With news coming of Steve Jobs stepping away from being CEO of Apple, the world’s most valued company, it got me thinking. Under Jobs’ reign, Apple bounced back to be a force to contend with. They did things controlled and calculated. Some consider them to be the best launch company in the world, while others say they got lucky with the release of the iPod. Really they gave consumers what they wanted, when they were ready.
Fast forward today and you’ve got the iPhone and iPad tossed into the mix as well. What does this have to do with hockey? Well it doesn’t really take a rocket scientist to see that True North is actually taking a page out of Apple’s marketing strategy.
Economics dictate the fundamentals of supply and demand. And while the demand has been there since before the Jets took off for the Arizona desert, the supply didn’t exist. Over the last 15 years TNSE was instrumental in drumming up the desire for professional hockey. They increased the demand for the return of the NHL so much that the supply of fans couldn’t help but increase. Even in a recession thousands of fans have put their money where their mouth is. The hardest part was the supply of an organization to relocate. Finally, the stars aligned and along came the Thrashers.
It was more than that though. It’s true that TNSE gave us an NHL team back. And for that, we are all grateful. There were lots of rumors going on about what the team would be called. And while we knew from the outset that they wouldn’t be called the Winnipeg WhiteOut, there was no certainty on the team being named the Winnipeg Jets.
Finally the ownership released the Jets name in a way that they wanted to. We’re still confident that Mark Chipman wanted a different name for the franchise, but it was the fans that spoke the loudest. He’s got good business sense for sure. That brings us to the next Apple parallel.
There was a lot of buzz towards the end of May when there was speculation on a purchase happening. Dates came and went but the fans kept hanging on. And then True North, in true fashion, revealed the fact they had in deed made the offer to purchase the Atlanta Thrashers franchise from the Atlanta Spirit ownership group and relocate them to Winnipeg.
Then came the speculation of all the different team names that the franchise could be called. This managed to draw out the hype of a new team coming for weeks, getting free press and media coverage. We saw it on our site when looking at common search phrases. There was a leak that the team name would be the Jets and revealed by the draft. Sure enough, it created more buzz and attention. And then like magic it was announced that our Jets were back.
But then there’s all the other stuff. What about a logo? The fans wanted a logo and most were OK to accept the logo from the team when they left in ’96. Continuing with our assumption that the team was supposed to be named something else from a merchandise and marketing perspective, there was definitely going to be a new logo. The logo speculation was drawn out for weeks. Countless contests came from it online and a lot of great designs were created. And then came that leaked photo of Jets merchandise making its way into the MTS Centre. Was it controlled? Was it an employee passionate about the team? Though we’ll likely never know for sure, it would appear as though it was almost controlled.
Why? Because TNSE had all the right things sitting around their offices for a press conference to announce the new branding. What leads us to possibly think that it was leaked, is that it got scheduled with only one-hours notice on a Friday afternoon in the middle of summer. The short notice lends itself to the controlled aspect though if you think about it. There would be fewer reporters trying to sneak a peak for the exclusive story. Again, we’ll likely never know if it was intentional or not. Much like we’ll never know if the iPhone 4 that was left in a pub was intentional.
We have hockey back in Winnipeg – that’s what we wanted.
The team will be called the Winnipeg Jets – that’s what we wanted.
We have a team logo – that’s what we wanted (though some still disagree with it).
You can’t have a team without a jersey! Surely there must be a jersey. And yes, there is. This is where True North is really controlling the release. From the outset they’ve said that nothing would be available until likely September for a design. But that hasn’t stopped fraudulent jersey sales from happening. It’s also sparked the creative side in people again. Instead of coming up with a logo, the jersey is being conceptualized in the hopes of getting something close. Every design that’s come out so far, the word from TNSE has consistently been something along the lines of “that’s not even close.”
However this week we’ve started to get glimpses into what the new jersey could look like. It started with Blake Wheeler sharing a picture of his hockey pants. As expected, they’re navy blue but they also have the fourth design on them. The wordmark without the maple leaf in it.
And just a few days later came a photo from the Winnipeg Free Press of Eric Fehr with the same Jets wordmark on his helmet coupled with navy gloves. Just yesterday Scott Brown from TNSE said in a WFP article that at the upcoming prospect camp “Jets’ prospects would be wearing practice jerseys in Penticton.”
What True North is doing is perfect business and at the end of the day, hockey is a business. They’re making you and me wait just as long for a glimpse at the new jersey as they can. We likely won’t get to see the complete Winnipeg Jets uniform until the pre-season puck drop, just 25-days away. It’s going to be painful to wait that long, but we’ve waited 15 years for this moment. In the grand scheme of things another 25 days is nothing.
And to compare Apple and True North? The Winnipeg Jets franchise is being positioned to be around for a very long time and earn significant income for the ownership group, league and city business. If you think that the Toronto Maple Leafs have a huge fan base and cult-like following, just wait a few years. Winnipeg will definitely climb up the rankings of the NHLs most profitable teams.
In the meantime, have you seen any jersey designs that you like? We’d love to see them, so leave a link below. And as a side note, we’re still working on our iPhone app. Our Android version is in the marketplace already.