This morning the Jacksonville Jaguars held a press conference to formally announce they will hold home games at London's Wembley Stadium during the 2013-16 seasons. Much like this year's season of 'Hard Knocks', it seems this was an opportunity almost no teams wanted, yet for the Jaguars, an organization used to tarping off seats, and experiencing general apathy it was a good move to generate some much needed buzz.
With all due respect to our UK readers (I'm talking to you Oldham and Limey), it's a wise decision by the Panthers to remain insular, and keep building their brand at home. The UK market has long been the golden goose, and Jacksonville are likely to learn what every other organization playing there has– playing in London doesn't mean gaining a London fanbase.
I am floored that it's 2012, with all the technological tools we have at our disposal to follow sports, and yet there's this quaint notion that simply by being in proximity will immediately win over fans. Quite frankly, I think it's insulting to intelligent NFL fans abroad that they'd be won over with so little effort. In 2011 English Premier League side Everton toured the United States, playing in as many cities as they could. The result: Nobody over here magically became Everton fans. If you were already an American EPL fan you already had a club, and may have gone to the game as a curiosity.
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Ryan Kalil advertisement aside, the Carolina Panthers remain abhorrent of such attention seeking behavior. JR isn't going to have this team on Hard Knocks anytime soon, and the idea of him putting the team on a plane bound for Heathrow is equally comical. After all, the Miami Dolphins preseason game marked the 92nd consecutive sellout at Bank of Amercia Stadium, and it has been a decade since there was a game blacked out– even during the doldrums of 2010 the team endured.
There is definitely more for the Panthers to do from a marketing standpoint. A greater presense in Eastern Carolina, combined with correcting the woeful TV issues in parts of South Carolina (which cause some fans to get Falcons games) will work wonders to increase the organization's influence.
More power to the Jaguars, but I hope they don't expect this will magically transform their teal into a gobal brand. Maybe it's just me, but I would have thought the time and effort to play in London would have been better spent in North Florida, but I'll leave it up to smarter businessmen than I to see the long-term impact of playing in England.