Old stuff, but still makes you cry. The above links an article on some of Skate Canada's pre-Vancouver 2010 marketing wisdom about targeting men as a growth demo for Skate Canada's flagging ticket sales and television ratings. As that's what you do when interest falters. Don't try to re-engage your core demo. Instead, easily convince men that figure skating is as thrilling as hockey. Let me rephrase - as thrilling FOR THE SAME REASONS.*
One solution: Get more men to tune in. To do that, Skate Canada is encouraging skating officials and athletes to use words such as "strength," "power," "speed" and "risk" when describing the sport. Team members are being asked to play up the fact that they skate faster than most hockey players, jump higher than most basketball players and fall harder than most football players -- all without padding. (Debbie Wilkes, Skate Canada's marketing director and a former figure skater, says she doesn't have data to prove those assertions, but experience tells her they're probably true.)Here, Debbi demonstrates a fantastic grasp of why hockey, basketball and football are popular. Word association.
Damn, marketing is EASY.
You know what my experience tells me is probably true? Hockey-loving males, hypnotized by Debbi's savvy re-education campaign into forgetting they know what figure skating is, will show up at or tune into a figure skating competition anticipating manly men and determined women in - uh, costumes - 'pounding out' feats of SPEED, RISK and POWER. Only to be hit in the face (without padding!) with EMOTING, SPRAY TAN, MUSIC, MAKE-UP, HAIR GEL, CHOREOGRAPHY AND SPINNING. SPINNING ON THE ICE. SPINNING IN THE AIR!! SPINNING TO MUSIC! DO YOU KNOW WHAT IS SPINNING'S TWIN SISTER? TWIRLING!!
Then, just like hockey's Sidney Crosby, the guy who performed these feats will collect his stuffed animals and flowers and wait for his score in the KissNCry, making hand-hearts to folks at home.
No lie, in actual tests, professional ballet dancers routinely outperform professional football players in strength and endurance. Show the Sugar Plum Fairy taking down Hines Ward. Ballet companies will never need a fundraiser again. I have no data, but damn, it stands to (Debbi's) reason.
A few nits: based on what I've seen of a lot of very masculine figure skating costuming, Debbi's experience may not tell her that when half the males at the gala part of the competition (there's a word that needs changing for the men, Debbi - "gala") choose to costume themselves in tight plaid shirts tucked into butt squeezing jeans, or camouflage pants paired with a wife beater, the costumes leap over conventional masculinity by several time/space continiums and bulls-eye onto a 1980s Christopher Street bar.
Debbi is a branding genius:
The idea of rebranding the sport's image first came up last September at a team dinner in Vancouver. At the event, Ms. Wilkes, Skate Canada's marketing director, told skaters they needed to give the public a better sense of how hard they worked. She said they should play up the injuries they've had and their rigorous practice schedules.This will work.
"Woot woot! That's how to twizzle Charlie!!! Jesus, I think that guy split his pants last time he twizzled that fast. This sport takes a freaking BEAST!"
Soon, the men will be re-educating each OTHER:
"Ralph, did you know sometimes these guys fall down HARD, especially if they're going super fast and get cut on one of those really extra sharp blades on their feet?" "Yeah, I did." "Me too. Did you know it takes hours of tough daily training over years of commitment to skate like one of these guys?" "Yes. I'm not a fucking idiot."
Other SC initiatives included photographing figure skaters vis a vis Harley Davidsons, because Harley Davidsons aren't gay, and if the figure skaters are posing on them, the potential masculine audience will know they are not gay too. "It's not gay, Sam, I was looking in International Figure Skating magazine and one of these skaters was posing on a Harley. He even had stubble."
How come Debbi pitches her marketing strategies at people experience should tell her must be too dimwitted and devoid of life experience to earn the money for a ticket?
*and from William Thompson:
At the same time, Skate Canada is discouraging skaters from using too many sequins, feathers or anything else that dangles from their costumes. Adornments like that are "garish" and "distracting," says Skate Canada Chief Executive William Thompson, and belong "in an ice show, not a competition."For sure. Fix the garish costume aspect, and before SC knows it, figure skating will be as popular with guys as gymnastics.