Before I begin with the rant, the Stars won the game 2-1 in a well-played if not really too exciting game against Atlanta. Now, as I said in my previous post, this was my first experience at the AA Center in Dallas. A nicely designed building, almost still smelling new, it rises from the ground directly off of the freeway, where there has been an empty lot for as long as I can remember. And what, pray tell, have they decided is the purpose of this building? Basketball and hockey games? No…
Advertising. Pure and simple marketing aimed at the individuals already dedicated enought to slap down forty dollars per person to watch roughly 2 hours of professional sports. I cannot even begin to tell you how many branding attempts were made towards me over the course of the evening. Obviously, it’s the American Airlines Center. There are billboards outside of the building. Snack bars with name brand sodas and beer. But these are things that you will find around most major sport complexes (maybe even large high schools).
Where the youth of the arena made it’s capacity to deliver marketing messages clear, was when you stepped into the main room and were inundated by the large video displays (eight monitors in fact) hanging over the ice and the l.e.d. screens above and below each video monitor and the wraparound l.e.d. display that goes around the entire perimeter of the arena. This display, with or without the house lights dimmed, showered colored messages on the fans. “Make some noise.” “Goal.” “Go buy our stuff!!!”
Granted, if I were in the leadership position of any major sports team, I would want to make sure that technology was being used in the best way possible. And to that extent, they seem to have made some very good choices. I even appreciated the close relationship of American Airlines, the Dallas Morning News, and WFAA-TV when our local weatherman appeared to give everyone at the game a exclusive Stars weather report. It was probably recorded within the last 30 minutes and then rebroadcast at the arena so we would know exactly what that crazy Texas weather was going to be like come 10 o’clock.
Yet, as soon as that interlude was over, it was back to advertisements for sandwich companies, cell phone companies, media companies, electric companies (not Sesame Street though), etc. Everyone watched the game, as the advertisers were watching us watching their ads. Did everyone win? Yes, except for the Thrashers. I just hope that all participating tonight realized their exposure to all of these ideas and can separate a rational decision from brainwashing…I mean, uh,….motivated marketing.
I’m off to eat a Subway sandwich and use my AT&T cell phone while watching WFAA and using my TXU power.
Short postscript: the AA Center can seat more than 17,000 people and amazingly enough, we end up only five rows above good family friends Bert and Peggy Williams. Hope they enjoyed the game as well!