“Relax, Frank. At least you’re not the middle child.

Let us compare two disparate groups of four: sports and monsters.

For the last hundred years America has had a love affair with four sports: Baseball, Football, Basketball and Hockey. For most of those years it was in that order. I’m leaving out soccer but will come to it shortly.

There are four major monsters haunting these lands: Vampires, Zombies, Werewolves and Mummies. For most of the last 100 years it was in that order. I’m leaving out witches but will come to them shortly.

While baseball has long been considered America’s pastime, in the last 20 or so years the NFL has taken over, largely due to gambling and its colorful violence. While sports purists and old people still prefer baseball, most concede that football has passed by it like a 50-yard bomb from Tom Brady.

Ever since Bram Stoker penned Dracula, vampires have been the preferred undead, bolstered now by Twilight, True Blood and the Vampire Diaries, among others. Zombies, however, have shambled to the top of the heap, starting with George Romero’s seminal Night of the Living Dead and all that it generated, including last years ugly-faced darling, The Walking Dead.

Monster of the Midway (not Dracula)

Zombies are the new vampires. Football is the new baseball. Agreed? Then let’s move on…

In a way (granted a very odd way) the NBA is like a pack of werewolves. Sleek, fast and cool but just not as popular as the others. Both have their rabid fans but the numbers just aren’t there. Werewolves and the NBA are like middle children.

B-ball and W-wolves…

An even odder comparison would be hockey and mummies. Hockey is the fastest sport and mummies are the slowest monsters. Clearly, The two have nothing in common. Except the glaring fact that compared to the other three in their respective categories, they fall miserably short. And yes, this is a popularity contest.

So: witches and soccer…

Soccer, or European football, is without a doubt, the biggest sport in the world. Yet in America it’s basically an activity for children. I prefaced this silly article by stating an American bias. And in the US of A, soccer is barely a stepchild to the Big 4.

Witches (yawn) are random, closer to fantasy than horror, at best a default costume for every other mom on Halloween. They are not scary. Of many proof points, take Marnie the witch on True Blood. In my opinion, she all but derailed the show. And then there’s Samantha. Bewitching yes but no monster.

Cute as hell but not from Hell.

I will withdraw my paragraph comparing boxing with dinosaurs, for they are both extinct. Mixed martial arts are having a nice run. Alas, I don’t have a monster corollary for them. Demons? Aliens? Rosie O’Donnell?

Why have I written this you may rightfully ask? Well, I love sports and I love monsters. And since popular culture would be sadly bereft without either, I decided to mash ‘em together, just for the fun of it. I hope you enjoyed the exercise as much as I did. If not, you’re either a witch or someone who gets up at 3AM to watch Real Madrid play Chelsea.

Editor’s note: I ignored Frankenstein for he is one-off like the Invisible Man or table tennis.


Here come the Hawks! But for how long?

Last Sunday, the media columnist for the Chicago Tribune, Phil Rosenthal wrote a story on marketing potential for the surging Chicago Black Hawks. At the time of his writing, the Black Hawks were about to begin the finals against the Philadelphia Flyers. They are the odds on favorite to win the Stanley Cup.

For his story, Rosenthal sought my point of view. He wanted to know if I thought the Chicago Black Hawks were capable of drawing interest from advertisers and if so, how so. We had a long discussion and I was later flattered to have several of my opinions quoted in his subsequent article.

First things first. The Chicago Black Hawks are a terrific story for our city. Period. Especially given the bad to worse problems facing our other so-called professional sports teams. The Hawks are also a good story for the NHL given the team is part of the “original six” hockey franchises. And then there’s the residual excitement from the USA/Canada Gold Medal game at the Olympics, in which numerous Black Hawks played, on both sides.

However, I told Rosenthal that even if the Hawks win Lord Stanley’s Cup, come July, our town, like much of America, wouldn’t really give two shits. Hockey was, is and always will be the fourth sport in Chicago and in most of the country. Exciting as hockey is, and athletic as the players are, the sport just doesn’t fire us up. Not long term. Not really. This isn’t just my opinion. It’s the way it is. (You think Detroit is hockey crazy? If the Lions won a Super Bowl the pandemonium would be ten fold.)

Okay, so what about these Hawks? Will advertisers care? This was the fun part of my conversation with Rosenthal. Under new management, the Hawks brand is exploding. This team is young, exciting and athletic. Wearing (in my opinion) the greatest jersey in pro sports, there is a lot to like and to work with. In addition, the team itself is sporting a new slogan, which is apt and pretty awesome: “One Goal.” Thank you, Ogilvy Chicago.

But, for me, it’s no longer about the McDonald’s commercial or the Wheaties Box. That stuff is old-fashioned. And while the winning Black Hawks will get the winner’s share of it (though paltry compared to America’s more popular athletes), the keys to the kingdom are in social media, augmented reality and online gaming.

In other words, What’s the digital strategy? I was thrilled Rosenthal captured my opinions on this because, frankly, I know I’m right. These young hawks are undoubtedly all over social networks. As are countless zillions of potential young fans, male and female. How can the team leverage that? And how can advertisers play there as well? Figure that out and be the first NHL team to do it. That would be my vision for the Chicago Black Hawks. Even if the team does not win the Stanley Cup, God forbid, I think a rocking digital strategy might be the biggest prize of all.

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