Washington Commanders team president Jason Wright sat down with WTOP’s Rob Woodfolk to discuss what to expect in year two and beyond as the franchise’s rebranding process hits its first anniversary.
As of Thursday, it has taken me a full year to digest the reality of General Washington.
I was pretty critical of the Commanders brand rollout last February 2nd. A year later, I still have quite a list of complaints ( The jersey that brought the infamous Jim Zorn gaffe to life).
However, team president Jason Wright (the public face of Commanders’ rebranding) seemed prepared for these criticisms in an interview with WTOP.
Wright and his team “realized that this was not a marketing effort, not a rebranding, but an emotional journey for fans,” said Wright and his team.
That’s why Wright said he was happy the team retained a common placeholder Washington football team for the two years between the old and new names. Gone. ”
Along the way, Wright said careful fan research helped his team get to Commanders.
“We also had to be honest with ourselves, recognizing that the new name wasn’t something we’d immediately embrace,” he said.
“So I was hoping that within a year the sentiment would be neutral.”
Although unscientific, WTOP posed the question on social media and the response was well below neutral. Only a few respondents said they liked the name, and the majority of respondents either favored the old name or wanted to leave owner Daniel Snyder.
A year later, how do you feel about commander names and uniforms?
— WTOP (@WTOP) February 1, 2023
Even the generic Washington football team moniker outperformed its current branding among Instagram respondents.
“It would be too simplistic to think that after something so old, so meaningful, so deep to people, it would be a triumphant parade around new names and brands,” Wright said. We’re on the journey we’ve been waiting for…and on that journey, some have gone further on that journey than others.”
Like it or not, the old name will never come back. But what about those who stopped supporting the team due to their racist association with their old name?
“Yeah, I think we started getting those people back with wins and better business processes,” Wright said, adding that the commander “had a record year in merchandise sales.” NFL this past year.
There was a positive but somewhat predictable initial surge. Wright said in his Aug. The overall renewal rate for Commander Season Tickets has increased by 15%, and the renewal rate for Suites has increased by almost 30%. In Week 1, Washington set his Game Day record for merchandising franchises.
As NFL crowds increased in 2022, Washington had the third-highest home attendance from 2021 (10.2%) and the penultimate attendance increase. Still, the average crowd of just over 58,000 was the lowest in his 2022 league, and the Commanders were his only NFL team below 92% of stadium capacity.
Wright said the FedEx Field was accident-free in 2021 after suffering from collapsing railings, bursting pipes and other troubles, while also honoring past legends such as Sonny Jürgenson and the late Sean Taylor. was key to its growth (the latter, as Wright admitted, did better than the first install, which angered fans).
But Snyder remains the owner of the team, and although his tenure appears to be coming to an end, it still acts as a deterrent to fully embracing the Commanders brand.
“When you’re supporting your team, when you’re in the game, when you buy gear and are proud to be a Commander’s fan, you tell everyone it’s so much more than ownership. ‘ said Wright. “The money we make as a healthy business.
And what if Snyder is not the owner?
“We continue to work the same way we’ve always done,” Wright said.
Part of that job is to be more transparent and community present than the franchise was before Wright’s arrival in 2020.
“I can’t say I’ve done that consistently over the last 10 years,” explains why he moved business operations to FedEx Field in Landover.
“We need to get out and get back to where the people are, where the fans are,” Wright said.
Wright added that we’re seeing a “generational shift in fandom.” Older fans still wear their old jerseys, while kids wear Commander’s gear. Inevitably pushed by the franchise.
Wright said the three most consistent reactions he received from fans about the new branding were: 2022 season.
What to expect in 2023 and beyond
Whatever the ownership, Wright remains confident in the organizational values he and Ron Rivera instilled.
Wright, who operates under the acronym FIGHT (Family, Influence, Growth, Honor, Trust), said after gathering “talented talent” that would make up “the most diverse leadership team in the NFL,” the Washington Commanders will: He said he was ready to see him take the steps.
“[Values]don’t change no matter what happens. For us, it’s always been about being a trusted and healthy business that our fans deserve,” he said.
Wright was tight-lipped about the franchise’s ongoing efforts to build a new state-of-the-art stadium, but said, “I’m really proud that the work that was done last year (of FedEx Field) has been forgotten. I have.”
Wright said 2024 could see gold pants, with a fourth uniform featuring a Gold Rush theme (i.e. an all-gold uniform) and a cherry blossom theme (as the Wizards and Nationals recently debuted). ) is included or not. ) or another theme specific to the DC area.
In fact, the old name was highly controversial. That legacy was bound up with so many conflicting things. Most notably racism. Three Super Bowl glory and the envy of the NFL throughout the 1980s and his early 90s, mainly because they were the last NFL team to merge with the old name.
The Commanders brand cannot be truly successful without the latter. Wright knows it.
“We changed the culture here,” he said. “We have great people (and great processes). Now is the time to win.”
“It’s time to win.”
So there are two saving graces for this brand. It’s about winning the field and having Snyder cut his name off the field.
Washington deserves both. I hope the commander can provide it.