Longford AFC will never be as famous as they are right now writes NLD writer and PR expert Tom Snee
As I write this column, Stuart Pearce is trending on Twitter, as the 53-year old is coming out of retirement to play for the Gloucestershire outfit, who have lost 18 league games out of 18 this season at the thirteenth level of the English football pyramid.
They’ve gone through the usual rigmarole of revealing a high-profile signing – countdown on Twitter, a grand reveal with the player holding up the shirt, even doing a few keepy-uppies on demand. All for one game, after which Pearce will return to job-hunting.
Alongside Pearce and Longford, one name kept cropping up in the tweets – Direct Line. The insurance company had quite a presence in the signing, appearing as the shirt sponsor (front and back) on the promotional shots.
A company with a rich history of advertising – remember the ads with the red phone on wheels? – Direct Line encouraged Harvey Keitel to reprise his role as Pulp Ficton’s Winston Wolfe for their most recent campaign, using the slogan “I fix problems”.
It seems that Pearce is on board as their latest fixer, and it won’t be a huge surprise to see his spell at Longford feature on an ad campaign in the near future.
This was one of those paradoxical situations that occasionally crop up where being the worst can actually end up being good for business. Think of this as a football equivalent of Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares, or The Hotel Inspector. Would Joe Public know about Longford had Pearce not signed for them?
New Mills went into last weekend with an unenviable record of having failed to pick up a single point in their first 22 games. It got so bad that the Telegraph sent Daniel Johnson up to the High Peak region to find out just what the heck was going on.
Their story is a classic tale of a small town club that overstretched itself financially to try and reach an artificial high, only to “do a Leeds” and come crashing back to earth. The article painted those still at the club in a deservedly positive light – the chairman Ray Coverley is putting his hand in his own pocket each week to make sure the players receive even the most rudimentary expenses – and there were some nice sponsor mentions for the league and even a photo in front of the branded name board.
It’s a sad fact of the industry that just as it’s a lot easier to lose every game than win every one, it’s a lot easier to get national media attention when you’re at your worst than when you’re at your best.
All you can do is ride the punches, make the best of a bad situation, and take the positives – I guarantee the awareness and social media mentions of New Mills AFC has gone through the roof, especially when they picked up their first point of the season against Witton Albion days later.
Everyone won…off the field at least.