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Brand Power... we suck!

By Jamie Rowland :  20/07/2009 :  Comments (31) :
On Sunday, I took the lad to the ‘Build-a-Bear’ shop. It is a novelty concept by where you pick a teddy bear ‘skin’, have it stuffed in front of your eyes and then add clothes of your choice. The cost is out of this world but the concept is excellent. He wanted one and had saved for it so I took him along. When the teddy was stuffed, we proceeded to the shelves of different clothes that fit the teddy.

On the racks, in Liverpool One (I might add), were karate kits, ballroom suits, army uniforms etc… and then… to my horror, Man Utd kits, Chelsea kits and Liverpool kits. Where, I asked, are the Everton kits. After all we are in the city of Liverpool? The kind assistant informed me that they didn’t stock Everton kits for two reasons. Firstly, there isn’t the national demand for them and secondly Everton FC would not allow the ‘Build-a-Bear’ chain to purchase the rights to produce the Everton kit. She went on to tell me that instead, I could buy a blue kit (with a non-descript badge) and then buy a pin badge from the Everton 2 shop. This was my only alternative. I bought him an army uniform.

Dismayed and disappointed, I tussled with the problem as I walked into SoccerDirect.com’s store. Again, to my amazement, on the vast array of shelves, there were Barcelona shirts, Man Utd shirts, Man City shirts and Chelsea shirts. There was also racks and displays covered in Chelesa, Man Utd and Liverpool merchandise (even lucky bags!). I posed the same question. The response this time was a little better to swallow but equally as frustrating. The assistant told me that Everton would not sell any rights to SoccerDirect.com. The only way they could legally sell any Everton merchandise is when it was seen as surplus or ‘out-of-date’. In bemusement, I shrugged my shoulders and the assistant agreed that it was incredible.

Narrative over.... The point here is that we seem to miss the boat year on year. Understandably we are not going to be a global brand overnight. We haven’t won a league, a trophy or even featured in the Champions League (not the qualifiers). However, we are still missing the objective when we can’t even promote a brand properly in our region. I had hoped that the retail agreement with JJB would go some way towards world domination but we have packed that up. In fairness to JJB, I had seen Everton shirts on sale all over the country, putting our brand amongst the top four. This can only ever lead to an increase in recognition.

Now we are with Kitbag, we do have a global presence on the internet (although I am yet to click onto Kitbag and see Everton on the homepage – Utd, on the other hand, are always on feature). That internet presence is neither here nor there though. The top four do so well because they appeal to people who want to follow football and want to adopt a team. Their merchandise is easy to obtain and their shirts easy to buy. Thus, it becomes easier to armchair support those teams (probably why our neighbours have a 750,000 recorded fanbase).

Take nothing away from those fans — they are all money generators and they cost the club a much smaller amount than avid fans (stating that match goers cost the club something — a seat, heating, electricity etc — even though they are compensated). Trawling the net, you wont find any Everton merchandise for sale that is connected with the club (a lot of contraband but nothing official).

We have missed opportunities. Just when we were developing a fan base, a shirt strategy (one a year) and a nationwide presence… we pull back. We pull back to two shops — both in the city of Liverpool. You can argue that Liverpool FC only have the same but don’t forget that they do sell their rights to all and sundry and the result is a bigger turnover and bigger fortune. So why have we removed the opportunity for a fan in London to purchase a shirt, try it on for size and have his name put on it? (he can buy from the net, but he could risk the shirt not fitting properly).

Even fans on the Wirral (shopping in Birkenhead), North Wales, Chester etc are unable to buy on a whim. I just can’t help but feel that the club is missing out massively on revenue it so clearly needs.

I refer you back to two articles I wrote last season. Both were inspired by my fiancée. In the first article she asked ‘who do Everton have?’ because she hadn’t heard of ANY Everton players, whereas she could name two or three Liverpool players (for whatever reason, usually their WAG — Do any Everton players have high profiles enough for the tabloids to even follow their WAGs?).

The second article was a bit more upbeat. She could then name an Everton player and the market stall in Huyton was full of cheap Everton flags. Sadly, the status quo has been restored. The market stall sells very little in the way of Everton merchandise and my fiancée thinks we are shit.

Why the changes? Everton Football Club simply does not put itself out there enough. You have to stand up to be noticed and we seem to be firmly rooted to our seats…

Reader Comments

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Shaun Sparke
1   Posted 20/07/2009 at 16:54:53

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I take your point Jamie, but surely you could come up with a better gift for a lad of 18!
Mike McLean
2   Posted 20/07/2009 at 16:56:04

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The most prestigious shopping area in Chester (quite a wealthy city), is Eastgate Street. Everton used to have a shop there on a short term lease.

Guess what? It’s now an LFC shop on a long term lease.

Chester has many, many good Evertonians, but perhaps like their Scouse counterparts, they don’t part easily with their dosh, and as much as the Club may be at fault in the marketing area, fans might also like to take a look at themselves.
Alan Kirwin
3   Posted 20/07/2009 at 17:16:57

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I have read some nonsense here on TW, but this article wins the award by a country mile. Never have I read such a pathetic, ill conceived stream of pap as that which beholds above.

Everton recently signed the most successful merchandising deal in its history, again by a country mile. It has transformed its merchandising operation and has, by universal acclaim, listened to fans as well as sorting out a poor legacy in this area.

Part of this even included an excellent new store, refurbishment of the existing "mega" store and an excellent online shop.

Sort your life out will you Jamie. Rarely has so many words been assembled in support of something so arse-wipingly trivial as this. And please don’t refer us to articles you wrote inspired by your fiance. Better advice is, if you don’t have anything interesting to say, don’t bother.

Fucking build-your-own-bears my arse.
David Alexander
4   Posted 20/07/2009 at 17:55:35

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The answer, Jamie, is is the title: it's all about brand power — we don't have it because we don't finish in the top four and are not from London. And if you don't have brand power, people won't want want to put your kit on a teddy bear. Which isn't necessarily Everton’s fault. They have a new deal with Kitbag and it will take time to change these things. We have a new store, a refurbed store a decent online shop and a retail partner who seem interested in doing more.
James Bowman
5   Posted 20/07/2009 at 18:14:57

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I do take your point Jamie, as an Evertonian living outside of Liverpool, I have more chance of buying a Real Madrid shirt than an Everton one. Although this was the same for Chelsea before the Russian, so I guess its about success and high profile players... yep, still need that billionaire!
Wes Burgin
6   Posted 20/07/2009 at 18:39:51

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I’m pleased our shirts etc aren’t on sale in Sports Direct.

The shops are hideous — overstocked with cheap Lonsdale tat and full of scrunchie wearing chavs.

Colin Ryan
7   Posted 20/07/2009 at 19:05:30

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Am I picking this up wrong or can the jersey only be bought online or in one of the 2 shops in Liverpool? Living in Ireland, I haven’t seen the jersey stocked anywhere yet! And before anyone tells me to buy it online, I'd rather be able to try on first before handing over my €60! Anyone know when the away jersey is getting released? And am I the only one that thinks it looks alright? In fairness, the new online store looks very impressive.
Rupert Sullivan
8   Posted 20/07/2009 at 19:33:51

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Jamie — I agree with you 100%. Whether buying a bear or anything else, I think Everton FC manage their brand very poorly indeed.

I agree that the top four are bound to sell more gear because they have higher visibility, but EFC managed to miss the opportunity to become the biggest premier league team in Australia (playing on the Tim Cahill brand) and instead piss off to America — where they don’t even know what football is!!

Their marketing department is rubbish, and to not allow your rights to a teddy bear company for shirts is pathetic — it is not as if you cannot limit the rights they have and it might just increase in passing trade. But let’s face it, you cannot have ’passing trade’ if there is nothing to buy when you pass.

A good article mate, and a good point.
Alan Chadwick
9   Posted 20/07/2009 at 21:08:15

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So a letter writer called Rupert agrees about the bear... Tee-hee!

PS - my middle name is Charles, so I’m in no way taking the proverbial out of your posh name Mr Sullivan.

It’s a decent article in as much as it demonstrates that commercial progress is one huge step (taken) followed by lots of other small ones.
Chris Jones
10   Posted 20/07/2009 at 22:35:57

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Before slagging off the club for not being able to build a bear in club colours, did it it occur to you there might be a good reason why EFC withheld permission?

I had a look on Kitbag earlier and, apart from being shocked at the amount of stuff you CAN get with EFC on it (coat-hangers and tape measures ffs!), I noticed you CAN get the ubiquitous ’Beany Bear’ in an EFC strip.

Might it just be that the contractual details that made that bit of licensing possible precludes EFC licensing any other bears?

Let’s face it, Beany might be paying a premium to EFC for sole rights in the ursine field and, unless Steiff themselves made us a better offer, perhaps it is ADVANTAGEOUS TO EFC to deny anyone else the same rights.

To borrow a soundbite from another fury mammal, "Simples!".
Jamie Rowland
11   Posted 20/07/2009 at 23:09:09

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Evidently, Mr Jones, you missed my point. (For info, LFC also produce a Beany Bear.)

The point here is "simples!" but some of you seemed to have wandered off it. The Build-a-Bear narrative was just an example to get to the point — the point which was that Everton are just not a large brand. Perhaps this is not owing to bad management. Perhaps it's even a conspiracy by the board to not exploit opportunities, so that they can present them as ’unexplored’ revenues that need money from a billionaire to set in motion... but then the conspiracy theorists can articulate around that.

My point was that we, as a club, don't put ourselves out there enough. Even Tottenham have a better reach than us (anyone looked in those catalogues that get posted through your door — they do personalised pens etc... and personalised pictures of White Hart Lane...).

My point is that, given our financial situation that many of us are compelled to complain about, you would think that the Goodison management would want to exploit every avenue. However, clearly they do not.

Alan Kirwin — when you are commenting next time, vent off more steam. I have an opinion and I’m allowed to express it. To attempt to insult my intelligence is the kind of thing I would expect from an 8-year-old.

A Kitbag deal (the biggest in our history) is still obviously, as other posts here illustrate, not enough. The internet is no good when you want the experience. The internet service does not push towards buying other goods (that are on display at the counter — such as keyrings, stickers etc that have the highest margin). The internet can’t deliver immediately. The internet can’t have a queue outside waiting for the grand opening.

True, we have two fabulous shops and a partnership with a good internet resource. But it doesn’t put our logo in the faces of consumers as they pass a sports shop. The JJB in the trafford centre, Birkenhead, Cheshire oaks all have two distinctive window displays — one for Utd and one for Liverpool. Their presence is there for all to see, whether they like it or not. The neutrals, wanting a shirt, the tourists wanting a shirt, are not seeing the colours of Everton.

Kitbag haven’t given us a state-of-the-art website at all — they have just rebranded the old one. Dont argue with me on this, I have produced a lot of websites in my time. The technology behind the new online store is no more advanced than a simple BT online shop or an EKMpowershop.

So my point isn’t nonsense at all and it saddens me that people feel the need to criticise my point of view so heavily (using language that is somewhat uncalled for).

Last but not least Alan, what did you mean by ’most successful retail deal in our history’ — it hasn’t yet proved to be a success and the £32m quoted is nothing more than a forecast. I don't doubt that the partnership will prove fruitful. I am merely suggesting that a bit of extra marketing and brand presence could do wonders for our finances...

Ill-conceived stream of pap as that which beholds above indeed... if you have nothing constructive to say Alan, then don't bother.

Ed Fitzgerald
12   Posted 20/07/2009 at 23:48:54

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Our biggest marketing ploy would be to win a trophy playing attractive football — this would fuel the demand for more Everton related products. To be fair the marketing is a lot better than it was 12 months ago Jamie.

Why are you so bothered about your woman's opinion of us?
Chris Jones
13   Posted 20/07/2009 at 23:58:31

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Jamie, merchandising does not exist in a vacuum. We haven’t got Liverpool’s trophy cabinet to back us up in negotiations with the likes of Beany Bears. And picking up on Ed’s point above, I suspect once we start winning things (and we will), companies will be beating a path to our door asking to put EFC’s name on more things than we can think of. Until then it will be a slog.

Yes, I know some clubs with less success than us have perhaps a greater reach, but there will be many things at play, and not all of them within our club’s control.

Why do some people on here think that things being less than perfect necessarily leads to the conclusion that our club’s management are materially culpable - i.e. it is solely down to their lack of acumen, or bloody mindedness, rather than other factors?
Jimmy Hacking
14   Posted 21/07/2009 at 00:36:52

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I enjoyed reading this article (and agree the Build-a-Bear shops are a bloody rip-off) but having always lived in Manchester, and being the sort of sad-sack who is always wandering around cavernous sport emporiums on wet Sunday afternoons, I have never felt the club to be "unfairly" under-represented in terms of merchandise. Every JJB etc. I have ever visited in this rainy city has always stocked Everton home and away shirts, displayed fairly prominently, with actually MORE shelf space than the likes of Spurs and Villa.

If you want to find, say, a Blackburn or Bolton shirt (and bear in mind that these clubs are obviously closer to Manchester), you can forget it. And I've never seen a Burnley shirt on sale in my life.

Finding the official Everton calender in Scumchester every Christmas is also always a piece of piss, so frankly we probably DO get the sort of merchandising representation a club of our size deserves. Anyone who things we are in a position to compete with the Sky 4 on this issue is frankly insane.
Brian Baker
15   Posted 21/07/2009 at 09:27:43

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You will know when the Everton brand has ’arrived’ — when counterfiet shirts start appearing on market stalls, produced in 3rd world sweatshops.
Tony Williams
16   Posted 21/07/2009 at 09:36:41

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Jimmy, you are obviously lying... you must be. I mean evidence like that goes against the attack on anything Everton... how very dare you?

It seems that the needs of the one outweigh the needs of the many on these subjects, I have never heard of Build-a-Bear and I think it is an incredibly shit idea. Why would you pay massively over the odds when you can get the finished article from the Everton internet store?

I agree with the sentiment from Colin about trying the shirts on, but the shirts do have a measurement chart on the site so you should be able to get a size that fits; if in doubt, get two shirts and send one back, it is usually free to send them back isn’t it?
Patty Beesley
17   Posted 21/07/2009 at 10:15:14

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Get rid of the fiancee if she thinks we are shit!!!
Karl Masters
18   Posted 21/07/2009 at 11:06:59

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100% agree with you Jamie.

Alan Kirwin - been on the chilled Rose again, have we? :) Your remarks are OTT and out of order.

I live down South in Kent and can assure you that Everton’s marketing does not stretch this far, although we were occasionally in JBB in the past. Kitbag may be an improvement, but we appear to have become even more invisible in some ways, being limited to 2 shops and a website.

What I find particularly galling reading some of the above is that it seems Chelsea shirts are on sale in the middle of Liverpool! How the hell can there be a market for them or are young Scouse kids going soft in the head? There is not a more odious bunch of supporters than Chelsea’s (and some of my best friends support Chelsea, but it’s still true) and if you had the displeasure of sitting near some of them at Wembley listening to their vile, anti-Scouse ’humour’, you would agree.

Both my daughters love Build-a Bear by the way and one is into Everton with lots of teddies etc and would want one if it was available.
Michael Bates
19   Posted 21/07/2009 at 11:40:09

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I agree, this situation is terrible.

Come on fellers! There is bound to have been research done as to what sort of national demand there is for our kits/merchandise. If there wasn't, the risk of being grossly over-stocked (wasting resources on stock that will never be sold) or grossly under-stocked (leaving people like you and me pissed off when there is no shirts left etc.) is massive.

Just because we sell rights to our merchandise, and send hundreds of thousands more kits out around the country/world DOESN'T mean we would sell them. Our brand power comes first and foremost from results on the pitch. Once our reputation builds on there, and DEMAND for our merchandise increases, then you will start to see us in more stores.

It's quite simple really.
Ciaran Duff
20   Posted 21/07/2009 at 12:28:57

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As far as I can see, the club are starting to get their act together in the marketing dept. Not sure whether it's related to Robert Elstone or not but they are starting to address a number of issues that people have raised (eg City Centre store, better on-line shop, cheaper overseas shipping). Another one recently added is a travel wear deal with Sergio Tacchini brand:-

http://www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/everton-fc/everton-fc-news/2009/07/20/everton-fc-strike-travel-wear-deal-with-sergio-tacchini-brand-100252-24195808/
Adam Carey
21   Posted 21/07/2009 at 12:35:13

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I agree with Jamie here. I live in Surrey and recently, while out shopping with my lad of five, stopped at a Martin’s store (kind of a smaller WHSmith), and they had these silly water bottle holders in the shape of a football shirt. My lad wanted one, and there wasn’t one for Everton so I talked him out of it.

My point is that, while I can probably find one online, the ’impulse buy’ element is gone and my lad lost interest. The younger kids (and future fans), don’t shop online, and see the Man Utd/Liverpool/Chelsea merchandise everywhere.

David Alexander
22   Posted 21/07/2009 at 12:49:00

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Jamie, Are you seriously suggesting the owners of EFC are deliberately running the merchandising badly because it will help them to sell the club? Complete and utter rubbish. I think in this case its not just the bears with only stuffing between the ears...
Jamie Rowland
23   Posted 21/07/2009 at 13:53:19

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David Alexander — I'm not saying that at all... just attempting to wind up the conspiracy theorists with my few lines (in my reply to a certain person's post/comments). However, if you were a conspiracist, you could think that every avenue not explored is an avenue that a potential buyer could be attracted to...perhaps. It was merely a suggestion.

My own opinion on the situation is that we simply do not put ourselves out there enough. with JJB now not involved, we barely stretch outside of our city. That may be because someone has conducted some fancy research that shows it's not viable to provide outside of the city boundaries... but I can’t see why other clubs' marketing have decided otherwise (pick up your missus a Great Universal catalogue and have a look at the Football Shirts section... you can buy Newcastle shirts and they are a million miles from being a top 4 side).

So the reasoning behind why they don't market extensively outside of Merseyside is up for debate. I doubt, as do you, that the conspiracy theory is even remotely true... but when you read some of the comments people write about BK, it could be conceivable to them!

Matthew Mackey
24   Posted 21/07/2009 at 13:30:46

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From Alan Kirwin;- "I have read some nonsense here on TW... Fucking build-your-own-bears my arse."



Bleedin' 'el, Al ... Cheer up!.... Somebody stuck a rocket under your arse today?!

If we shoot all the TW contributors, we won’t have anything to complain about! Poor old Jamie...
Kevin Jones
25   Posted 21/07/2009 at 14:54:18

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My God I’ve heard everything now. Can’t get an Everton kit for my teddy bear. The mind boggles...
Alan Kirwin
26   Posted 21/07/2009 at 18:47:27

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Karl, Matthew - absolutely fair dinkum, not sure where that came from and well over the top.

I hold to the gist I have to say, but I ran out of chilled rose wine couple of days before. A situation which has mercifully now been rectified.

Jamie - apologies for any offence old todge. Still think this is all very silly, but calm down & carry on, as they say. Really sorry about your bear. Your fiance must have you on 30 days notice by now..... :)
Jamie Rowland
27   Posted 22/07/2009 at 10:02:04

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Alan — no worries. And I am not yet on 30 days — although she does have my birth certificate....

Everyone — THE BEAR WAS AN EXAMPLE of how other clubs exploit every possible money-making opportunity... and Everton don’t seem to. Surely if it is viable for those teams to market in this way, it must also be viable for Everton to market this way?

In this article, I am trying (obviously failing) to show that, to compete with the top four (who also happen to be the biggest earners from merchandise), we need to follow suit.

I don't want us to be seen in the same light as the Sunderlands/Boltons etc of this world because I know we are better — yet our brand name is on a level par with these clubs (in my opinion).

THE BEAR WAS JUST A NARRATIVE... but they are bloody expensive!

Matthew Mackey
28   Posted 22/07/2009 at 10:16:35

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To improve our turnover in Everton 1, may I suggest we stock loads of Man U, RS, Chelsea and Man Shitty potties that the kids can shit in!?! — Just a thought...
Stewart Littler
29   Posted 22/07/2009 at 10:24:20

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Our brand is not as big as the top 4 because — wait for it... they are the top 4! Every fucker who knows fuck all about football will still know, from the incessant media who love their ’Big 4’ that they are indeed the big 4 — the saviours of English football, the darlings of the beautiful game. And they’ll want to buy their stuff. Not some stupid village team (is Everton still classed as a village?!).

On the point of JJB, the terms of the deal were that each store in the UK would have an ’Everton stand’, clearly stocking kits, training tops, etc., with a fascia and the full works. They didn’t live up to this. Hell, in my local store (Wigan), they had a few shirts on the side of the Wigan stand (incidentally, I emailed the club with this info). Anyone who thinks the Kitbag deal is a step back, or that JJB were good for us wants their head looking at.

As others have said, until we’re big enough on the pitch, we’ll never be big enough off it — you only have to look on this site at the number of people who have stated they won’t buy the new kit on account it looks shit (and they’re fans).

by the way, I’ve bought the home one, and think it looks great, and will buy the away one as I think that looks boss too. Umbro = boring, predictable and shite.

Last point (I promise) - why do people need to ’try a kit on’? Now unless you’re still under 16 (and therefore still growing at an unpredictable rate), have you not memorised by now your size? FFS, sometimes, you’d think this was a ’special site’.

Matthew Mackey
30   Posted 22/07/2009 at 10:32:34

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Alan, - nice one. No worries mate. We all have em (bad days that is).

Next time you wanna let off - just do a Stevie G on the bathroom door!
Jamie Rowland
31   Posted 22/07/2009 at 21:36:23

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Stewart Littler... why do people need to try on shirts??? Did you not go to either openings of the new club shops? There were people of all ages trying shirts on in the shop before buying... yet, according to your method of thinking, they should know their size.

I help run a supporters club and after the first day of sales, 16 of our members returned their shirts because they didn’t fit... they were all adults who ’knew their size’ — they incidentally got the same size as they did the year before with Umbro shirts.

Point and rant over.

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