Losing, But More Gracefully This Time
Run With Us. Show Ya Luv. Passionate. Intense. Proud.
Out with the old inspirational Sixers marketing slogans and in with the new – Together We Build – which the Sixers announced today via hilariously convoluted press release. This one was so good that Dan and I decided to tag-team it. To the PRT!
CONCEPT HIGHLIGHTS THE GRIT OF THE TEAM AND PHILADELPHIA,
WHILE INCORPORATING THE CITY’S RICH TRADITION AND ICONIC STRUCTURES
Kyle: It took them four words to get to grit. I had the over-under set at 2.5. We’re off to a good start.
Dan: Know when a new slogan isn’t very good? When the first sentence that follows is dedicated to its explanation.
In 1776, our nation’s Founding Fathers gathered in Philadelphia to form the United States of America. Their vision for the country was great, but their dream took more than a pen stroke to be realized – it required hardship, years of challenge and a fervent commitment to progress to help them grasp what the future could hold.
Kyle: Andrew Wiggins?
Dan: It also helped that England was fighting a war 3500+ miles away from their supply base. With help from the French and Spanish. I mean, USA! USA! USA!
Philadelphia is filled with landmarks hearkening back to those historic days, that speak to the city’s steadfastness in the face of adversity, and point to the sweet success achieved with an indomitable spirit.
Kyle: And the willingness to sit through a 10-72 season.
Dan: Know who really cares about Philadelphia’s history and actually gets anything out of it? Tourists who don’t live in Philadelphia. Know which group of people cares about the 76ers? People from Philadelphia. Exclusively.
The proud history of Independence Hall, where our nation was born. A freedom worth fighting for, symbolized by the Liberty Bell. Cobblestoned streets, where the feet of our forefathers meet those of today. The Benjamin Franklin Bridge, connecting a city and people with strength and grace. And Rocky Balboa, arms raised high in victory, just steps away from where he fought his demons to become great.
Kyle: And just a few miles from where new head coach Brett Brown will put on the court a lineup with not one player with a rating higher than 79 NBA 2k14.
Dan: The Rocky Balboa reference is weak writing and serves only as a rhetorical crutch for someone whose knowledge of Philadelphia comes from the bumpers NBC airs immediately before commercial breaks during a Sunday Night Eagles game. Beyond that, Rocky Balboa is just a square on “Philadelphia Bingo” and doesn’t support the rest of the paragraph which tries to figuratively connect the story of the American Revolution with that of a re-building year for a perennially crappy basketball team. Rocky… overcame demons. Yeah.
The traits of this city are ingrained in every bit of Philadelphia. Beyond gender, race, education, income and every other divider of people, there are creeds for which the City of Brotherly Love is known: Compassion with an edge, to drive progress and push forward. An insatiable drive to rise above adversity. A hunger to prove naysayers wrong. A hope that cannot be quenched.
Kyle: Something tells me that the person who wrote this has spent, maybe, three afternoons in Philadelphia.
Dan: More rhetorical diarrhea. Replace “Philadelphia” with any other city, then its nickname in the next sentence, and this still has the same (read: zero) meaning. This is press release boilerplate garbage. “Compassion with an edge” – What? “Sure, I’ll help you change your flat tire, but steal your wallet while I help?” THIS DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING.
One of the few things embodying that same essence – of uniting a people across all boundaries – is sport.
Kyle: Cheesesteaks, too.
Dan: Also throwing snowballs at Santa Claus. Oh, wait, sorry. I thought we were playing Philadelphia Stereotype Bingo when Kyle mentioned cheesesteaks.
With these truths in mind…
Kyle: OK who let Adam Aron back in the building?
Dan: The writer really couldn’t have used the phrase “With these truths self-evident,” instead? Come on, press release writer; we were counting on you. If you’re going to play up Philadelphia’s sense of history, we want you to at least misappropriate some language from the most important document in the history of the United States. (Constitution fans, I’ll see you in the comments. Monroe Doctrine enthusiasts, don’t bother.)
… the Philadelphia 76ers today launched their new marketing campaign, titled “Together We Build.”
Dan: No fan wants to be reminded by the front office that the season will be viewed as a rebuilding year. This is our word for rationalizing the mid-season realization that a pre-Christmas run was a fluke and the team actually isn’t very good.
Kyle: By itself, it’s not a bad slogan. But this explanation is getting ridiculous, approaching hokey. Can we please just read what the publicist wrote for Devils CEO Scott O’Neil?
“The team’s vision is great – to work toward a future we can all be proud of, that will unite the people of Philadelphia and inspire our youth to achieve more,” said Sixers CEO Scott O’Neil. “We are at the foundation of our plan, but the Sixers will lean on one another as a team, taking the ideas and support of our fans and the passion of Philadelphia to press on toward our ultimate goal.”
Kyle: Two lottery picks.
Dan: Inspire our youth to achieve more. The children! Think of the children! Really, why is this here? Great concept and goal, sure, but this press release has no mention of any youth development programs. But, um, good for them.
Advertising for the campaign includes the meshing of iconic Philadelphia structures with industrial objects, symbolizing the building blocks needed to work toward greatness.
Kyle: Now they’re just trying too hard.
Dan: No, no, Kyle. Philadelphia is exclusively a blue collar town. And we love being reminded of that, dammit. Get me a shovel and double-kneed pants. Tell me how tough I am, 76ers! Just ask the residents who now can’t afford to live in the gentrified parts of Northern Liberties and Fishtown. Pure Blue Collar. It was convenient for the writer to think of Philadelphia as having class and economic divisions (which sports help overcome!) a few paragraphs ago, but now it’s back to the “Philadelphia is a blue collar town, dammit” line of thinking. Yo, Kyle, did you know Rocky lived here?
Kyle: Vince Papale! Sorry, I mouth-farted a Philly thing.
The campaign, which officially launched in outdoor advertising today, will include more than 40 different images varying on the same theme. Billboard locations include the Pennsylvania Turnpike (West), I-95 (North and South), the Walt Whitman Bridge (West), the Schuylkill Expressway (West), US 1/Roosevelt Highway (North and South), and Route 30/Admiral Wilson Boulevard at the base of the Ben Franklin Bridge (East). Print ads will also run in the Philadelphia Business Journal on Friday, October 4, as well as in the November issues of Philadelphia Magazine and South Jersey Magazine.
Kyle: Yes, the Philadelphia Business Journal, where Sixers fans congregate to discuss the latest seed round funding for their favorite startups.
This is what I have been talking about with not buying what Joshua Harris and his ownership-management group is selling. From the time they unveiled those inane mascots to this ridiculously self-indulgent press release, it’s been so. painfully. obvious. that the people making the decisions are calling plays from the playbook of Philly stereotypes. Like, fans here are significantly smarter than they look. We get it, and like it– you’re tanking. It took a decade for the team to realize that that’s what was necessary. But there’s no need to announce it with an insulting and patronizing press release that recalls the Declaration of Independence(!).
The team is very much rebuilding, both on the court and off. And again, this is why you don’t put a guy who ran cruise ships or who is currently splitting his time running a hockey team in North Jersey in charge. The organization… it needs a little more attention. It doesn’t need someone from Philadelphia, but it does need someone smart enough to seek advice from someone who might tell him: HEY THIS IS FUCKING WEIRD. TRY LESS HARD, AVIS.
Dan: Know what’s the one and only thing that’s going to get people to care about the 76ers or any other sports team? Winning. Not slogans, not pandering to an audience that doesn’t exist. Of course that’s easier said than done, but that’s what it takes. All this sloganeering isn’t doing any damage, but people won’t care what the slogan is if they’re winning.
Kyle: Or if, you know, it didn’t feel like the basketball team was being run by the guys who adapted the Philadelphia edition of Monopoly.*
*CoreStates is Boardwalk! Someone needs to update that game!!