The Orlando Magic are coming to the end of an offseason that saw them part ways with their two best players: All-NBA center Dwight Howard (traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, which you might have heard about) and emerging forward Ryan Anderson (signed-and-traded to the New Orleans Hornets, which is one reason some are thinking playoffs in Louisiana). The Charlotte Bobcats are coming off, statistically, the worst single season in NBA history. Neither team figures to be very good this year; both teams' fan bases are in need of things to rally around.
That can mean only one thing: New slogan time!
Last year, the Magic's go-to marketing phrase was, "Be Magic," which sounds kind of like nothing and is pretty difficult to do unless you are young Timothy Hunter, and THAT was a decade-old Vertigo joke on an NBA blog in September. The transition to a new era of Magic basketball will take place under the auspices of first-year general manager Rob Hennigan, rookie head coach Jacque Vaughn and new signature star Player To Be Named Later beneath a banner reading: "WE WILL."
According to John Denton of OrlandoMagic.com, the can-do catch-all aims to "reaffirm the franchise's desire to be great."
The powerful proclamation of "We Will" promises that the Magic will do whatever it takes to put a winner on the floor and create a product that Magic fans can be proud of.
"For us, this campaign was relevant with or without roster changes [...]," said Roman Vega, the Magic's vice president of brand management. "It's designed to shatter any questions out there about us not wavering in our mission to put us in a position to win a NBA title. That's our number one goal.
"When you look at our mission statement, it's to be champions on and off the court delivering legendary moments every step of the way," Vega continued. "What we do from a marketing standpoint is to support and deliver with our mission statement and we really feel, 'WE WILL,' does that for our organization."
That's all very businesssynergistic, Mr. Vega. It also formalizes the far-future-tense nature of the situation in which the Magic organization finds itself after sending away its literal and metaphoric centerpiece in exchange for what — with all due respect to Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Nikola Vucevic and Moe Harkless — looks like a pretty iffy return.
We will be competitive. We will be dynamic. We will be excellent. ... But, um, later. Like, in a while, maybe. Definitely not right now, and probably not anytime soon. Also, any success the team has is definitely going to be a "we" thing, because in the present context, there doesn't look to be a single player on the Magic you'd rely on to be a late-game scoring option or offensive focal point. Get ready for plenty of contested midrange shots!
In the meantime, please enjoy the "legendary moments" authored by Hedo Turkoglu, Christian Eyenga and Josh McRoberts. Wait, do cursing at hecklers, slobbering all over the place and dropping your pants on the court count as "legendary moments?" If so, then we're probably set.
Some Magic fans might find hope in that future tense, though, and the simple stark white sentence will probably look great in commercials and on advertisements when the team's new ad campaign launches on Oct. 1. One pro tip for the Magic: This time around, make double-sure to ask for folks' permission if you want to use their likenesses for promotional purposes. If people don't like having their faces next to "BE LOUD" without their consent, they're probably going to feel way weirder about the potential implications of "WE WILL" being right next to them.
Just a scant nine-hour drive north of Orlando, the Bobcats also have a new watchword — three, in fact. The team's new "TougherFasterStronger" (wait, maybe that is just one watchword) motto began appearing as part of Bobcats radio, television and billboard ads on Monday and "puts an emphasis on the hard work, up-tempo play and overall development that are keys to the philosophy of new Bobcats head coach Mike Dunlap," according to the team's release:
"This is an exciting time as we prepare for the upcoming season," said [Bobcats Sports & Entertainment President and Chief Operating Officer Fred] Whitfield. "From his first day on the job, Coach Dunlap's intensity, energy and commitment have inspired not only the players but our entire organization. With that, it is only natural that we would follow his lead with this campaign." [...]
Each of the three words highlighted in the slogan "TougherFasterStronger" holds a unique significance. "Tougher" meaning strong and durable, not easily broken, capable of great endurance; "Faster" symbolizing the ability to move, operate and function with quickness; and "Stronger" representing the ability to exert great body, mind and power.
Thanks for defining those three words, Bobcats. I think we can all appreciate how important an element education is in branding, and I know we appreciate your commitment to it. Also, thanks for the phrase "exert great body," which I am quite sure is being fashioned into a disgusting euphemism on Urban Dictionary as we speak.
The new slogan continues a rebranding effort that began in Charlotte three months ago, when the Bobcats unveiled the new jerseys their players would wear this coming season. Since then, the team has added No. 2 overall draft pick Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, former Chicago Bulls and Detroit Pistons scoring guard Ben Gordon, well-traveled point man Ramon Sessions and amnestied ex-Dallas Mavericks center Brendan Haywood, all of whom figure to make the 'Cats roster a bit tougher, faster and stronger in their own way. (I hear Haywood exerts great body, if you know what I mean, which you don't, because I don't know what I mean.)
Like the Magic's new identifier, the Bobcats' slogan points toward the future — they even make a point in their release of noting that the words are italicized, because they're pointed forward, get it? — but it also makes an important connection to the past. "Tougher than last year. Faster than last year. Stronger than last year." We're going to be better than last year, because oh, man, that was the worst — we know you hated going through that, fans, and believe me, we hated going through it, too.
Whether that actually winds up being true will likely depend largely on what kind of improvements 2011 lottery picks Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo make in their second seasons, how quickly Kidd-Gilchrist can get acclimated to having defend opponents' top scoring wings every night and if anyone besides Gordon can actually score to help improve an offense that was far and away the NBA's worst a season ago. Either way, though, the implication is clear: There's a specific identity we're trying to cultivate, a specific direction in which we're traveling and a specific set of characteristics we think will help us get there.
That, in comparison to the relative vagueness of "We Will," I think the Bobcats win here. Now there's something we weren't saying an awful lot a year ago.