By Ashley Scoby
The Detroit Lions’ recent marketing slogans – “Defend the Den,” “One Pride” – have had more to do with actual lions, rather than the city of Detroit.
The Pistons, who play their basketball 45 minutes outside downtown Detroit, unleashed a marketing campaign before this season that connected the team to the city. Popular characteristics of Detroit – “heart,” “hustle,” etc – are used to describe the team, and their pregame video shows documentary-style footage of the city.
And now with new leaders within their own marketing department, the Lions hope to make a similar connection between their franchise and the rebirth of Detroit. Since the hiring of new general manager Bob Quinn, the organization also promoted Kelly Kozole to vice president of business development. She’ll oversee all levels of sales, including tickets and sponsorships.
“One of the things is we have to compete both on the field and off the field with all the other teams,” Lions president Rod Wood told reporters, according to the Detroit News. “We need revenue to do that. I really wanted to consolidate all the sales functions under one person. … Now, everything reports up to Kelly, so hopefully we can have a more coordinated effort on all of our sales and bring in somebody maybe that’s going to help us on the branding side.”
Part of that branding goal will include making a stronger connection between the NFL team and the city that houses it. Detroit has been clawing its way up from the bottom – bankruptcy – and is standing on more stable ground now. More and more construction is starting downtown, and despite continued financial issues in some sectors (such as with the Detroit Public School system), the city is rebuilding.
Wood wants the Lions to be a part of that continued climb.
“Keep those taglines, but build more around the whole city’s rebirth,” Wood told reporters, referring to the ‘Defend the Den’ and ‘One Pride’ phrases. “When we started that it was when Detroit was kind of on its knees. We were going to be part of hopefully the rebirth. I think we still are and that’s continually, so we want to kind of take it now to the next level.”
One way the Lions perhaps aren’t helping the city’s rebirth was the organization’s recent decision to raise season ticket prices again. The increase was heralded as a “modest” one. Increasing revenue is a goal of the organization, something that will likely be made easier once a competitive team is put on the field.
The Lions’ value is less than half that of the top team in the NFL (the Cowboys, worth $4 billion), according to Forbes. They made $298 million in revenue in 2014, which could probably sustain several small countries. But in terms of NFL revenue, it’s on the low end. Dallas collected $620 million, for example, and small-market Green Bay made $347 million in revenue the same season, according to Forbes.