21 August 2000

Smashmouth Football?
Smashmouth Marketing!

Have you been following the rise of the XFL? How has the trip been so far? Let me tell you…

The XFL was first announced in February 2000. This web site and a few others were created in the months that followed. In this time we have seen the league start from an announcement which contained a few rules and a strong statement from Vince McMahon claiming that we would see a return to Smashmouth Football.

Since then we have not seen any Smashmouth football. Of course, we are still taking Vince's word that we will eventually see it.

What we have seen in its place, is "smashmouth marketing".

This is a brand new league, fighting to put itself together in a limited time span, while trying to market itself. It also seems imperative that this new league creates enough fan-based hype so that they will survive through an entire NFL season.

Not to mention the monumental task of establishing and organizing eight franchises in different cities and with a variety of personnel. It does not sound like a great way to spend your summer vacation.

Have they done enough? I don't think anybody could have done any better than what Vince McMahon and his gang in Stamford CT. have done.

Their announcements seem to be timed so that nary a week has gone by without a major league press release. Every press conference has been a first class affair, gaining plenty of local media coverage in most of the XFL team cities, especially in the smaller markets.

When Dick Butkus was announced as the Head Coach of the Chicago franchise it sent shockwaves across the country. The announcement was played out in every media market across the land and even many more around the world. Many agreed on the decision to place Butkus as the head coach of the Chicago XFL team, and many more disagreed. But, never mind the opinion of the media. The seed was planted, and the hype that grew was "gold".

And there is more to come.

In the coming weeks we will be formally introduced to the official XFL team nicknames, team colors, team logos and jersey designs. The same thing will happen all over again. The XFL team names may prove to be wildly different than what the football following public is use to. This will create a stir!

In the media there will be coverage - good, bad and otherwise. But, in the football jersey buying demographic there will be a need to go out and shop. The media hype will get everybody's attention, and the people will react with their wallets.

Later this fall we will also be introduced to potential XFL players through combines and training camps. How will the XFL take advantage of this, to create the necessary level of excitement? We'll just leave that up to Vince McMahon and the team in Stamford.

It hasn't all been coming up roses. The league's official web site at xfl.com has had some good days and bad days. For example, the recent announcement of the signing of Al Luginbill as Head Coach of the Los Angeles franchise was not posted on the official site until approximately 36 hours after it had occurred. By this time, the announcement was already "old news" at most media sites and XFL fan sites. Like many people have learned in the past. Creating a web site is one thing - keeping it up to date is totally different.

The XFL will learn from it's mistakes.

The first XFL game will take place one week after the Super Bowl. One wonders how the XFL can keep the hype going through the entire NFL regular season and have the fan frenzy peak just after the biggest football game of the year? The XFL has yet to take us down this road.

The scenery could be interesting.

Mark Nelson
XFLBoard Editor