Saturday, February 21, 2015

Yormark credits "Brooklyn" for arena success: "Most importantly, it was free" (but now?)

Given that we now know that neither the Barclays Center nor the Brooklyn Nets are doing as well as they had in their big debut year, it's worth looking back just a few months on some more optimistic coverage.

Adweek on 9/9/14 published Brooklyn Nets Launch 'We Are Brooklyn' Campaign Will it solidify fans in the fickle borough?:
And to cement its stake in Brooklyn, the Nets are launching a multichannel campaign dubbed "We Are Brooklyn" that spans out-of-home, TV, web and social media content. New York residents and visitors might spot ads on subways, buses, taxis and MetroCards. In 2012, the "Hello Brooklyn" campaign helped launched the team as a lifestyle brand, while last year’s "Are You Ready" effort was more product-focused.
"Year three is a combination of both," [team/arena CEO] Yormark said. "Our fan base has evolved from being a little more casual to a little bit hardcore." Most of that fan base resides in the borough, and this year’s effort looks to capitalize on a growing national and global group of sports fans.
Well, that fan base has diminished.

A 9/9/14 Crain's article about Fred Mangione, promoted to be the chief operating officer Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center, cited the good news:
According to 2013 year-end reports, Barclays Center finished first in revenue and tickets sold for U.S. arenas with capacities of 15,001 or more. Attendance was up 30% from 2011-2012, the team's final season in New Jersey. And ticket revenue jumped 278%. Next, the New York Islanders will make Barclays their home, starting with the 2015 season.
"We want to maximize all the revenues we can," Mr. Mangione said.
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Yormark on TV

Also, on 9/4/14, team/arena CEO Brett Yormark spoke with Stephanie Ruhle at the Bloomberg Sports Summit. The headline: Brooklyn Is Reason for Barclays Center's Success: CEO.

The voice-over intro:
Between the New York Yankees, the New York Knicks,  the Rangers , New York City has some of the big sports franchises. They earn big money. But there is another team scoring on and off the court. The Brooklyn Nets. The team and the Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark sat down with my colleague and Market Makers anchor Stephanie Ruhle She asked him how business was doing.
Yormark was very positive: "It has been incredible. It has exceeded all of our expectations. As I often tell people, New York City is the big event business, and we are part of that big event business now in Brooklyn. That was our vision, bringing world-class entertainment to the borough. We've delivered on that, in so many ways...."



The Islanders will help

Ruhle asked about the impact of the New York Islanders, coming this fall.

"That is going to create an opportunity to be selective in our programming mix, but we're very excited because, with the volatility of the concert business, we've all benefited from the concert business being very robust for the last couple of years," stated Yormark, noting the "insurance policy" of 44 more dates.

The Brooklyn factor?

So, how does the Barclays Center compete with other arenas?

"I would love to take credit for it, but I can't," Yormark responded. "I think it is Brooklyn. People love this hip, cool factor of Brooklyn. Up-and-coming artists want to play there."

Hold on. What about cutting some good deals with musical acts?

"I was telling someone from MTV yesterday, y'know, they lost 20% of their audience from the recent VMAs [Video Music Awards] in L.A. versus what occurred in Brooklyn," Yormark said.

Yes, the VMAs in Los Angeles drew 8.3 million viewers, down from the 10.1 million who saw the Brooklyn show, but up from the 6.1 million who watched the show the previous year, according to Nielsen. The reason, apparently, was not merely "Brooklyn" but rather the presence (or lack thereof) of Miley Cyrus.

Behind the Brooklyn factor?

What was so special about Brooklyn, such a short distance from the Nets' previous home?

"We were the last in revenue in the NBA when we left New Jersey. We were in the top five last year," Yormark responded. "We were 31st in merchandise sales our last year in New Jersey. With Adidas, the key licensee in the NBA, we were number three this past season. What we did is we transformed our brand into something that truly embraced Brooklyn, brand Brooklyn. We wear it on our jersey. The architecture speaks to brand Brooklyn. Our food speaks to Brooklyn. Our employees are from Brooklyn. We've been able to embrace this incredible dynamic. Most importantly, it was free."

That recalls the August 2012 New York magazine feature article on the arena, where Will Leitch wrote:
They believe that the idea of Brooklyn itself—the Brooklyn brand, the actual word Brooklyn—has commercial power. As Yormark puts it: “I often tell people, ‘Shame on us if we do not leverage this. It comes for free. You do not have to pay for it, and to some degree we inherit it.’ From a marketer’s perspective, just the diversification of Brooklyn itself is a marketer’s dream.”
They certainly made a lot out of it, but it can only go so far.

A bigger arena?

"Now that you're built, you're there, that you've sold out, do you wish you put more seats in?" Ruhle asked. "Do you wish you were bigger?"

"No. not really," Yormark responded wisely, perhaps knowing the consistency couldn't stick.

"We hold 17,700 and change for basketball. One of the things that is great about the Barclays Center is the intimacy and the sight lines. I'm not sure we could have captured that if we went larger. Y'know what, it's always nice to have, to be sold out and create scarcity. When you look around the NBA, those last thousand or two seats are not easy to sell, and we don't necessarily have that problem right now in Brooklyn."

They have since then, and they're even lowering ticket prices in certain sections next year.

And they've gone to sites like Groupon to move concert tickets.

What's next?

Ruhle left Yormark with a softball question: "Some people say the intimacy is the best thing about the Barclays Center, others say the Brooklyn Nets are. What's in store this season?"

"I'm excited about the team. We went into a bit of a different direction," Yormark said. "We got a little younger, a little faster. I think Billy King and ownership have put together a great product."

That, actually, hasn't worked out so well.

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