doesn't.

Just commenting on the bold point, I think the consulting hiring is a step in the right direction and not a last ditch effort. Vanderbeek bought a team that didn't have a marketing department, never toyed with the concept of it and it was totally alien to those who already worked there. JVB is a finance guy, not a marketing guy, so he had to start someplace.

Basically just the idea of the Devils actually doing marketing didn't exist until a few years ago, so they got about 25 years worth of catching up to do. It is not perfect, but it is getting better every year.

Edited by DevsMan84

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The problem has been defined:

"The Devils and Lamoriello didn't care what you thought about them. Yet the fact of the hockey matter is, businesses and sports teams should care. They have to care. You can't market a team in the GM's image."

http://espn.go.com/n...-bad-reputation

Edited by LucifersDog

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i have a degree in marketing, i dont use it, there is surely a difference in what you think would be cool and what a survey says.

brand management has more to do with not sullying a good name.

Kind of what I was thinking.

Devils have a VERY loud and clear branding. System Hockey with an emphasis on defensive responsibility and consistency. Winning above all, risk averse, team play, little to no commercial presence. What's not clear about that?

anyhow -- we all understand what he was trying to say :P

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We play in a market that doesnt cover its own backyard of NJ, or hockey in general.

It wouldnt matter if we marketed ourselves til we were blue.

Edited by devlman

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I like how this "NEW" News. The Devils have always had trouble with attendance and marketing.

Nobody said this was "NEW" news. This isn't a news article, it's a commentary piece. I think people just see "ESPN" and automatically go into hate mode without pausing to consider that Buccigross isn't a blowhard like almost everyone else at the mothership.

This is a problem that has gone on since the Devils moved here. McMullen and Lou have always had the impression that if they promoted their players, they would then become stars and demand big money. They admitted it someplace in an interview long ago. However, they would like for you to believe they do this as a way to put team above player which is total BS.

And it's not going to change until the Lou Lamoriello era comes to an end.

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i have a degree in marketing, i dont use it, there is surely a difference in what you think would be cool and what a survey says.

brand management has more to do with not sullying a good name.

First line of the article: "Twenty-first century corporate America is about developing, marketing and then protecting the brand."

Kind of what I was thinking.

Devils have a VERY loud and clear branding. System Hockey with an emphasis on defensive responsibility and consistency. Winning above all, risk averse, team play, little to no commercial presence. What's not clear about that?

anyhow -- we all understand what he was trying to say :P

Which is all well and good, but it only serves to bring in the diehards. Maybe it would be different if the Devils weren't the third team in a three-team TV market, not to mention the other six Big Four pro teams that call the NYC/northern NJ area home.

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Which is all well and good, but it only serves to bring in the diehards. Maybe it would be different if the Devils weren't the third team in a three-team TV market, not to mention the other six Big Four pro teams that call the NYC/northern NJ area home.

Precisely. Like it or not a defensive-minded, boring, "trap" team with no marketable stars in a fringe league is NOT appealing at all to the average casual sports fan. And I have yet to hear anyone from the Devils come out publicly to even attempt to dismiss that notion.

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It's just an overcrowded sports market, especially when it comes to hockey whose total fan base is limited. That is, the total market of people in the area that are or would remotely interested in the NHL enough to pay money to go to games is relatively small. The geographic market has three different hockey teams (maybe even four if you include the Flyers), and one of those teams has been around for years and already had a large following in NJ before the Devils came along. You can do all the advertising and ingenious marketing strategies that you want, but it will only help out at the margins.

Just compare to the Nets. Even when they were good and went to the finals on a couple of occasions, their attendance was still awful, and vastly outnumbered by those of totally pathetic Knicks teams.

Small crowds, especially in the regular season, are just a fact of life for the Devils or any Jersey team that might come around. It doesn't mean the fans we have are any less passionate or knowledegable than those of any other team. And the Rangers can take their big crowds of fans who think the world revolves around them, and I'll take a franchise that has been much more successful than the Rangers have been ON THE ICE where it really counts.

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It's just an overcrowded sports market, especially when it comes to hockey whose total fan base is limited. That is, the total market of people in the area that are or would remotely interested in the NHL enough to pay money to go to games is relatively small. The geographic market has three different hockey teams (maybe even four if you include the Flyers), and one of those teams has been around for years and already had a large following in NJ before the Devils came along. You can do all the advertising and ingenious marketing strategies that you want, but it will only help out at the margins.

i agree with this

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