— Dave Martinez (@EmpireOfSoccer) April 5, 2013
If It takes Giovanni Saravese to coax New Yorkers to pick up season tickets for a team they'll have to jump on a Long Island Railroad train, then a bus to see, then so be it (and as I understand it, if you want to drink, they're pretty overpriced).
But this isn't so much about the Cosmos, as it's about the Red Bulls, their lack of marketing and their inability or lack of desire to do so. The Cosmos, an NASL side (fine, a well-heeled NASL side) already has more marketing reach than the Red Bulls, a team backed by a multi-billion dollar soft drink company. That's concerning, especially as the Red Bulls flounder at the gate.
It's long been a rumor that Red Bull's New York division doesn't get much of a marketing budget, a rumor that started under the embattled Chris Heck and seems increasingly true under Jerome de Bontin. All that was left was for Heck to slap Thierry Henry's face across some 4-packs of Red Bull and splatter a stylized picture of Henry executing a bicycle kick across some buildings. Essentially, all Heck could do was leverage "the brand" to bring some attention to the team.
De Bontin's answer to the question is, reportedly, some Facebook ads and some ads on Goal.com, which is a better idea than Heck's but still not great. At least de Bontin's strategy finds ways to get to people who already like sports. With your (supposedly) limited advertising dollars, finding people who are most likely receptive to your product to begin with isn't a bad idea, because Lord knows not every sports fan in the New York metropolitan area has made a trip out to Harrison.
What the Red Bulls are lacking, though, is visibility. Few other teams share their market with nine other major, entrenched professional sports teams, but the Red Bulls do. The Red Bulls marketing has to do far more than just shill for tickets. It has to get people to realize New York has a professional soccer team.
In a city that swells in population during the work day, advertisements on the PATH, Subway or other commuter rail would do it. Captive audiences and all that. And they can't be that expensive, what with all the hokey ones you end up seeing on the train already. Any sort of commercial on MSG, YES or SNY would be effective, too, and building on de Bontin's apparent "advertise to sports fans" strategy. And again, cost effective. There are far too many TMZ and W.B. Mason commercials running on those networks already.
It's entire possibly -- in fact, a very likely one -- that these were ideas already. Which brings us to an even more concerning issue: That our Austrian overlords don't provide their New York Red Bulls with even that large a marketing budget. For that, not a lot can be done.