“A New Era” – beyond the motto and behind the scenes of FC Dallas’ new marketing strategy

Hearing the hiring of FCD’s new VP of Marketing, Jerome Elenez, back in January piqued my interest, both as a graduate student in marketing and as a fan of the club. I wanted to know what his plans were and how we would approach the different challenges of marketing the club.

I was recently able to have a zoom call with Elenez and ask him the FC Dallas marketing questions that were gnawing on my mind. Before discussing his responses, let’s discuss some context.

Where Things Stand, Currently.

New FC Dallas VP of Marketing, Elenez says he has plans for a great future for the club by employing a high-tech marketing strategy. Over the course of his career, he has extensive experience including working with the Cowboys as well as being the Chief Marketing Officer of the Dallas Mavericks.

To set the stage, FC Dallas’ struggles connecting to its target audience through advertising have always been apparent. But the most recent promotion may have begun to turn the tide producing the joint-highest attendance of any match in the last year. A feat even more impressive given that it was not connected to an event, such as a concert or a holiday.

Data sourced from ESPN

As reflected in the data above, the ticketing promotion versus Portland was effective, and coupled with the buzz gained after Alan Velasco’s thrilling debut the week prior, led to the highest match attendance in the last year.

The ticketing promotion being at the core of the success lines up with some survey data I collected where the majority of responses in regards to memorable promotions involved discounted prices.

A New Era

“A New Era” is the mantra for Elenez’ marketing campaigns this year, “we brought in some key new players… Paul Arriola, Alan Velasco, and Nanu.” All three are important to this mantra, Alenez explained. One is a USA International, one is a rising star from Argentina, and the last is a champions league player.

“Embracing this more aggressive style of play that Nico [Estevez] has brought to this club” is what Elenez says is key to on-field success for the team.

As for the 8-point start to the season, “it feels good as a marketer that [the team is] living up to the campaign that we chose.”

Impactful Marketing

The challenges of marketing become exponentially more difficult when working under a budget, Elenez cites creativity and funneling people from awareness to consideration to conversion to be critical.

“Getting creative with our budget, our creative has to be impactful.”

“You want to build the awareness, that is what we are doing with our billboards and TV ads. All of that is good awareness-building… but you have to get down from awareness down to consideration. ‘I wouldn’t mind going to a game’ then down to conversion, and that is where that happens.”

For building awareness, he cites the billboards as the club’s “post-it-notes reminders of when the next home match is or when to tune in”.

“Spending on social media, paid social, and search. If they see an FC Dallas ad and search it, we want to be sure we are on that top search algorithm. But also got to be in front of them on Facebook, Twitter, and those kinds of mediums.”

“It all works together… it has got to be cohesive and work together”

The increased social media push Elenez mentioned is also backed up by my survey data, where many respondents mentioned seeing the promotion for the recent match versus the Timbers on social media.

The Soccer Focus

On the topic of trying to bring in fans who had not previously considered MLS when compared to other leagues, Elenez told me “It is a great time to be a soccer fan, it is a world cup year and the US is in great shape to make a considerable run.”

“For us specifically we have two players on the US Men’s National Team, with Paul and Jesus, and they’ve been killing it. So their representation of MLS, but also FC Dallas, is tremendous… That is great for us, we are trying to leverage their image as much as possible.”

“The fact that we have a lot of players from South America on our squad, that’s gonna help us attract some of those fans”

As with most of the rest of DFW, Elenez is hopeful that the MetroPlex bid to host World Cup matches in 2026 to be successful.

Things to be Excited for at Toyota Stadium

The atmosphere created by the supporters’ groups is also a key part that he hopes will keep such fans coming back to the stadium for matches.

A challenge Elenez faces in marketing FC Dallas when compared to his previous projects with the Mavericks is the lack of “timeouts – no content to fill – makes engagement with the fans in the stadium more difficult.” He is, however, excited to overcome those challenges with more installations across the stadium.

Coming to Toyota Stadium this weekend for the match against Colorado Rapids will be two new installations the club hopes will dazzle fans.

This Saturday will be the unveiling of a new FC Dallas Mural, which can be activated via a smartphone and turned into a live mural. Another exciting addition will be a new Virtual Reality experience, which will put a fan virtually on the pitch with FC Dallas players.

May 7th will see “[FC Dallas] be the first professional sports team in the metroplex to host a drone show.”

And, Elenez says, the July 4th match will have a pre-party with food trucks, beverages for kids and adults, and games for people to play before the match.

“We are installing a 30-foot shield on the north end that will have some interaction before the game and during goals scored”

Mr. Elenez’ strong past experiences and current attention to the fans should continue to be seen in the club’s marketing efforts.

Jerome Elenez with El Matador
Jerome Elenez (2nd from left standing) with members of El Matador.

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