Are you Buying what the Colts are Selling?

In the unlikely (and totally awesome) event that you’ve been living in Christopher Walken’s basement with Brendan Fraser for the past few years, you’ve probably missed out on a few big news headlines.

First, the world is currently experiencing one of its worst economic downturns in recent history. Jobs are being eliminated, wages and benefits are being cut, all while the price for goods and services continue to rise. By the time you finish filling the gas tank in your minivan, you’ll need to start searching for some replacement kidneys. You’ll be hard pressed to find a family who has not been affected financially, and, as a result, has not started budgeting their money just a little more conscientiously.

The second bit of news that may interest you as you wake from your information hibernation is that earlier this off-season, the Indianapolis Colts gutted their roster, cutting most of the men, women, children, and farm animals associated with the uber-successful teams of the early 2000s.

Given the first two pieces of news, most of you will find this next news item rather unsurprising: the Indianapolis Colts are currently experiencing a decline in their ticket sales. Along with approximately 2,000 unsold season tickets, the Colts are also struggling to sell out their two home dates for the preseason, announcing yesterday the sale of a “limited number” of single-game tickets for their games against St. Louis and Cincinnati.

I say most of you will find that information unsurprising because it seems some people – most notably Mike Florio of (we assume that Pro stands for Professional and Professional refers to the type of football being played, not the type of coverage being delivered) and Brad Wells of – have decided that these common sense headlines are actually scandals worthy of multiple articles with attention-grabbing, sensationalistic headlines

In response to yesterday’s announcement concerning the “limited number” of preseason tickets available, both Florio and Wells took issue with the “trumped-up scarcity of supply” and the “silly ploy to generate interest in preseason tickets”. Let’s get this out of the way quick: both Florio and Wells are correct, the Colts are using a common marketing tactic to generate interest.

Have you ever watched TV? Sure, you have. You’ve probably seen the commercials where someone has screamed at you, “hurry! while supplies last!”, or “quantities are going fast, so act now!” Have you ever been driving in the car, listening to sports talk radio, when the host says, ‘if you want to talk to us, call in quick, our phone lines are almost full?” Or perhaps you’ve heard the theory about how being involved in a committed relationship makes one more attractive to the opposite sex. Okay, so not all examples are created equal.

The point is, these tactics are used, and they are used for a reason: they work. I won’t regurgitate the 25 Latin phrases necessary to explain the medical reason for this, but suffice to say, psychologically, people want what they may not be able to have.

So are the Colts guilty of using these tactics? Yes, absolutely. Does this make them evil, shady, or guilty of using questionable practices? No, it makes them a business. That’s right, folks, the Colts are a business. They want to sell out their preseason games, they want to regain that long waiting list for season tickets. While doing both will obviously help the Colts make money, it also has the added benefit of helping them avoid local blackouts.

And don’t overlook the importance of avoiding those blackouts. Getting on local TV this season is vital for the Colts to be able to show their fans – despite the record – that they have put together a young, exciting, dynamic roster because they know – from experience – that, in the long run “winning” is the best “marketing ploy” there is.

We could complete this discussion without mentioning the obvious irony of Florio and Wells railing against the usage of “cheap marketing ploys.”  We could do without mentioning that using headlines such as “Fair-weather Colts fans could regret not keeping season tickets” and “Colts Use Silly Ploy To Generate Interest In Preseason Tickets”, could also be considered a “cheap marketing ploy”.  We could also do without mentioning that, just as the Colts will use every bell and whistle to sell tickets despite poor performances on the field, Florio and Wells will try to use smoke and mirrors, eye-catching titles and over-the-top hyperbolic claims to mask poorly-written articles that lack knowledge, depth, and substance.

We could do without saying that.

But we won’t.

Just as Florio and Wells smartly do everything they can to sell their product, the Indianapolis Colts continue to use every trick, tactic, and ploy they can to sell theirs. It’s just good business.