The proverbial cat is out of the bag. The Blue Jackets have announced their new slogan (thankfully retiring the “Gotta See it Live” tagline of the past two years) and have introduced “Join the Battle”.
Keeping with our rich CBJ history as fans, much debate ensued over if this was “good enough” or “better” than what CBJ have marketed in the past. Which to me, shows we can’t wait for some real hockey action to start, but, that aside, I believe that this new tagline is a great next step for an organization that might finally, finally be ready to turn the corner.
When I first had the privilege to see this logo, my immediate reaction was relief. “They get it”. I thought. As articulated by my fellow CBJ fan, Ken, during our conversations, the most important thing happening here is that this is a call to action – much like “Carry the Flag” (which isn’t going anywhere, by the way). The CBJ are recognizing that it takes many aspects of a professional team to build success. Trying to get fans in the seats (ahem, Gotta See…well never mind), isn’t enough. It shows the fans are part of this experience and that we want commited, engaged fans who are pulling for this team in the community and in the arena.
What appeals to me as well with this new campaign is that its finally a holistic response to what I see a lot of us, the fans, get frustrated about. What do I see raise the hackles more quickly than anything?
- Say Columbus isn’t a hockey market
- Say Columbus isn’t a good place to live or play in general
- Say the players don’t play here
- Say that the organization – or parts therein – don’t know what they are doing
- Say that the Blue Jackets will never be a playoff contender
Join the battle, (or #JTB as I’m sure we’ll see) addresses all of this. It gives us a rallying cry in response to all of these critiques – all while echoing the history of the civil war Blue Jacket that has infused our branding since day one. You see, many of us have felt like we’re battling misconceptions of our town and our team. Many of us feel like maybe all parts of CBJ land aren’t giving 100% to be the best. So here it is – crystallized. Fans, Leadership, players, trainers, scouts, NHL – its time to join the battle. It’s time to no longer accept what’s been going on and fight – hard – for the success that we want to achieve. No one is off the hook.
What’s also important here? For the first time, I think that the Blue Jackets are recognizing where we are. the 2011-12 season was a tremendous & painful crossroads – the end of the Rick Nash era, the last place finish in the NHL, fan protests,unbelievable injuries, trade success and failure, draft lottery misfires – as many have said, it was the season that if something was going to wrong, it would. Join the Battle doesn’t sweep that under the rug. It’s not “hey! Come buy tickets!” it’s “We have work to do”. Many say you can not move forward if you don’t learn from the failures of your past. Perhaps we are finally getting ready to do that.
I also think its important to address the military implications with this phrase. We have seen in professional sports the ire that is raised when someone too closely aligns their job to “war” or “being soldiers” in today’s climate. I agree that it is important to never slight the tremendous importance of what is happening in the real world, but again, as I mentioned above, this team is founded on a history of spreading knowledge about the tradition of Ohio and the civil war. We have a cannon in our arena. As long as the CBJ marketing team ties their vision to this tradition, I am hopeful that we will continue to respect Blue Jackets without encroaching on themes and traditions that outweigh hockey any day.
The job of a marketer is a tough one. Trying to distill 100 different messages to many different audiences into three words is a challenging one to be sure. But in this case, I think that the CBJ have done a great job. Some of you may continue to have your gripes. That is fine. As we’ve shown as a fan community, amazing folks like Tom can give us additional calls to action such as “Call to Arms” (which I still watch, by the way). But, regardless, if this only adds to the list of what you are frustrated about, or if you see it as a step in the right direction, at least its change and that is something we’ve known we needed for a while now. Even if this is just a change in marketing – its the message that drives what will be done. And its a beginning…
Join the Battle. I have.