The Philadelphia Union will have a unique jersey asset for the 2019 season to help celebrate their 10th Major League Soccer campaign.
The club teamed up with local celebrities, including Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz and U.S. Women’s National Team midfielder Julie Ertz to design a set of emblems that reside on the neck portion of the 2019 white secondary jersey.
Rapper Freeway, alternative band The Wonder Years, supporters group the Sons of Ben, chief tattoo officers Bonedaddys and an internal design group also contributed to the project, as well as a few to be determined celebrities.
“This year, starting with the white kit, we’re trying something new and see how fans like it or don’t like it,” Union vice president of marketing Doug Vosik told ProSoccerUSA. “Normally you get two hits on the kit, you get the back of the neck, which can either be inside or outside, and you get one on the lower front. Those two designs are collaborated between Adidas and the club, you design them together. Once you pick the two, they’re locked.”
“Where we worked with Adidas and MLS was for us to give flexibility and let the fans make the decision, ” Vosik said. “In honor of our 10th season, in honor of a club that was birthed by fans, let them have some kind of voice in the 10th season kit.”
Every day from December 13-22, the club will release a new pack of designs from a different local celebrity, and the neck tag with the most votes each day will be added to the collection for the 2019 season.
“We’ll release sets of them every day so that fans can vote on them,” Vosik said. “That way there’s a representative winner on each design.”
“(Each designer) has a pack that they are representing that captures what was in their imaginations.” Vosik said.
Each player on the roster gets to choose which tag they want to be pressed on the jersey for each game the club wears its white kit.
The idea came about during the club’s meetings with Adidas about the 2019 jersey, which begins 18 months in advance of the new season. With the connections it’s made in the community over the last two years, it decided to reach out to certain people for the project, like the Ertzs or others that have stopped by Talen Energy Stadium recently.
“Some of this stuff just happened organically through relationships we’ve been building for the last year and a half,” Vosik said. “We’re always trying to find ways to work with them. This project was really cool because it seems to be uniting people from very different backgrounds who have a love for the game that want to flex some artistic creativity. It’s a way to take our relationship to the next level.”
Some of the relationships have already evolved, as Freeway helped with some promotional videos at the end of the 2018 season and The Wonder Years combined with the club for a shirt based off their song “Sister Cities” for the friendly against Eintracht Frankfurt in July.
“Freeway did a couple of things with us last year and what started off an initial “We’d love to have you out a game,”. After one game, he wanted to be a part of it and then he did more with us for Open Cup and playoffs,” Vosik said. “A guy like that naturally fell in the fold. A band like the Wonder Years is going to be part of it. They came to games even before we started working with them.”
“Look at Zach and Julie Ertz, with her, her background is soccer and she becomes more of the Philadelphia fabric given Zach’s rising status,” Vosik said. “She said it was a cool opportunity for her to be involved in soccer outside of my day-to-day.”
The patch design and subsequent voting is just the start of what the Union have set to roll out for the club’s 10th anniversary, but they’ll also showcase sporting director Ernst Tanner’s first year in charge throughout 2019.
“This is Year 1 of Ernst and there is a new leaf for the Philadelphia Union and a new evolved strategy based on his experience so I will be frank in that marketing will of course do storytelling about the 10 seasons to honor it, but ut a lot of the marketing is going to be about Ernst’s new vision and how in Year 1 Ernst is evolving our club to be competitive on pitch,” Vosik said. “It’ll be a good healthy combination of looking back, but to a degree more importantly looking forward to where Ernst is taking us.”