The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

How My Football Team Shows Brand ‘Rules’ Are Wrong.
June 21, 2011, 6:10 am
Filed under: Comment

I support Nottingham Forest.

You could say that is my first mistake.

However, I have followed them since 1978 [when they were good] and so I’m pretty much too far gone to change sides now.

The past 20 years have been rough.

Sure, in comparison to an unemployed dad who has 3 kids to raise, it’s not been that bad – however whereas once we were the proud Kings of Europe, we’re now the poor cousins of the Midlands.

From European Champions to League 1 regulars [or old league 2] in a few decades.

No winner of a major European Cup has ended up so low in a league.

No one.

Not one.

Which is another accolade we can add to the list of disappointments.

But despite all that, I still continue to throw my money at them.

Season tickets, internet access, merchandise … and then there’s the emotional expense where I spend countless nights huddled around a computer listening to them flatter to deceive once again.

But the last couple of seasons have had their ups.

2 years ago – after scraping survival in the Championship league – we started the season by buying 9 – YES NINE – players and then shock everyone by getting into the Premiership playoffs.

Of course we fucked it up – but despite the disappointment, we were so happy not to be fighting off relegation, we all left with smiles on our faces.

Here was a team on the up.

New players … a strong and successful manager [Billy Davies] … a multi-millionaire owner … it only needed a little push and we’d finally be back in the big time.

Except that push didn’t happen.

There was big talk …

The clubs Managing Director [not the team manager] spouted off a whole list of major names on their ‘wish list’ but in the end, it seemed their wishes weren’t shared by the players because apart from 1 loanee signing, we started off the season with no one new.

And yet, despite having the rug pulled from underneath us before the league had even started, we ended the season – yet again – in a playoff position.

But this time it was different.

OK, not everything was different because yet again we lost out in the playoffs – however what was new was that this time, instead of hearing our players excited about playing for the ultimate prize, we heard news of senior and pivotal players not being offered new contracts.

Sure, you could say the club were waiting until they knew their fate before offering them, but imagine if you were a player and you didn’t know if you were going to be in a job in a few weeks … would you really care whether they achieved their goal or not?

And now here we are …

At a time where you should be excited about the players that you hear might be coming in, all we’re hearing is of players leaving because they’re sick of how the club have treated them or how we’re going after lower league transfers because ‘they’re cheaper’ or – and this blows my mind – how the club might sack the manager because despite being the most successful guy they’ve had in 12 years, his outspokeness has upset the Managing Director.

I say we hear this, but actually we only hear it from other sources because the club is saying nothing.

It’s not answering the complaints of their once loyal players.

It’s not answering the concerns they may be sacking the best manager we’ve had.

It’s not talking about their plans for the future.



I cannot tell you how angry this has made me.

I shouldn’t care … I’ve had years of being disappointed, underwhelmed and given false promises – plus at the end of the day, it’s only a game – however I do care, I love this club, it is both a pillar of where I’m from and who I am and to not even be communicated to by the people who have happily taken my money for 30+ years is a disgrace.

Being wronged is one thing, being wronged and having no one tell you sorry – or even why – is another thing all together.

If I was treated this way by anyone else I’d tell them to fuck off.

I’d never speak to them again.

I’d wish them pain, suffering and misery.

And yet I won’t.

Even though I am seeing a team that was filled with amazing potential, slowly but systematically get taken apart and replaced with shit … even though I am probably going to witness the best manager we’ve had since the genius Cloughy get fired* because the petty, bland, corporate-toady Managing Director didn’t like him … even though I am destined to another decade of gut-wrenching disappointment and failure … I’ll be there.

I’ll buy my season ticket … I’ll get up in the middle of the night to watch the games … I’ll order their merchandise …

Adland likes to talk about brand loyalty but they don’t know shit.

Someone who stays true to a brand despite having them kick you in the face over and over and over again is brand loyalty, buying Colgate fucking toothpaste when you’ve run out of it, isn’t.

Of course football is different to FMCG … sure what I am doing is sad and pathetic … but here’s the thing, why can’t a mass market consumer brand brand attract the same sort of loyalty as I have for Forest?

Bands get it.
Football teams get it.
Even some movie stars get it.
Why not an FMCG?

We have become an industry that acts as if there’s 2 World’s, the ‘real life’ version and the ‘marketing’ version and we have an attitude that they can never, ever meet.

It’s time to stop thinking and acting in this way.

I’m not denying it would be difficult for a soap powder to attract the same sort of loyalty as I have for Nottingham Forest … but by the same token, there’s people all over the World that are doing a whole heap of weird, wonderful and irrational things because of something that means a lot to them … and so if brands truly want to infiltrate into people’s lives, they need to stop putting a lid on trying new things and start comparing themselves to the extremes of loyalty, not the most passive version of it.

* Since I wrote this post, my prediction has come true and they’ve sacked Billy and replaced him with this idiot.

72 Comments so far
Leave a comment

all this post shows is youre a fucking sad bastard who has more fucking money than sense. my fucking money.

Comment by andy@cynic

Nottingham Forest thank you …

Comment by Rob

fairly decent point that ad twats should measure themselves against real life not their fucking artificial bubble bollocks where success is as difficult as a game of fucking hook a duck at some gypsy traveling roadshow.

Comment by andy@cynic

bad example, gypsies actually get you to do what the fuck they want you to do.

“buy a sprif of some lucky heather sir?”

“no? your kids will all look like chewed cashew nuts and youll die of cancer.”

thats the art of effective fucking persuasion, not some planning brief brand proposition bollocks.

Comment by andy@cynic

Best comment ever.

Don’t give a fuck about the post, soccer is shit but not as shit as nottingham forest.

Comment by Billy Whizz

most accurate fucking comment ever.

Comment by andy@cynic

Taking on the travelers? Even Arnie wouldn’t do that. Respect and condolences.

Comment by DH

I wanted to ask you what a “sprif” of lucky heather was.

I wanted to ask if it was like a sprig of lucky heather, but the next generation.

Then you go and write “your kids will all look like chewed cashew nuts and youll die of cancer” and I laughed so much that I had to let you off which is annoying, but probably quite fortuitous.

Comment by Rob

fortuitous for your fucking ugly mug not getting smacked in.

Comment by andy@cynic

not the best start for a comment to confess i havent inhaled every word of the post. was more like speeding through it. thats because i personally dont care about watching sports and all this team fan stuff. i think its weird. and other things. i think i know why people do it, but still. anyway, one word: hope
thats waht you are having. theres nothing you can do to influence anything really. so its all audience participation. see similarities between political campaigning and nottingham.

Comment by peggy

Hope might be a bit of it but it’s got to be more than just that because Forest’s history would destroy even the most optimistic fans enthusiasm for the future.

Comment by DH

get your point but i see hope more as a result. so yes, theres more to it. apart from that hope isnt rational and realistic in nature is it.

Comment by peggy

It’s definitely more than hope, it’s also a reflection of your roots, community and sense of belonging.

Comment by Pete

yeah thats what john expressed, albeit with different words. as i said in my response to DH already, hope is the result. i wasnt talking about cause and reason.

Comment by peggy

honestly who gives a fuck.

peggy got it slightly wrong because she didnt read the post properly. who the fuck can blame her, its boring as shit.

Comment by andy@cynic

thank you very much andy, but i think my comment is brilliant. as usual. even though i didnt even read the post haha

Comment by peggy

an audience of one is always easy to please. its the basis of every scam ad churned out to pick up metal at cannes.

Comment by andy@cynic

does an audience of one compare to certain entities as well? i swear it does.
you know what i give even less about than watching sports and being a fan? yeah, right, award shows celebrating um… whatever you want to call it.

Comment by peggy

and how is your audience of one theory exclusive to scam ads? or even relevant either way.

doesnt make sense to my audience of one. which is exactly me.

anyway. im off. having brilliant sleep.

Comment by peggy

sounds like you fucking need it.

Comment by andy@cynic

Hmmmmn, let’s hope this doesn’t turn into an “evolution” type of situation. Let’s all calm down people.

Comment by Rob

good point, odd example – is a supporter’s loyalty actually to the team or is it loyalty to their previous support of the team and thus to their younger self or is it loyalty to their fellow supporters. Or indeed all of the above.

Comment by john

or is that the most plannery comment I’ve ever made?

Comment by john

Yes it is John, but it’s a good one.

Comment by Pete

youre 2 fucking minutes away from turning into one of them. take your fingers off the keyboard and back the fuck away from your computer right fucking now.

Comment by andy@cynic

Freud has called and wants to know if you want a job John.

It’s a good point – a deep philosophical point that I can’t quite get my head around – but a good point and to be honest, it might be all of the above, but I would say it is heavily influenced by the persons initial relationship with their club and – to a certain extent – how their life evolves over time. I do like it though, which is scary in itself.

Comment by Rob

yoda called. he thinks youre a twat.

Comment by andy@cynic

yoda would say it differently

Comment by john

Maybe it’s just because they’re sad.

Comment by DH


Comment by andy@cynic

This sounds like a snapshot of most agencies behavior as well. Except for the unconditional love and commitment. Adland uses salaries and the threat of unemployment to keep their team of supporters in line.

Comment by DH


Comment by Pete

Like +1.

Comment by Rob

like + 2

Comment by lauren

A couple of gems in this post.

“Being wronged is one thing, being wronged and having no one tell you sorry – or even why – is another thing all together.”

“Someone who stays true to a brand despite having them kick you in the face over and over and over again is brand loyalty, buying Colgate fucking toothpaste when you’ve run out of it, isn’t.”

Great advice for brands and agencies to remember. Shame it’s from a man who supports Nottingham Forest. 😉

Comment by Pete

you had a little dig at campbell at the end there pete.

fucking learning.


Comment by andy@cynic

Yes, I noticed that too. Stop it Pete, if I lose you I have lost everyone.

Comment by Rob

I’m hanging on by a thread.

Comment by Pete

As an Aberdeen supporter – May 11th 1983 is etched in my brain and heart – I feel you’re pain (although we’ve never been relagated)
I guess one doesn’t choose one’s football team. It’s given to you when you’re born.

Comment by eaon

unless youre one of those man fucking utd supporters who lives in milton fucking keynes.

Comment by andy@cynic


Comment by eaon

There is too much undertaken in marketing that has not been clearly defined. There are too many terms banded about that have ambiguity built in. Some people may endorse this approach because they feel it provides them with protection from judgement or failure, but lack of clarity or redefining meaning just creates the illusion of success.
Good post Robert.

Comment by George

you realise the fucker never meant any of that shit to come out in this post dont you? he was just bitching about his team being shit.

Comment by andy@cynic

Throw enough shit at the wall and some is going to stick.

Comment by Billy Whizz

The illusion of success. You and John Dodds will get on famously.

Comment by Rob

just curious; have you done any research on what the definition of loyalty is these days (in society and in football, given actual attendance numbers have been declining and attending used to be seen as a defining trait of loyal supporters) ?

Comment by niko

Hi Niko …

Of course loyalty is in the eye of the beholder, however while I haven’t looked into the specific issue recently [though I have been doing quite a lot of work in football team support] what I think I am safe in saying is that it bears little resemblance to what many organisations define it as – which basically translates to, “if you bought us once, or asked for some information once, you love us”.

Comment by Rob

I enjoyed this post. Good morning.

Comment by Marcus

Hungover then?

Comment by Rob

no. not at all. How are you?

Comment by Marcus

I’m good – but I’d be better if we didn’t keep missing eachother.

Comment by Rob

I’d say I felt sympathy but I am a West Ham fan… at least you have a winning history in living memory!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

West Ham???


Comment by Rob

Most of my parents family were born there, so most of my family support them.

I do want to see Forest back in the top division though, watching Sheringham back in the first days of Sky Sports was great fun.

True story – We were stood in Radio Rentals watching the Division 2 results come in ready for the first Premiership. My dad waited until West Ham were confirmed as promoted before he dared sign the contract…

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I’m a Leeds fan. I hate Forest, and Clough in particular
Football is about mostly belonging to something – that’s very powerful when you’re young and when you’re old you want to keep that feeling
It’s no different to some fool still listening to Queen because he loved them in his formative years isn’t it?

Comment by northern

You’re right, it’s like some fool hating Clough because the team he supports had a falling out with him, even though it was before he was old enough to even know what football is.

By that reckoning, I guess you still hate Germans, coffee and those anti-pigeon communication devices called telephones.

Comment by Rob

How could anyone hate Clough? Regardless of whether you liked him as a person he worked miracles on the pitch. Forest winning in Europe twice would be the equivalent of Swansea being Premier League champions next year and beating Barcalona 3-0 in the following CL final.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I was merely illustating that football tends to be tribal and you caught up in that whether you like it or not. If you disagree, show me the Celtic supporter who has a passing regard for Rangers. Or explain to me why England games against the Germans generate so much interest.
But that’s not why I don’t like Clough. It’s because I AM old enough to remember his Forest days it and remember them well, and along with his general role as media goofball and I didn’t like him. Alex Ferguson is a great manager too, but I don’t like the way he goes about his business either (and that’s nothing to do with the Leeds connection).
Incidentally, I have a very strong opinion on Lloyd George, The Beatles and The Vietnam War and don’t see why not being around then precludes me having a point of view

Comment by northern

sucked fucking in groper.

campbells like an attorney in a john grisham movie. the one who looks like hes losing the case but at the last fucking minute gets the smug bastard in the dock to drop their calm exterior and show the jury theyre a sick evil bitter fuck who really is capable of killing 54 people and fucking all their corpses.

dont worry groper, he does it to everyone. except me. i just lamp the bastard.

Comment by andy@cynic

Good points.

It is tribal, but most fans have a knowledgable respect even for people they dislike personally or tribally.

At a recent league game on the final day, a promotion chasing team was playing a relegation fighting team. At the end the supporters were chanting to each other “You’re staying up!” “You’re going up!” …

It’s also often good natured…

I recall a friend going to see Forest vs Spurs. The Forest supporters said “Stand up if you hate Spurs” and stood up. The Spurs supporters said “Stand up if you hate Forest” and stood up. Then someone shouted “Stand up if you hate Arsenal” and everyone stood up.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

I also ordered The Code Red

Comment by northern

youd be better off ordering a fucking hitman.

Comment by andy@cynic

football, for some reasons (some described by john, rob and rob for example), is quite an important part of some peoples identity. as is nationality for others. i see similarities in concept i dont like. its not too far from panem et circenses either.

i am not saying every football fan is a nationalist or worse. i am saying that i see similarities in concept when it comes to identity construction. and as a fan its fighting without fighting. except when you are a hool. that takes audience participation to a whole new level. i could go on. but im bored of it myself.

Comment by peggy

whats tomorrows bollocks campbell, how you still pay a fucking fortune to see those wankers queen even though freddies dead and the cliche quiet bass player no one can remember the name of is throwing his millions on buying local strippers porsches or some shit all because your love for those droning fuckers knows no bounds.

not forgetting youre fucking pathetic and tone deaf proved by wanting the final fucking countdown played at your funeral, which i can arrange far fucking sooner than you thought.

you really give me something to live for. now pass me the fucking razor blades.

Comment by andy@cynic

there should be some rusty nails lying about somewhere at your end.

Comment by peggy

oh, i’m gonna sound like a twat here, but twitter has been extremely enlightening on the level of loyalty people have for football. every weekend i get to hear about it. and john’s suggestion about loyalty to your childhood relationship to the team totally resonates. the amount of times i’ve heard references to the ‘back in the day’ or ‘since i was a kid’ type stuff.. amazing. by grown men, too! 😉

i kind of get football. but with F1 (i hate michael schumacher for no good reason at all). and with rockstars. it’s like war – israel palestine is basically forest vs leeds, oasis vs blur, right?
i also think we are loyal to these things because they give us the place to hold our resentments and our competitive spirit and our territorial nature.
i hope FMCGs NEVER go down that road.

and in a way, rob, i hope forest continue to let you down and act like fucktards. i mean, who the fuck is loyal to manchester united for godsake*?

*(apart from australians and brazilians)

ps. check out age’s post on fandom – rad.

Comment by lauren

I live in salford, and I guarantee there are thousands of people here who would take great offense at their loyalty to their local team being questioned.

Comment by Rob Mortimer

oh i must have misunderstand the running joke that nobody who’s an MU season ticket holder lives anywhere near the joint.

Comment by lauren

No you haven’t misunderstood. It’s true because being the most supported team in the world, by definition you will have a higher proprtion of supporters outside the city.

It’s just that people mistake that for meaning there are no united supporters in Greater Manchester!

Comment by Rob Mortimer

ryan giggs made man utd interesting.

the fucking end.

Comment by andy@cynic

The proliferation of discount deals makes a dent in consumers’ brand loyalty. Why remain loyal when one could purchase the same good or service more cheaply? Brands need to create value for customers in order for them to remain loyal.

Comment by Carol L. Weinfeld

There is.


Comment by aaronaldo

Leave a Reply