‘Blood, sweat, mud’: Behind the scenes of Bay FC’s ad campaign

“B Legendary” was designed to introduce one of the newest teams in the NWSL to fans, the team’s VP of brand marketing said.
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Bay FC/YouTube

· 4 min read

Bay FC had a lot to get done in the months since being announced as one of two expansion teams to join the National Women’s Soccer League this season. Beyond team practices and getting ready for the season, the club got to work building a fanbase from the ground up.

“When you’re looking at your inaugural season, you’re starting from ground zero,” Emily Raimondi, the team’s VP of brand marketing, told Marketing Brew. “There’s so many directions you can go, there’s so much you can say, and at the core of it, we wanted to build that anticipation.”

To do it, the team, which is based out of San José, California, hired a local creative agency to put together an ad campaign, which started running across platforms on Jan. 16, exactly two months before the start of the regular season. The goal: To build brand awareness and connections with the community, and, of course, sell tickets, Raimondi said.


The inaugural ad campaign, called “B Legendary,” was designed with the goal of conveying several points to potential fans. First, “we want people to really feel connected to the brand, see themselves within it, and be inspired by it,” Raimondi said. Beyond that, the team wanted to establish a visual identity tied to the Bay Area, explain its value proposition, make its mark on the Bay’s already “very elite sports market,” and generate excitement for the season, according to Raimondi.

To get it done, Bay FC tapped California-based creative agency Partners in Crime by way of referral from a previous agency client, according to Stephen Goldblatt, Partners in Crime’s founder and creative director. The agency had a bit of prior sports work under its belt, Goldblatt said, but the agency’s Bay Area roots and its team’s skills were what sold Raimondi on working together.

The resulting spot, set to music by Bay Area artist LiTTiE, is running on social, digital, linear, and over-the-top platforms, Raimondi said, as well as an out-of-home component with still images on billboards located at transportation hubs. When the team starts playing at PayPal Park next month, the ad will be shown there, too; it’s set to run through the NWSL season.

“While our games will be played in San José, we wanted to be really intentional about how we rolled this out,” Raimondi said. “Whether you live in San Francisco, if you live in Sonoma, if you live in the East Bay, this is a team for the entire Bay Area, and so our placements are very intentionally throughout all nine counties.”

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The team declined to share ticket sales figures, and it’s still early days: Season tickets went on sale last month, and group tickets and single-match tickets just became available Feb. 16 and Feb. 21, respectively.

Fan made

Between NWSL fan growth in recent years and an already strong sports fandom in the Bay Area, there were some early signs that Bay FC fandom would be welcomed. While the team was filming for “B Legendary,” some bypassers recognized Bay FC branding on their hats and hoodies and came up to say hello, Goldblatt said.

They were prepared to ask some friendly fans if they wanted to appear in the ad. “We had a stack of releases on us when we shot,” he said.

Those release forms came in handy. During a day of filming on the Embarcadero, a roadway and urban waterfront in San Francisco, a fan came up to the team to express her excitement at seeing them at work, Raimondi remembered. The team put the woman and her friend in the ad, in the background of a shot of people juggling, she said. Another scene shot on the Embarcadero features a man who joined in on a soccer play at random, Goldblatt said; another shot includes a group of kids playing two-on-two who also just happened to be in the right place at the right time.

None of the people in the ad are actors, according to Raimondi. Instead, there’s a real youth soccer club, she said, the children of a few of the team’s founders, as well as several people who responded to social media ads seeking Bay Area locals with soccer skills, Goldblatt said.

“We didn’t want to just show beauty shots of people with Bay FC gear on,” Raimondi said. “We wanted to show diving for a ball, true scrimmages, blood, sweat, mud. That was all real, because that’s part of the game.”

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