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Marketing The Saskatchewan Roughriders – Getting Back To The Way It Used to Be

Published: Monday, Apr 15th 2024, 9:04pm

By Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)

 

It’s no secret that I’ve been critical of the Saskatchewan Roughriders and frankly, the entire CFL over the last few years when it comes to marketing. For whatever reason, the league and their teams just don’t put money into their product anymore and if the league is actually serious about growing, it’s far past time that they do.

I love that the league is hiring a Manager of Player Marketing for this season. They posted that not too long ago and for the first time in a while, I have hope that the league as a whole can push our great CFL athletes out there and make them household names. While I have thoughts on that as a whole, I’m going to stick to just Saskatchewan here in this article. 

 

We did 2 episodes of the show recently in the offseason about marketing the team and got some great feedback from other amazing Rider fans. Have a listen/watch and share with us what you think the Riders should do to market to the fans better.

Piffles Podcast Episode 251 – On Brand (youtube.com)

Piffles Podcast Episode 252 – Only Fans Feedback (youtube.com)

 

Now, I make jokes about how the Riders used to slap their logo on anything and try and sell it. But there’s a lot of truth said in jest. The Riders and their logo(s) were EVERYWHERE. And we need to get back to that again. Not just clothing at The Rider Store, but keychains, coffee cups, water bottles, household items, etc… something should be in EVERY retailer in the province. You should be able to go into pretty much any store in Saskatchewan and see the Rider logo. BE. ON. EVERYTHING. AGAIN!

 

Lately, it’s become an elitist thing to be a pro sports fan and wear their gear. The fact the Riders want $130 FOR A HOODIE is asinine. Especially when the EXACT same product of another team is available for 30% (and up to 70%) cheaper. The Riders have made it too expensive to be a casual fan. There needs to be $10 shirts or $40 hoodies available SOMEWHERE for the casual fan. Giant Tigers, Wal-Marts and CO-OPs used to have Rider/CFL gear at a reasonable price. Was it the nicest stuff? No. But it was affordable. EVERY SINGLE PERSON should be able to afford to be a fan. Not just those that can spend $130 on a hoodie (that really isn’t THAT nice).

 

Figure this out, Riders. Have the super overpriced hoodie, that’s fine, but give us an affordable option like the Bombers have.

 

I mentioned CO-OP… remember when the Riders had their players on products all the time? (Andy) Fantuz Flakes, Darian Durant and Chris Getzlaf cereals, Weston Dressler chips. WHAT HAPPENED TO THIS?? It was an affordable way for people to support their team. And you can walk into ANY small town store and find them. THE. RIDERS. WERE. EVERYWHERE. You got a collectors item and it didn’t break the bank. You hit such a different audience with stuff like that. There HAS to be a way they can get some sort of partnership back with CO-OP (or whoever) to do this again. Maybe the league’s new Manager of Player Marketing has this in mind across the league, but at the team level, it needs to happen, even if the other 8 teams aren’t on board.

 

 

I get it, pro sports is now all about the big corporate sponsors. The Riders have plenty of in-stadium ads with players endorsing something. That’s fine, you have to keep that. But what about TV or Radio ads? I’m sure they could only run on Bell & Harvard owned properties, but once every few hours we should hear or see something “green and white”. The Riders used to have an abundance of local partners to do this kind of thing with and once they got into the new stadium and went more corporate, many of those partnerships ended. Does the team just not like money anymore? I don’t understand. Make PLENTY of friends and be seen and heard everywhere!

 

And partner perks need to be a thing. I’m a Pittsburgh Penguins fan and they had a great deal with a local restaurant. “Jake’s Shakes” was the name of the promo…. Every time (now traded) Jake Guentzel scored a goal, you got half price off a milkshake the next day at this place. If I got a half price Blizzard from the wonderful folks at Dairy Queen (on Elphinstone St. & Sask. Drive) every time A.J. Ouellette got a touchdown this year… I’d probably frequent after every game day and also buy a delicious burger combo as well (Mushroom Swiss Grillburger, by the way). I’d LOVE to see something like this happen! 

 

Players/coaches/reps should also be at EVERY sporting event in the province. Okay, I know that isn’t exactly possible, but you know what I mean. Pats games, Blades games, Rush games, etc. Have a player or two go there and sign autographs and do photo ops. Maybe they have a rep with them that gives out a 25% off voucher for Rider tickets. The team needs to be a part of the COMMUNITY again. The Calgary Stampeders have had players at Calgary Roughnecks NLL games recently and the Riders had a couple of players at the Brier and a Rush game. This should be the norm. Have a couple of “Rider Nights” at Warriors and Raiders games, hit a couple SJHL games throughout the year… just get out there in the community and try to get more tickets/merch sold. The more people you meet, the more people you will have an impression on.

 

It’s time for the Saskatchewan Roughriders to be the talk of the town again. In the “glory years” of 2007-2013, you could tell when it was game day. EVERYONE was out in their Rider gear. Now? You can’t tell when there is a game anymore. People have lost interest. “Rider Pride” isn’t what it once was and they NEED to get back to where it was. Yes, winning helps and ultimately is the thing that will bring back that feeling, but off the field, the Saskatchewan Roughriders need to get back to being the COMMUNITY driven organization it was. They’ve started the process, but it needs to become a bigger priority.

 

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