There has been some buzz this week about a new study conducted by Turnkey Sports and Entertainment. The 2007 Turnkey Team Brand Index ranks the local brand strength of every team, from 1-122, in the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL.
The key word — and the stumbling point for some confused bloggers — is local, as the purpose of the study was to evaluate team brands in their respective markets. That explains why the Yankees, clearly one of the most dominant sports brands in the world, come in at number 29. With competition from the Mets (43) and so many people moving to New York, it would be impossible for the Yankees to hold the same local sway as, say, the Cleveland Indians.
Of course, the study’s limited focus also explains why the folks over at Deadspin filed the study under the heading “Useless Rankings.” If we take a look at the results, what do they actually tell us?
Take out the Buffalo Sabres (sorry, hockey fans), and the top five team “brands” are the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Boston Red Sox, and San Antonio Spurs — or, the winners of the last three Super Bowls, this year’s World Series and the NBA Championship. Hmm. Rounding out the top ten are the New Orleans Saints (Katrina), Detroit Red Wings (hockey), St Louis Cardinals (2006 World Series), and Green Bay Packers (cheeseheads and beer).
Basically, we are all fair-weather fans. This is hardly news. We generally support our teams more when they win than when they lose. Yes, there are exceptions. But if you need more evidence, look no further than Detroit — while the Red Wings, Tigers, and Pistons all earned spots in the top 15, the lowly Lions sit all the way down at 117. Off to a 6-2 start, the team will almost definitely make leaps up next year’s list.
Still, I’m not sure the Turnkey Team Brand Index really tells us anything significant. In 2006, the Pittsburgh Steelers were valued at an estimated $880 million — 18th in the NFL. More importantly, their $187 million in revenue eclipsed that of the Lions by less than $10 million. So how much does “team brand strength” really matter?