I laid out an eight-point marketing plan for the WNBA, which has made half-hearted attempts throughout the years that have never been aggressive enough, and have always fallen short. I said the league needs to: own its players and their identities, educate the public about the women’s game, publicize any piece that is written about a team or its players, create active public presences for coaches, host offseason fan events, have offseason and preseason exhibition games, and enlist the help of the fan base in each city for marketing ideas.
But here we are, 2.5 months after the season’s end, and the only significant noise about the WNBA was last month when former NBA player Gilbert Arenas insulted the WNBA and its athletes. The league came to its own defense, as did some of the players. Completely reactive and not proactive.
Contrast that with the NBA, which begins promoting itself the day after the National Champion is crowned, and the problem is apparent. For those who have followed the WNBA since it began in 1997, frustration with its lack of self-promotion is at an all-time high. They could/should be doing so many things right now, and they’re not doing a damned one of them.
After I tweeted some of these same thoughts this morning – and got an avalanche of supportive response – I thought of one more way the league could increase its visibility: send reps of teams to local high school basketball games. Get the name in front of fans, coaches and players. Offer team ticket packages; invite teams to basketball clinics. But that’s not happening, either.
I have a Los Angeles Sparks jacket I rescued from the lost and found at school a couple years ago. Before I left the house today, I put it on as a kind of test. The first business I walked into, a 30-ish man with two young kids was leaving as I was coming in. As we passed he said, “go Sparks.” I turned around and he smiled.
It wouldn’t be that hard to create more fans. There are plenty out there already. You just don’t hear much from them, nor do they have team gear (another marketing goal: distributing clothing and gear with the local team’s logo).
Why won’t the WNBA promote and market itself? They can’t wait around to be discovered; they have to aggressively tackle the task.
So why aren’t they?
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