May 4, 2001, after a day at training camp practice in Los Angeles, the Sparks boarded a bus bound for West Hollywood’s [California] Girl Barfor a pre-season pep rally. Girl Bar is the nation’s largest lesbian club with approximately 12,000 members.
Joe McCormack, Vice-President of Finance with the Sparks organization, and an officer who is more actively increasing his role in the management of the Sparks stated, “We want to market this basketball team to fans whoever they might be, be they an inner-city youth basketball team or someone of an alternate lifestyle.” And suddenly the lesbian fan population became visible.
Previously all marketing of the Los Angeles team was aimed at family groups — focusing on inexpensive entertainment for the kids [boys and girls] at prices much lower than the cost of a Laker ticket. The radical change in marketing strategy is definitely a first, and well past its time. Most gratifying was the change in strategy bore almost immediate results.
Girl Bar owner Sandy Sachs announced the sale of 75 season tickets in just the first two days following the announcement of the event. Positive reinforcement rarely moves much faster.
Before anyone assumes that the marketing folks with the Los Angeles team are open-minded, progressive gurus, we should take a look at what prompted this brilliantly courageous change in marketing. Not surprising, it was the numbers, of course. More specifically, the dropping attendance records — Spark home attendance has declined every season since 1997 when the team averaged 8,931.
When asked about the new marketing strategy, president Johnny Buss remarked, “We’ve reached the point now where we can be smarter about our marketing. We can target particular groups. Our market is girls age 12-14. It’s also these women.”
Mr. Buss seems a bit uncomfortable using the word lesbian, but I find it encouraging that he is finally able to acknowledge us in his fan demographics.
See you at the games!
Until next time…