Kyle Tapper
Author

Chelsea Wins American Branding from Europe

Aug 05, 2014 1:29 AM EST

I absolutely love when big European clubs jump the pond and make their way to the United States. Last year, I took in 2 games: Manchester City vs. Chelsea and Real Madrid vs. Inter. Billed as "not friendlies," the competitions were in fact quite tame. Each team trotted out a squad full of superstars for 45 minutes and then subbed them out at the break. And here's why: European teams don't travel to the states looking for good competition against the LA Galaxy or even the MLS All-"Stars."

They travel with hopes of conquering the world.

Americans beware. European clubs want your loyalty and your money. And there's one team that does it best: Chelsea.

From the two games I attended last year, Chelsea dominated the competition to convert American naivety into fan dome. At their friendly against Manchester City (who were fresh off a league title and actually won the match), Chelsea stole the show. They hosted pre game ceremonies including a march to the stadium. Professional photographers were on hand to snap official photos of fans with the Europa League trophy, which were available for free online. They disbursed Chelsea flags to anyone passing by on the streets as if Santa Claus had a surplus in his workshop. Chelsea did everything possible to send fans home with a piece of Chelsea paraphernalia in hopes of securing a few dollars to fund their transfer activity and ward off FIFA FFP police.

Manchester City merely showed up, won the game and appeared on the match day scarf.

In my other experience with European teams traveling to the states, both teams seemed to forget they were playing in front of an emerging soccer market with little to no team loyalty. Christiano Ronaldo and KaKa scored goals, but the game was overshadowed by poor security, a surplus of tickets and St. Louis Rams advertisements. Instead of a game marketing Real Madrid, it seemed like a plea for fans to go to Rams games. There were no giveaways. There were no photo ops. There weren't even souvenir cups! 

This year Chelsea skipped the US tour. Maybe because most of the squad participated in the World Cup. Or maybe because they aren't worried about efforts from their European counterparts. If Liverpool, Man U, Real Madrid and the others turned in another effort like years past, then Chelsea will continue to win the American market, even when they don't visit.