For the second year running Major League Soccer is running “Jersey Week” as a way of kicking off the new season. Between yesterday and Friday 17 different kits have been/will be unveiled, a strange number until you realize that not all clubs are participating and some clubs are introducing more than one kit.
Conceptually speaking, this is a good idea- I really mean that. The problem is that, once again, somebody at MLS doesn’t understand how social media works. I’ve highlighted this on several occasions, most recently at the end of last season when whomever runs the MLS Twitter feed was openly siding with one club (a “marquee” franchise that until last season had never won anything– you can probably suss that out on your own) over another during a playoff match as though they were tweeting via their personal account, not that which is supposed to represent the whole league. In this case, a multitude of people have failed to heed the words and wisdom of the Benjamin Franklin quote that I used as my title.
It would be fantastic if Jersey Week worked as MLS would like it to, but there are too many people involved (dozens? hundreds?) at Adidas, MLS, and the individual clubs and their sponsors to keep these kits a secret until a specific day. First, there’s human nature- people are curious, football fans are…fanatical, and well, people like me spend way too much time obsessing over things like new kits. Add that to the “hothouse effect” of the internet in general and of social media specifically and there is not a chance- let me repeat that- there is not a chance that the kits will remain secret until their reveal date. Somebody(s) at MLS, however, don’t get this. I picture a GM at an MLS club thinking, “Well, I saw the intern take a picture of the new kit, but honestly, by the time he gets the film developed, makes copies, and shows them to his friends we’ll already have launched the new kit- no worries.” When, as we all know, the reality is that once the picture was taken it was instantly uploaded to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Uni-Porn (that’s got to be a thing, right?) and MILLIONS of people saw it mere seconds later.
Using the new New England Revolution home kit as an example, it will be revealed as part of a gala event this evening at the Royale Nightclub (great venue for music by the way!) in Boston. Except that I was able- without even trying- to get a picture of it and post it on February 25 and it wasn’t even the first MLS kit that was leaked! U.S.
Tennis Soccer hasn’t done any better either. The new USMNT home kit was released yesterday and I posted that kit on January 12– again, I didn’t even have to go looking for it, it was up at one of the sites I check every few days as part of my routine duties. And now for my terrible comparison, no, really, I apologize for doing this.
On December 13, 2013 Beyoncé- who must have a “Q Rating” that would bury everyone involved in MLS combined– released her eponymous album, a video to go with each of the fourteen songs, and three bonus videos to the complete surprise of just about every person with ears.* This was an album she’d been working on for a year and half and there hadn’t been a peep about it in the press- despite her celebrity, her husband’s celebrity, and the involvement of other “A List” people in the project- Timbaland, Pharrel Williams, Drake, Frank Ocean, Justin Timberlake, etc.. Don’t get me wrong, people knew she was working on an album and some snippets of songs had been leaked/released (is there even a difference anymore?), but nobody knew the extent of it or even when the album (never mind all of the videos ) were going to be released.
So, here is my advice for MLS, Adidas, and their various corporate partners: Next year, non-disclosure agreements.
*or, at the very least, to me.