Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ok, WNBA.... You've got the tiger by the tail...

... so what are you going to do about it???

After the big fracas last week between LA and Detroit, the WNBA has enjoyed an unprecedented level of attention from the media and the public. But even more importantly, the fans have become completely dialed in and engaged in the product, writing pages of vexed commentary, posting blog entries right and left (like this one!), and just generally tossing in the moss. So I ask again, what is the WNBA going to do about it? How can they harness all this terrific energy that the fight/flashpoint has generated and turn it into the marketing juggernaut that it should be??

When the incident first occurred, I turned to the girlfriend, and after a few "Are you freakin' kidding me"s, said, "This could be the greatest thing to ever happen for this league." Why? The poster child of women's hoops, Candace Parker, just showed us that she's a human being (and a young one at that), and reflected back to us all the emotions and the drama that sports represents. These ladies are passionate, and they work hard, and if they perceive disrespect, they let you know.

I don't have a problem with it. I have a problem if we think that just because these players are women that means they have some sort of super-human temper controller that makes them impervious to anger. Just 'cause they're ladies, doesn't mean they aren't players. Speaking from experience, it is nearly impossible not to react to physical contact that is perceived as extra-curricular to the game. I have been there many times - not in a fight - but I have reacted very angrily to hard fouls... I completely understand where both CP and Plenette were coming from.

Back to the original question, how is the WNBA going to keep all these newly engaged audience members from losing interest? For one, they have to break out of the party line. Members of the WNBA have to be able to speak on the subject. I haven't seen a single blog post out of anyone in the league responding to the event, which tells me Donna O. prohibited anyone from speaking about it. That is exactly the wrong idea. In my business, that would be considered bad customer service.

It's the new media age - let the customer (the fan) interact with the brand (the players, staff, etc.) about what the product (the league, the games, the teams) means to them, and how the fracas affected them. Let the brand speak to its own value and let the customer affirm it. I would bet the players share equally divergent viewpoints on whether the dust-up was good or bad for the league - let 'em share with us! The fans will feel like they participate in the development of the brand, and the brand will be stronger for it.

UPDATE: A columnist for the LA Times feels much the same way that I do...

No comments: