The Atlanta Falcons have become one of the most consistent teams in the NFL. Since 2008, the Falcons have amassed five consecutive winning seasons, two NFC South titles and one of the best home records in the league. They have provided the home fans with more nail-biting excitement than 10 summer's worth of blockbuster movies.
But does anyone know it?
While the Atlanta Falcons look to fill holes on the field, the front office might look to fill a hole off the field. The Falcons' public relations department seems to be sorely lacking. The Falcons, as a team, have had a metamorphosis over the last five seasons, and it might be time that the PR department had one as well.
"Yeah but" Advertising
Falcons players and fans grumbled about a lack of respect during the 2012 season. No matter what the team with an NFL best 13-3 regular season record accomplished, there always seemed to be someone ready to point out the negative. This "yeah but" mentality often overshadowed the team's amazing run.
Yet that is how the team was marketed before the season began.
The Falcons ran a series of radio ads centered on the idea of not being satisfied. The commercials seemed to commiserate with fans after the playoff loss to the New York Giants. The commercials often utilized the phrase, "Satisfied does not play here."
The message had the right sentiment. The Falcons were still hungry, the organization had loftier goals than regular season dominance, and the problem was that the critics were right.
But by putting the emphasis on taking things to the next level, the advertisements undermined the team's previous successes. These ads seemed to validate outside opinions that the Falcons were mediocre until the playoffs proved otherwise.
These types of ads can be inspiring and depressing at the same time. By discounting the Falcons regular season success, the season ticket package appears to be a 10-game preseason affair.
This would be the equivalent of marketing a movie with the tagline of: "The sequel might not suck."
Out With The Old, In With the Older
The Falcons introduced new uniforms in 2003. A year later, they switched the jersey color from black to red. At the time, the Falcons were riding the wave of Michael Vick's popularity, and everything, from the uniforms to the updated logo,was meant to accentuate a sense of speed. The team was all about sizzle and flash.
The current team is the polar opposite. The team is far more blue collar these days. There are no choreographed end-zone dances, and the team cares more about wins than highlights. Like the majority of the fans, the new-look Falcons are willing to grind it out rather than throwing in the towel at the first sign of trouble.
Oddly enough, it is this old school mentality that makes the red jerseys seem dated, much like a grown man desperately trying to hang on to his youth. The Falcons have matured now, and it might be time to move on.
Fans seem to love the throwback uniforms. The black jerseys and red helmets are an unbeatable visual combination, and they look sharp in more ways than one.
The black uniforms enhance the live experience. The stark contrast between the jersey and the numbers make them easier to read from higher elevations in the Georgia Dome. Likewise, they provide a greater contrast to the field. This makes the live experience much easier on the eyes.
From a marketing perspective, black should be an easy choice. Black is an almost universal color that compliments most other colors. This might help when marketing clothing.
Most of all, the return to black would help solidify a new identity. According to the California State University, black symbolizes power and fear. This would help capitalize on regular season dominance rather than focusing on the failures in the postseason.
When a City Lights Up
There is a conundrum in this changing identity. The Falcons struck inspirational gold when they launched the "Rise Up" campaign. Samuel L. Jackson's stirring speech never fails to stir fans both in and out of the Georgia Dome.
The "knocking on the door" aspect grows almost ironic with each passing year, though. This, however, is easily overlooked due to the connection with the fans. This connection is most evident when seen through the faces of fans attending a game. The marketing tool is still too powerful for it to be scrapped.
But with a few changes, the Falcons marketing department could help the fans focus on what they can take pride in rather than reveling in the team's shortcomings. Perhaps it is time for an identity change in Atlanta.