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D.C. United to go Mobile and Take Over the World

D.C. United had its kickoff luncheon this afternoon, which brought out flawless emcee Dave Johnson, the entire team, and lead investors Victor MacFarlane and Will Chang. During his luncheon remarks, Chang talked about how aggressive the team will be with its online content, and I asked him about this afterward. Well, first, Chang had a few words with the team's biggest online star, Bobby Boswell.

"Can I pay someone to give you a decent hairstyle," Chang said to Bobby, whose hair was in one of those spiky semi-mohawked arrangements.

"I normally just wear my hair spiked, but we filmed a guy cutting my hair and he butchered it," Bobby explained to one of the men who pays his salary. "I kind of wear this out of necessity. I'm actually gonna get it cut probably in the next few days, but this is kind of what I've resorted to. That's all right, Phyllis, the head security guard at the stadium, every time I wear my hair like this she's like, 'You're supposed to be a Cosmopolitan man of the year, and you just look ugly'."

Anyhow, I asked Chang about, since it's a topic that's been on my mind a lot lately. The Big Lead said last week that within five years, 90 percent of pro athletes will skip media sessions and control their own content via blog. One of the best MSM bloggers, Randball, disagreed, calling that assertion absurd. Maybe five years is too soon, and maybe it won't be 90 percent, but TBL is right, it's gonna happen. Gilbert Arenas gave demonstrably less interviews this season once his blog took off. He saved all his best stuff for his blog. And media outlets all over the country were forced to quote extensively from that blog. Why in the world wouldn't more and more athletes do this, especially the ones whose words are either particularly interesting or particularly in demand? Why shouldn't they control their content? That's what I would do, were I them.

But that's another matter; the point is, I asked Chang about Bobby's site.

"I'm gonna make him a mini Beckham," Chang said.

"Except I'm bigger than Beckham," Bobby pointed out.

"We're going to enhance it," Chang said. "We're going to do more. The new technology wasn't around this time last year. YouTube was around, but nobody knew. This time last year, if you said 'YouTube,' nobody knew. Now, everybody's able to take that YouTube content, put it on Bobby's web site, put it in blogs....

We're gonna invest in being able to create content and being able to help people like Bobby reach out to the fans," he continued. "I mean, we're doing this as a fan outreach program, not necessarily to make anybody famous, just to reach out to the fans and allow them to feel like they're part of the family."

I suggested that Gilbert's blog was something of a model in this regard.

"We're going to take it one step further," Chang said. "We'll start taking this content and we'll stream it on mobile. I've already done that with In fact, as he approaches all the records, you'll be abe to click and see all his home runs on mobile. If I'm doing it for Barry, why wouldn't I do it for D.C. United? Probably by mid-summer we'll be forwarding a lot of this content on mobiles."

I asked about the famous photo from this spring of Barry Bonds in a D.C. United jersey; Chang said Bonds asked for the shirt, and upon receiving it, immediately put it on and headed out to the field.

"I didn't ask him, he just wanted the shirt," Chang said. "Then he got photographed with it, and now, a whole bunch of other guys [on the Giants] are saying, 'Hey, I want a shirt too. [Noah] Lowry, [Matt] Cain, a couple other guys."

Which reminds me, Chang also spoke this afternoon about increasing the variety and availability of DCU merchandise. I asked him about this, also.

"Right now we don't have a kids' line and we don't have a women's line," he said. "So we're trying to develop our own line, going to Adidas and saying 'Guys, can you make this for us?' I'm working with our merchandise guys and putting together that product line. I think it's important for my teenaged girls to be able to say 'Mom, dad, this is cool, I want to buy it'."

"You've got to be cool somehow," said MacFarlane, who happened to be walking by. "If making merchandise makes you cool, that's what you've got to do."

"Then we're going to increase the points of distribution," Chang continued. "The best form of advertising is to be able to find our merchandise in many, many places, and that's one of the things we want to do, is increase our point of distribution....I want to see D.C. United merchandise in the airports. That's a high priority for us, so everybody who's coming into or leaving D.C. sees D.C. United merchandise."

Finally, it's perhaps worth pointing out that Bobby Boswell left today's event with a whole bunch of the D.C. United pocket notebooks that were handed out to luncheon attendees and then left behind on chairs. Also, with Ben Olsen's nameplate. And Troy Perkins's. He'll probably give them away on eventually. One more cog in his plan to destroy the MSM.

By Dan Steinberg  |  April 10, 2007; 3:59 PM ET
Categories:  D.C. United  
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