Forget fat opera singers and gorillas playing drums. Forget debonair Russian accented meerkats and Thunderbird puppets in reaction lenses. Forget mega-budgeted, multi-faceted, multi-layered, wholly integrated marketing campaigns that go above the line, below the line, online, up, down and all around the line.
Sometimes, all you need to get your message across is a football scarf.
It’s amazing to me how the football the humble football scarf has undergone something of a revival in recent times.
Not so long ago, you wouldn’t catch any self respecting football fan within the length of your average footy pitch of one. The last time a scarf was ‘in’ was back during the seventies when wearing it round your wrist or tucked into your hip was very much de rigueur. Right up there with half-mast flared jeans, Doc Marten 14-hole boots and those ‘Bay City Rollers’ style black V-neck three-star jumpers.
That’s the way it stayed for a good thirty odd years.
Then along came Mr Mancini.
With his light blue scarf tucked adroitly around neck and inside overcoat, the fortunes of the football scarf were revived almost overnight.
But, forget its burgeoning credibility in the fashion stakes for a moment. Even before the Italian style guru’s arrival on the scene, the scarf was beginning to take on a whole new symbolism and meaning on the terraces. Not merely a sign of your affiliation to a particular club anymore, in recent times the scarf has morphed into a very effective and impactful marketing and messaging tool.
Look at the green and yellow scarves worn by Man United fans – a vivid and highly visible symbol of fan disapproval at the club’s American owners for the way they’ve funded their ownership and investment by placing the world’s biggest and best known club in debt.
At my own club, though on a much more modest scale, we’ve gone down a similar route. Exasperated at how the current impoverished board have knocked back investor after cash-rich investor without providing one genuine reason why, the fans have lost patience and now supporters of all ages can be seen on the terraces sporting a rather fetching two bar-style gold and black number – a throwback to the club colours of the 1950’s. It’s quickly become the highly recognisable symbol of the desire for change at the club: black and gold until it’s sold.
Yes, there’s a supporting website, laying out the case. Yes, there’ll be leafleting at games. Yes, there’ll be protests with placards and banners. Yes, there’ll be public relations campaigns waged through the local press, radio and TV.
But, for me, there’s nothing quite so powerful, potent or eloquent as walking into a football ground and laying eyes on a sea of black and gold scarves.
An otherwise silent majority having their say.