Posted by: lmbshepard | April 29, 2012

Time to say RIP to Rip City

As I flipped through The Oregonian this morning I couldn’t help but notice a full page ad with the headline “Thank You Rip City” and a statement from the Trail Blazers. The statement outlined their disappointing season, expressed their appreciation for the fans and made promises of doing better.  I began to deconstruct the messaging and the brand imagery in the ad with our classroom discussions about the nature of strategic communications in mind.

After reading the ad I visited the Trail Blazer website where I was greeted with the same message.  I did a cursory scan of their social media sites and recent news coverage. It is clear the Blazers are embarking again on another crisis communications plan.

From the consistency in the message between channels you can guess that one of their goals must be “Restore fan loyalty through appealing to memories of the Blazers at their best.”  The statement invokes the team’s/city’s nickname “Rip City” written in the font used when the Blazers were formed in 1971 and when they won their only NBA title in 1977.

While harkening back to a successful past the statement also speaks to the future, accepting challenges, rebuilding together while only making a superficial mention of the problems in the Blazers’ front office.

This was a missed opportunity for the Blazers. Instead relying on the legacy of 42 years ago (yet again) to carry the Blazers out of their current mess, the Blazers should have focused their messaging on acknowledging their front office issues in more than just a passing fashion. If they are really interested in having fans “rediscover why we love this team” they should earn the trust of their audience back by building the next generation of this franchise rather than standing on the shoulders of giants and hoping Rip City will reign again. A good start would have been having the owner of the Blazers sign the statement.

What do you think? Missed opportunity or are the Blazers on the right track?

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