It's been over two months since B&RU's Adam M Taylor first speculated about the turn D.C. United's kit would take in the post-VW sponsorship era. Discussion on that post focused mainly on the style of kit supporters would like to see. Now that much of the angst of 2013 has dissipated amidst an offseason rebuilding program, it's time to turn to more important subjects, like the next shirt sponsor for United.
What should the focus be? What do fans care about most? For example:
- Do fans expect the self-styled "most successful professional club in United States soccer history" to come up with a big-name sponsor, a la Volkswagen?
- How much should we care that the sponsor's logo fits with the team's color scheme?
- Should the club aim for a more local-focused sponsor?
- With an overseas owner and our "membership" in Erick Thohir's international soccer "portfolio," do we want and expect a global brand?
I think MLS is reaching the point where there is going to be a certain amount of bragging rights for swanky sponsorships. For example, I fully expect NYCFC to sport an "Etihad" logo on their shirt in due time - that's European Champions League status in sponsor terms. David Beckham is going to want something bling-y. Will we settle for local-yokel?
With all that said, here are some ideas for sponsors, the most brilliant of which I owe to my friend and fellow DCU STH "The Baron" - a man of exquisite taste and discernment. Some of them are obviously tongue in cheek - we might as well have some fun with this before the reality of the 2014 season hits us.
What are your ideas, whether ridiculous, sublime, or hard-core commercial?
Let's just get this one out of the way. They're big, they've got power, and great brand recognition. And like it or not, even if you love living in the Nation's Capital and appreciate its finer points, the IRS is what many people way outside the Beltway think of when they think, "Washington, D.C." It's either that, or the (possibly more popular?) U.S. Congress. They both have their hands on significant amounts of moolah.
Whether you're for or against Obamacare, pretty much everyone agrees that the Healthcare.gov site has piss-poor ratings. Shouldn't it hitch its star to another organization aiming for the "Phoenix Effect"? We all know there's no way to go but up for United this year.
Time to start getting serious. With Northrop we go big: world-wide footprint, and serious technologies and products. And, what's bigger or more representative in the DC metro area than government contracting? If companies like this can throw ads all over the Metro and other marketing channels throughout the area, why not invest in a team with a tradition of success in a growing sport? It's called "investing in the community."
A no-brainer: Bethesda-based, operations that span the globe, and world-wide brand recognition. With Marriott as sponsor, the team would always have a place to sleep during away-games, including at the Five-Star JW Marriott in Jakarta, Indonesia. Marriott as sponsor might also ward off any chances of losing out on Champions League play due to incidents like Lasagna Gate.
Clark Construction Group
One of the biggest construction firms in the country. Local projects include Phase II of the Metro's Silver Line, Constitution Square, U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters ("the largest construction project in GSA history"), countless local office buildings, and something called Nationals Park. I wonder if they could handle a 22,000-seat stadium for United?
Ok, ok. I know this is impossible, what with Adidas being the league-wide kit manufacturer. But if the league ever moves to an each-club-cuts-its-own-deal system (which will never happen as long as MLS has a single-entity structure), it makes sense for DC United to go with a sportswear manufacturer that got its start in the area. Its founder, Kevin Plank, is a University of Maryland grad, started the company in his grandmother's basement in the District, and the company is now based in Baltimore. That's local enough for me, so they're on my "in 25 years' time" wish list.
Daniel Snyder has given local fans nothing but grief, pain, and suffering since he bought the area's NFL team. The least he could do is spend some of his cash (that local fans keep investing in his wild adventures) on a team that actually wins something.
That's what I've got. Ridiculous ideas are fine (we all need a laugh!), but how about some other serious contenders?