IS AMERICA INFLUENCING BRITISH FOOTBALL BRANDING?
Recently, Hull City Association Football Club (AFC), one of the 20 current members of England’s gilded top division of soccer, lost a plea to change their name to “Hull Tigers.” Their owner, Egyptian-born industrialist Assem Allam, was none too pleased, and publicly stated that he would begin fielding offers for the club if the name change wasn’t carried out in due time. This is worrying for Hull City fans, who have come to rely on Allam’s coffers – and in a time where football clubs are succumbing to financial woes left wing, right back, and centre forward, his departure would likely see Hull drop out of the Premier League.
So what’s in a name (or, larger, brand) for a soccer club? Tampering with sacred aspects of the club has become the norm if it’s expected to fetch a penny. Vincent Tam, owner of Cardiff City, who bear the nickname “Bluebirds,” changed the club’s colors from blue to red upon buying the club. His ulterior motive was jersey sales in his native Malaysia, where red is a symbol of luck. The move backfired spectacularly and won Tam the scorn of the Welsh capital, but there is precedent for tinkering with the untouchable.
Hull City sees an opportunity, and you’d be foolish to assume America doesn’t play a large role in it. Much as American soccer franchises adorn themselves with faux-European names to create the illusion of heritage (Real Salt Lake, Sporting Kansas City, DC United), Hull is attempting to Americanize their brand with the “location mascot” naming archetype. Say it out loud: Hull Tigers sounds much cooler than Hull City AFC. Plus, there are already countless other “City” teams in English soccer, with Manchester City going so far as to use the word “City” on their 2015 jerseys.
So why block the move? Update the crest with a Nike-fied, angular, aggressive tiger logo and let Hull have their fun. That cartoonish, laughable tiger on their crest does them no favors. They’re the only club in the top four tiers of English football to use an amber-black color palate, and those colors lend themselves to exquisite applications. Let Nike work their magic and deliver a brand that might just captivate the American child who’s catching a glimpse of them on NBCSN. If international dollars allow Allam to woo a world-class winger to Hull, the locals will forgive the branding “injustice.” Or Allam walks and everyone loses.
~ Chase Cambria, Jr. Copywriter, The S3 Agency