There is no such thing as bad publicity.
This age old advertising adage seems to be the silver lining attached to even the darkest of public relations clouds. Other than perhaps it’s parent association (FIFA), no organization in the World is as hopeful that those words ring true than CONCACAF, soccer’s governing body for North America, Central America and the Caribbean.
At this time last year, very few average American sports fans knew that there was a governing body for the region, and far fewer would’ve been able to rattle off the acronym. Relative to infamy, however, nothing builds a better brand than having an army of navy blue wind-breakers emblazoned with FBI , running in and out of a corporate office.
This submission is not intent on rehashing those dark days of federal raids and accusations of elaborate kickback schemes. Rather, it is designed to assess whether there actually is a sliver of positivity to emerge from the CONCACAF fiasco. As the knockout rounds of the CONCACAF Champions League are set to kickoff this week, is CONCACAF’s brand actually the strongest it’s ever been, even if the overarching perception is a negative one?
In other words, does the CONCACAF Champions League at least now raise an eyebrow of curiosity amongst the casual American sports fan, simply because more people are now aware of what CONCACAF actually is? Is there a better chance ESPN airs match highlights even if it’s only because a producer sees a window of opportunity for the anchor to crack a joke about the scandal?
Those circumstances, while perhaps negative at inception, may actually be a useful entrée for that casual sports fan to begin to comprehend that Seattle Sounders vs. Club America is a fantastic sporting event which will be played out in front of rabid atmospheres at Century Link Field and the Azteca.
Ultimately, the public relations pendulum will need to swing to the positive side for CONCACAF events to truly gain a foothold in the U.S. In the near term, however, it can certainly be argued that any brand awareness beats near anonymity.
Perhaps there is such a thing as bad publicity, but for CONCACAF the sins of the past may prove useful in paving the path for the future of the organization’s brand and events.