In the wake of the Frank Lampard contractual saga and the public relations cataclysm that raged as a result, New York City FC launched the "Cityzens program" for all season ticket-holders.
Seeking to reward fan loyalty and engagement, the program looked to be a much-needed gesture for a flagging brand.
Sweepstakes contests (watch this weekend's game in the President's Box, and find the can of sardines Tim Pernetti left behind!). Swag (earn points, get a t-shirt!). Auctions (earn more points, bid for a spot in the team photo! Smell Mix's hair, maybe!). It all sounded harmless, even fun.
Well, any good will generated by the fan relations effort has just been obliterated. Let's visit the Cityzens rewards page:
Firmly mired in Cityzens: New York City FC's dark night of the soul.
So. Here are the current rewards available to account-holders who have generated the necessary points through, for instance, attending home games and entering weekly codes announced during YES Network broadcasts.
T-shirts are cool. The chalk talk sounds like a good deal to me. But what's up with that hat? That's new.
Well, upon further review:
Unfortunate image courtesy New York City FC Cityzens
Sometimes a story just writes itself. Where to begin?
- This isn't even an image of the actual hat-- JUST LOOK AT THAT PHOTOSHOP HACK-JOB!!! Because... damn.
Even five-year-olds know how to use iPads now. You're telling me that City Football Group can't hire a graphic designer whose skills extend beyond Microsoft Paint? On a scale of 1 to "Crud," this is a Crud-point-five. May as well change the name of the team to "Cut and Paste FC."
- We're looking at some really cheap dreck right here, yet there were only 25 total in stock. Is nobody aware of "pricing tiers" in yonder office?
This is sad. More like pricing tears, if you ask me. This is like the "dry hump" of things you willingly put on your head.
- The hat is the first product listed in the lot, and thereby the first one everyone sees, invariably, when they log on.
We rolled through the Facebook page for New York City's Third Rail Supporters' Club to find the best responses to this awful, nightmarish chapeau. Here's what we found.
Via member Jeff W.:
How this club keeps finding ways to mess simple things up is amazing.....
This hat was definitely made by an intern.
This hat is ugly and if i see someone wearing it i will walk away from that person as fast as i can
If I see that hat I'll grab it, stomp on it, throw it in the street to be run over by a bus and give them one of my cooler NYCFC hats instead.
Further, let's see what the Twitterverse had to say following the initial announcement from Cityzens:
@NYCFC This hat is terrible and you should feel terrible. I love this team and this hat is a disgrace.— Sarah / Jade (@counterparted) June 9, 2015
@NYCFC that cap is shocking— drew (@AndrewJHilton) June 8, 2015
Finally, here's the response from the NYCFC Reddit page:
Via user swampy13:
It is technically a hat. That's about it.
It's just a blue hat with uninspired text. Are they joking? Like i'm fiending to kill my points on something good but this is so cheap looking. Not even a logo on it.
This looks like something you get for free at a time-share presentation.
I'm not interested in being unfair-- one isolated incident, even one as bumbling and oblivious and laughable as this, ought not constitute reason to openly condemn the entire outreach apparatus. But let's consider the host of corroborating data points just from this calendar year (that is, after the Lampard mess came to a head):
- The Blue Steel question, in which the Zoolander-ish moniker was offered by the club as a possible nickname for the team. It suggested that the club was content to be heavy-handed in its push to develop supporter culture from the top-down.
- The ongoing City Beats quagmire, in which the supporters are forced to compete with an overly repetitive brass band during matches. The members of City Beats are paid by the club, and have no affiliation with any independent supporter group. The supporters are not permitted to play music inside the stadium, despite reasoned appeals to do so.
- The repeated, avoidable incidents inside Yankee Stadium with Securitas and outside the stadium with the New York Police Department.
How would you rate the quality of relations between the club and its supporters? On a scale of 1 to "Crud," I'd rate them an "Adam Nemec"-- full of possibilities, but mostly an uncoordinated mess.