Los Angeles Chargers
Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
4 October 2017
The brand failure of the Los Angeles Chargers
The first quarter of the 2017 NFL season demonstrates that the Chiefs rock, the Patriots defense sucks, Colin Kaepernick is being blackballed and the Chargers remain brand-less.
Football season sees thousands of fans pack stadiums wearing their favorite home team’s player’s jersey. A home team energizes a city and excites people to see an afternoon of football.
That’s exactly what takes place for 30.5 out of the 32 teams in the NFL. But LA is a little different.
As you know, LA went from having zero football teams to hosting two in just two years. The city now sports the 3-1 Rams and the 0-4 Chargers. The Rams moved from St. Louis with the promise of getting a new stadium. The Chargers moved 120 miles north from San Diego with the promise of…the same new stadium. Neither team sells out. But the Rams, at least, connect with LA a little better because of their past history with LA and playing in the 93,000-seat capacity Los Angeles Coliseum. The Rams played in Los Angeles for 48 years before moving to St. Louis in 1995. The Rams hold brand equity in the city.
The Chargers, on the other hand, are imploding. They have no natural connection in LA. In fact, I would guess a number of LA football fans cheered against the team when they were in San Diego. Winless record aside, the Chargers are playing in the NFL’s smallest stadium, the Stub Hub Center, with a stated capacity of 27,000. Attendance remains so weak they tarp off sections of the stadium to make it look full. By contrast, the 0-4 Cleveland Browns average 67,000 fans per home game.
Last week’s game against the Eagles tied for fifth in viewership in the LA market. What’s worse, most of the fans attending the game rooted for the Eagles.
“In sports, the only thing keeping fanbases interested in the absence of winning is tradition.”
Los Angelenos simply do not care about the Chargers
From a branding perspective, what are the Chargers to do? Because we study human behavior, our usual response says the team must reflect those they wish to influence. Identify with those (potential) fans values and beliefs.
But this is different. This is sports. It is sports in a city with two NFL teams. You know what potential fans in LA value and believe in? Winning. Oh sure, the move was terrible idea in the first place and the Chargers, in reality, made absolutely zero effort in trying to connect with LA. The team fronts same logo, name and some players are commuting from San Diego. (Most notably, star quarterback Philip Rivers.)
In sports, the only thing keeping fanbases interested in the absence of winning is tradition. (God love Browns fans). With out that, winning is everything. Simply put, the Chargers mean nothing in LA because they record no wins.
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