Anyone who has been in Central Florida over the past six months will have undoubtedly seen several Orlando City magnets spread around the city. The magnet craze which has taken over the region has been part of the brand recognition effort by Orlando City Soccer Club upon entrance into Major League Soccer.
The club has given out magnets before, while in USL Pro with the club's former logo, but it never took off the way it has this year. "It was never like this before," says Brand Manager James Pellington.
The idea for passing out magnets with the MLS club logo came about once the new logo was released in May 2014. During a week established as "Logo Week," the club's marketing team covered the outside of their cars with magnets and wrote "Take One" on the windows. The group then drove around downtown Orlando, spreading the word and putting magnets on anything with metal. According to Pellington, the goal was to "make sure the entire city of Orlando has a magnet on their car."
The popularity of the Orlando City magnet exploded a few months later when the club established "Magnet Monday." Each Monday, fans were encouraged to drop by the club's office in downtown Orlando to pick up five free magnets. It's now become a weekly tradition for the club.
With the popularity of the magnets increasing each day, the club began a social media campaign to further increase demand for the small automobile fixture. Director of Digital Media Ed Cahill came up with the idea for the club to tweet and encourage fans to tweet pictures of the magnets on famous film and historical scenes, such as the Lunar Lander, Prince Charles' car, and the Popemobile, further spreading the word about Magnet Monday.
With the magnets now a valuable item, the club began hearing from people who couldn't make it to the office on Monday afternoons, or from people out of state. So, to satisfy those customers, the club gave fans the option to purchase five magnets for $5 online, the cost of five magnets plus shipping and handling. The club has now shipped out over 2,000 packages without making a profit.
While Pellington says the financial aspect has been "quite painful for Phil (Rawlins) at times," it's been a marketing goldmine. At the current moment, you would be hard pressed to find a community in the state of Florida that doesn't display Orlando City magnets.
The popularity of the magnets has grown to the extent that magnets are routinely stolen from cars while unattended. However, whether it's around town or at games, the Orlando City Street Team is always there to make sure it's quickly replaced.
Pellington says this small exercise of passing out magnets has gone way farther than anyone at the club could have imagined. Having now distributed well over 100,000 magnets, the marketing department has far exceeded their initial budget on the exercise.
What started as a simple way to promote Orlando City's new MLS logo has developed into Central Florida's newest fad. The item has become a valued asset in which some go to great lengths, even resorting to theft, to possess one. The popularity of the Orlando City magnet baffles the front office and many fans alike. But the fad has yet to cease and continues through their inaugural season.