Time to name Ottawa's new CFL teamCampaign could begin as early as week, just know club won't be Rough Riders
By TIM BAINES, QMI Agency
|Future owner of the new Ottawa CFL football team Jeff Hunt. (MATTHEW USHERWOOD/QMI Agency file photo)
OTTAWA - Soon enough, Ottawa’s CFL team will have a name and a logo and it’s likely to be big on the cool and hip factor.
It’s not likely to be Rivermen or Lumberjacks or Capitals or any other number of names attached to the history or heritage of Ottawa. And it won’t be the Rough Riders, a condition agreed upon when Ottawa was accepted back into the CFL for the 2014 season.
In fact, the owners of the CFL team, the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, will be looking at a specific demographic when it rolls out its Name the Team campaign as early as next week.
“We’ve got to come up with a name that’s going to connect with the so-called ‘lost generation’ of people we keep talking about in Ottawa — that 20-35-year-old range. It has to be a name that resonates with them, connects with them,” OSEG’s Jeff Hunt said Tuesday.
“That’s not to say we don’t care about the rest of the people. But that (20-35) fan base is so essential to our success that we’ve got to put an emphasis on a name that will excite that part of the market.”
The campaign, once it is launched, will be a short one, perhaps only 10 days. It’s expected that the CFL team will have a name by late January or early February.
“I’ve always said there are a number of nice-to-haves and one of them is an R name, but it’s not a must-have in my mind. Certainly that has an appeal,” said Hunt.
“A name that connects with Ottawa’s history is a nice-to-have, but not a must-to-have. That’s what the Rough Riders were, a name that had a connection to Ottawa’s history. But is that why people supported the Rough Riders in the ’80s? I’ve talked to thousands of people who really didn’t know the origin of the Rough Rider name. And, in fact, the origin is a matter of debate. I don’t know that I know exactly yet what the origin of the name is. We did a pretty exhaustive piece of research on that topic and it was inconclusive, even through historians.”
Hunt will be drawing on his experience as 67’s owner when it comes time to pick a football team name.
“I make the comparison to when I bought the 67’s and the barber pole jersey tested horribly among children. They didn’t like it,” said Hunt. “I remember saying to our ad agency ... think about the San Jose Sharks, for awhile they had the No. 1-selling jersey in the league and it was very popular among kids. We created a logo that was in that genre and it did connect well with the young kids.
“Now we’re at a point where the barber pole is cool with kids. I think it would have been an obstacle to us if we had relied just on the barber pole as our image. In a roundabout way, we have to do something similar for football in this market to make it appeal to a younger fan base. That’s not the say you can’t have a retro game once a year and maybe use the old Rough Rider jersey. It’s not that I don’t want any connection to history. That would be totally inappropriate. But I think we have an image and a brand that is cool and hip and will connect with that younger fan base.
“Cartoony might be going too far down the youth road. I’m not looking at something to appeal to six-year-olds, either. (The 67’s) wheelhouse is ages 4-11 ... that’s not going to be football.
“I’m drawing on the 67’s to recreate a look and a feel, but we’re not going quite as young.”