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They’re Back! Now Comes the Marketing of the Rams

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Long-time Southern California residents and fans of the National Football League team, the Rams, had reason to cheer earlier this month when it was announced that the team was returning to Los Angeles where they played from 1946 to 1994.

So the team has a ready-made fan base, right? Maybe … or maybe not. Steven Chen, associate professor of marketing, addresses what it would take to market and brand the Los Angeles Rams for a new generation.

Unlike a team that comes to a new town, is there special marketing considerations for a team like the Rams returning to Los Angeles?

“The Rams would likely follow the ‘four P’s’ — pricing, promotion, product and placement/distribution — as a framework for marketing. In this case, promotion takes special emphasis,” Chen explains. “A mixture of traditional (TV, print), guerrilla (street marketing) and social media promotion is needed, but the important issue is where to promote.

“The breadth of the ‘L.A. Basin’ is large, so one key issue is: Who and where are the L.A. Rams’ customers? Are Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego residents still within the domain of L.A. Rams’ customers?”

Chen suggests reaching out to ‘exterior markets,’ including San Bernardino, San Diego counties and the San Fernando Valley, to grow their fan base.

“In recent years, the rise of location analytics — geographic information system marketing — has greatly improved sports marketers’ efficiency in defining and reaching customers in a geographic domain. Sports marketers for the L.A. Rams could use technology, such as ArcGIS, to help them define customers.”

Once defined, the Rams could do sponsorships in local markets, and brand with community events, charities, education and health programs, as well as sponsorships with athletic gear and shoe companies — which would gain equity with consumers, Chen adds.

Will such a long break, not just from a specific team but having any football team, affect how the Rams management markets the team’s return?

“The Rams will need little special management outside of what most sports teams already do (for at least the first year). People will come to games, buy products, etc., for the novelty,” he notes.

“But by year two, the Rams will have to treat the L.A. market as a completely new market. The bulk of millennial consumers will have absolutely no attachment to the team, since the Rams moved away from L.A. before they were born.

“To specifically reach younger consumers, Rams could do star visits to schools or host football youth league training camps in local markets during the offseason.”

In addition, “L.A. is a large entertainment market, where the Rams are just one entertainment option. The Kings, Lakers and Clippers also play during the same fall/winter seasons. Not to mention music concerts and other cultural events….

“So over time, the Rams will need to provide consumers with the incentive to go to their games, buy their products, etc., as opposed to devoting their resources somewhere else,” Chen says.

“Overall, there is a lot that the Rams could do, specifically in the pricing arena. But the challenge is to isolate the strategies that have the most impact. To me, the intersection of promotion and location analytics has the most potential.”

Ultimately, the best way for teams to market themselves and/or do ‘good business,’ says Chen, “is for them to be competitive.”