Who Dey Caravan?
I've always marveled at the concept of the Reds Caravan. It takes place in the dead of winter, usually less than a month from players reporting to Spring Training. Current and former players, broadcasters and members of the Reds front office gather to make the trip. I believe the Reds usually have four buses hit the region with a combined 17 stops. They reach five different states: Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia and Tennessee. They cover about 3,300 miles. Why? To make an investment in the fan base and to spread Reds talk and grow the fan base.
It is time for a Who Dey Caravan?
I've presented this idea in the past and it was often met with a blank star or a quick wave off and dismissal. I wonder if that was simply the result of the Bengals being a losing franchise when I discussed the idea?
What about now? The Bengals have shown a tremendous growth and appreciation in connecting with their fan base and they are coming off a Super Bowl appearance. The team's social media presence and impact is off the charts. Fans can't get enough of the Bengals. They have created a Ring of Honor. They have upgraded the Paul Brown Stadium experience. There was a throng of fans waiting at PBS when they returned from the Super Bowl. There was a celebration at Washington Park.
Consider the potential of a Who Dey Caravan. The Bengals could go to the fans for a chance to reach out, shake hands, sign autographs, take pictures and promote Bengals football. I believe the Bengals have radio affiliates in 39 different cities: 22 in Ohio, 10 Kentucky, 7 West Virginia. Consider the TV/radio airtime, and newspaper, website and blog space that would be devoted to the Bengals during a caravan. You can't put a price on that promotional value and investment in the fan base.
The caravan could lead into the start of training camp each year. Make the official kickoff to football!
Imagine current and former Bengals players/coaches, front office people, broadcasters and cheerleaders boarding buses to travel the region.
Imagine the possible stops and pairings:
Massillon and Canton: Mike Brown, Anthony Munoz, Joe Walter, Jonah Williams
Athens and Lancaster: Joe Burrow, Ken Anderson, Hayden Hurst, Bob Trumpy
Dayton and Columbus: Ja'Mar Chase, Tim McGee, Max Montoya, Sam Hubbard
Lima and Findlay: Dave Lapham, La'el Collins, Tyler Boyd, Chad Johnson
Chillicothe and Portsmouth: Evan McPherson, Jim Breech, Eric Thomas, Dax Hill
Louisville and Bowling Green: Joe Mixon, Ickey Woods, Solomon Wilcots, Mike Hilton
Ashland, KY and Huntington, WV: Willie Anderson, Jackson Carman, David Fulcher, Von Bell
Lexington and Paintsville: Dan Hoard, Logan Wilson, Doug Pelfrey, DJ Reader
What a way to connect to fans and expand a fan base.
As I always say, what's the downside?
I checked out some other NFL teams that have done a caravan over the years:
The Colts Tailgate Tour travels around the state of Indiana throughout June and July and feature Colts players and cheerleaders.
Broncos Country Caravan is an opportunity for fans in communities outside of the Denver Metro area to engage and connect with the Broncos through events that include: local hospital visits, autograph sessions with a Broncos Alumni, Cheerleaders and Miles the Mascot, as well as a celebration that declares each city an official member of Broncos Country.
The Jaguars Caravan put players, coaches, ROAR cheerleaders and other special guests in the travelling Jaguars RV which will stop in seven cities to engage with the team’s regional fans.“We know that a lot of Jaguars fans live beyond our five-county area, so this is an effort to bring our ‘All In’ message to them,” said Mark Lamping, president of the Jaguars. “We’re working hard to build and expand our fan base, and we want these fans to have the opportunity to meet some of the players they root for on Sundays. The caravans should be a lot of fun and we hope to see a great turnout in each city.
The Tennessee Titans, along with the incredible support of our partners at Titans Radio, conduct an annual Caravan that travels throughout Tennessee, southern Kentucky and northern Alabama. We have visited nearly 400 cities in five states and made over 450 total stops. We've traveled nearly 35,000 total miles and taken thousands of pictures.