Chicago Cubs Marketing Strategy: We May Lose but We Have Heart
You have to hand it to the marketing staff for the Chicago Cubs. After reading the Wall Street Journal August 20 article, “Why Wrigley Field Is Suddenly So Empty” even though the Cubs have no chance of making the playoffs again this year the team in past has managed to still sell tickets and attract fans but the tide may be turning as ticket sales are down.
First some history: In 1981 The Tribune Company bought the Chicago Cubs for $20.5 million. Even though the team has not made it to the world series it did make it to the playoffs during some of those years with attendance going “from an average of 15,423 a game in 1982 to a high of 40,743 in 2008, the year before it sold the team.”
How did they do it? “The success of Tribune reflected a series of smart marketing moves. Among them: The company turned Cubs games into programming fodder for superstation WGN, which introduced the team to a vast national audience. Tribune hired as announcer Harry Caray, a graceless blowhard who nonetheless aroused an enormous fan following. Under savvy marketing chief John McDonough, the club celebrated the glories of lovely but age-worn Wrigley and cycled through a variety of promotions designed to put people in the seats (Beanie Baby days!). To declare yourself a Cubs fan was to place yourself in a vibrant community—people with the heart to embrace a loser. In the current language of marketing, the Chicago Cubs became a brand with soul, an entity that represented a portfolio of sympathetic qualities, including loyalty, perseverance, humility and tradition.”
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