It's all about Soul
I did a quick Google news search on "Bon Jovi" and there were 471 news articles detailing the Soul's win in the ArenaBowl and JBJ's name either led the article or was within the first ten words. Do the same on David Baker's resignation and there 154 that mention his name and almost every single one also mentions Bon Jovi's name.
With Jon Bon Jovi guaranteeing a free concert to the residents of Philly because the Soul won ArenaBowl XXII 59-56 over the San Jose SaberCats this past Sunday, I got to thinking how this could be marketed to maximize exposure for the AFL and the Soul.
First, before I go into the great marketing campaign that will never be done (probably not a single item or anything close), yes I'm the SaberCats' beat writer on this site. Of course, I'm upset about the game's final outcome; but there's nothing that can be done about it now no matter what NFL Vice President of Officiating Mike Pereira officially rules after reviewing certain controversial plays late this week (just ask the Tampa Bay Storm that lost a game, as well as a playoff berth, on a play that the AFL agreed after the fact was called incorrectly). But beyond that, I love this sport and we have to make the most of the situation. That situation is that the highest-profile person in the league won a title and the AFL needs to exploit this (JBJ is too happy right now to care otherwise). Come on, there's no reason that the Soul are valued at $32 million as a team that had accomplished nothing on-the-field prior to this season/Sunday afternoon. It's all Jon Bon Jovi, maybe Ron Jaworski helped a little; but very little because of the overwhelming superstar status of JBJ will always overshadow Jaws.
Anyway, here are some quick ideas on what would be a great public relations move and marketing campaign to maximize exposure and coverage…
The concert should be in a place like Lincoln Financial Field, where the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles play, which would easily put over 100,000 people. All the entertainment TV shows, paparazzi and music experts will be there and the entire band should be wearing actual game jerseys.
It would be great if the stage would look like an AFL field with net structures behind the band, but that's a pipe dream. The ArenaBowl trophy needs to be on stage at all times during the concert. All items like the drum set should have the AFL or Soul logo on it, not the Bon Jovi or concert-tour logo.
Utilize the JumboTron or video boards at venue to show highlights of the Soul's 2008 season and promote Soul season tickets. Maybe even make up some redeemable coupons for season tickets for everyone in attendance. How awesome would it be to have an AFL team with a season-ticket waiting list?!?
Write a song about the Soul. We Got it Goin' On is a nice song, but it's not about Arena Football or his team. The original Nashville Kats (now Georgia Force) had a song that then part-owner and country star Travis Tritt wrote for the team, and the Tampa Bay Bandits of the USFL back in the mid-1980s had an awesome song written by country and movie star Jerry Reed ("first and ten, do it again, Bandit Ball").
Maybe Bon Jovi can cover or even sample from a few great songs that have the word soul in their respective titles like Billy Joel's It's all about Soul or Soul Survivor by Akon and Young Jeezy. I mean, isn't Akon pretty much on every song on the radio as a "featured artist" with singers like Gwen Stefani and T.I. anyway just like Lil' Jon use to be (yeah…okay…what)? Though there are a few words that would have to be changed in Akon's song. This is a nice way to put in the names of the players, coaches and the AFL into the song to personalize it. After, Philadelphia was the sole survivor this season. JBJ and the rest of the band could make a pop-rock version of Soul Man, since that's the team's mascot. Replace the horns with guitars.
Release the song via iTunes as a live recording with all the proceeds going to the AFL's new charity, Beyond the Boards. With American Idol's David Cook getting eleven songs in the Billboard 100 the following week after he won the reality-TV show this season, I'm sure Bon Jovi still has one or two (million or so) fans right now than Cook, so this could be very big and would be huge news in the music industry, especially if it's another of the band's long-line of catchy, pop-rock hits like most recently Have a Nice Day.
Guitarist Richie Sambora should also get a nice solo or bridge during the song. He made Bo Bice's version of Vehicle into a great-rock song with his guitar play, and it doesn't hurt that Sambora is also part owner of the team. By doing this, the Soul and AFL could use the time that JBJ is not singing to put play-by-play calls from the ArenaBowl win and the 2008 season to make a great marketing package to get ArenaBowl XXIII in Philly next year and to get more butts in seats for the regular season, playoffs and ArenaBowl (especially if the Soul is not in the game). This could also become the team's official song for introductions and after each touchdown, so it needs to have some hard rock in, like Welcome to the Jungle that the Predators use and Enter Sandman like a bunch of team use.
Re-create the ArenaBowl championship T-shirts to make the back have the 2008 schedule and make it look like a T-shirt you'd get at a Bon Jovi concert. The individual games would look like cities the band (a.k.a the Soul) played in front of with scores. Maybe the three losses the Soul had could look like cancelled or postponed dates.
Well, there are just a few that I thought of on the plane on the way home to the Bay Area. I wish I didn't have to think up these things this week especially. Oh well.
Oh, by the way; thank you David Baker for your dozen years as AFL commissioner. The league has grown so much and fast, and as a Kool-Aid drinker of this amazing sport, I am extremely sad to see you go. I was speaking with someone with the AFL during the ArenaBowl and jokingly threw out the name Paul Tagliabue, former 16-year commissioner of the NFL, as a great candidate (because to replace Baker, it needs to be someone great in name and credentials); and this unnamed individual said that Tags (as Baker calls him) probably couldn't handle the job load to promote this league to fans, corporate partners, potential & current owners, media members and pretty much any human on the planet. I thought about it for a second, and that person was right. Commissioner Baker, you will be missed a lot. Also, thanks for the world's longest sentence, the 60-word AFL mission statement, as it obviously inspires me with all these long sentences that I write. Thank you sir!
Andy Lopusnak is an 11-year AFL front office veteran, spending time with the Tampa Bay Storm, San Diego Riptide and Grand Rapids Rampage. He works as a statistician for NFL and college sports for CBS Sports and is a freelance photographer. Lopusnak received two Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of South Florida and has been a fan of ArenaBall since its inception.