you stole the iceland chant?

Don’t actually steal the Iceland chant. You’re better than that and it’s not authentic to your brand, so it wouldn’t make any sense. But, steal the idea. I’m all for that. One of my former bosses once encouraged me to cast ego aside and embrace the adoption of a competitor’s ideas. With one stipulation…make it better. I’ve always kept that with me and I fully embrace it.

As does the Iceland soccer federation apparently. It turns out the “thunder clap” and “huh” chant combination that earned the country national media attention during the 2016 Euro Cup, is not actually native to Iceland. It was actually inspired by fans of a Scottish club called Motherwell. The Icelandic federation has since adopted and embraced it. Kudos.

But, what I love more than anything about the chant is the fact that it involves the entire crowd. I can’t tell you how tired I am of seeing chants only executed by the student section. Part of that is the fault of the non-student contingent, which has apparently lost the passion for life and song. But the real blame goes to the school, which does nothing to create stadium-wide engagement. WHAT IF schools focused on fan focused chants rather than helmet race videos? WHAT IF schools emphasized and empowered the cheer team? WHAT IF schools hired a professional staff whose sole job was to curate a one of a kind (brand-right) atmosphere?

you bought real estate?

Being an out-of-towner can be tough for anyone. But for an Ohio State fan visiting Ann Arbor, Michigan, it must be down right terrible.  But WHAT IF Ohio State University bought real estate on Michigan’s campus to house or host their alumni during road trips to the Big House? Such a move would give OSU fans a safe place to tailgate among the hordes of maize and blue. When an away team travels well it makes an impression on current players, potential recruits and media. It also makes for great TV, giving the viewers at home a look at the strength of the brand. WHAT IF you made road trips more comfortable for your alumni by buying real estate on and around your rival’s campus?

your sideline had style?

Look good. Feel good. Coach good? Why not? Confidence is confidence, and if looking good on the sideline puts a little pep in your coaching staff’s step, then what do you have to lose? Nothing. All gains. But, regardless of the existence (or lack there of) of a performance benefit, putting your coaching staff in noteworthy apparel and footwear is a brand marketing opportunity. And it’s one few schools are taking advantage of, opening the door to potential earned media and an immediate point of differentiation. Your coaching staff members are walking, talking billboards just as much as your players. Use them. WHAT IF your coaching staff wore throwback apparel and footwear during retro uniform games? WHAT IF you collaborated with well-known designers or sneaker shops to create custom coaching gear?  WHAT IF you brought in style and culture magazines to cover your coaching staff’s gear week to week?

you covered your walls?

Every empty wall is a metaphorical marketing canvas to tell a brand story. Unfortunately, few schools use them in such a way. The most blatant miss being inside sports stadiums. Unless, as a fan, you’re fortunate enough to have a box seat or are sitting in a corporate suite, you’re typically subjected to wall-to-wall concrete that feels more like the underside of a bridge than a stadium. While fans are waiting in line for a $10 hot dog, they need something to look at. Something to read. With the majority of stadiums missing network connections, their phones are essentially useless. Unfortunately, so are the insides of most of the stadiums in their current form. Change that. WHAT IF you turned the inside of your stadium into a museum? WHAT IF your walls were filled with team relics? Jerseys of former greats. Game used balls from historic wins. One of your biggest opportunities is to tell stories to your youngest and most impressionable fans. Give them something to look at, fall in love with, and remember. Something besides that hot dog.

you bought their billboards?

The media loves a good rivalry. Don King loves a good rivalry. Twitter LOVES a good rivalry. The reality is, we all love a good rivalry. Whether we’re talking about Ali vs Frazier, Red Sox vs Yankees, or USC vs UCLA, we eat it up. But, like King himself taught us, sometimes we have to create a rivalry where one doesn’t exist. All that takes is a little stirring of the pot. WHAT IF you put up branded billboards in your rivals hometown? WHAT IF you bought ads in your rivals local paper? Give the media something to talk about. Take the story to them.