Philadelphia Union’s search for Chief Tattoo Officer down to 13 artists from 150 applicants

“These guys love tattoos, they want to get more tattoos…so we thought, ‘hey, let’s bring a service in.'”

MLS: Philadelphia Union vs D.C. United
Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports
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The Philadelphia Union have just two points in their first three matches, but if their recent marketing campaign to find a CTO — a Chief Tattoo Officer — was worth any points in the standings, we could just give them the trophy right now.

The soccer team put out a call this winter for applicants to serve as the team’s tattoo partner — cleverly titled their “CTO” — and while they expected a good return of applicants, they never expected 150 people to submit their ink.

VP of Marketing Doug Vosik told us via email Monday they’ve narrowed the list to the final 13, and the players are now reviewing the submissions to get down to a group of “three to five” ink specialists they like the best. “From there,” Vosik wrote, “we will be reaching out to those 3-5 shops to get to know them better.”

The original list of 150 had been cut to 30 in early March, and Vosik told us at a Union event at City Hall on March 7 the team is, “trying to do it right so we’re taking longer than we thought, to be honest.”

“It’s a difficult process not only to find an artist you like,” Vosik explained, “but to sit down with them and talk to them. Before you leave markings on my body, do I want to spend 30 hours with you as you do my full arm? So there is a personal connection there.

“Just as I would for a consumer,” he continued, “we’re doing that for our players. We’re going to find the five best shops art-wise, then of those five, find the best person or group of people at the shop we feel good with. There is quite a vetting process, but we’re pleasantly surprised by how the community has embraced the idea.”

CTO Collage

The Union posted art from some of the finalists in early March.

Philadelphia Union

The team released a statement Monday, from Vosik, saying that, “beyond the enthusiasm we’ve seen in the area, others from as far away as England, Russia and Japan got into the spirit of this opportunity.  The international interest has been exciting, but with so much talent in our own backyard, we are focused on finding the right partner, in the Delaware Valley.”

The team announced the list of shops/artists as well. The list of finalists is as follows:

This is a total win for the team. Vosik told us that when the artist (or shop) is selected, he, a player and a fan will all be getting tattoos as part of the announcement. The idea is a total gimmick, yes — good job on that, guys — but it stemmed from a service Vosik thinks the club should be providing for its players.

“The idea was berthed out of, just, observation,” he said. “Our social guy, every day, is looking for people tagging the Union, so whenever we see a tattoo come across with a fan tagging us, we all gather around talking about how cool that is.

“That was the first thing, but more so, every year we bring the players together for our media day and some of our players, while they speak English, it’s not their first language. One of our players, from the Netherlands…I walk over to him dressed like this [button down, suit jacket] and he’s in his jersey because we’re doing our photo shoot that way. He’s all sleeved up, so I say to him, ‘nice piece,’ and he said, ‘yeah, yeah, I love tattoos.'”

“So I show him my arm, and he says, ‘Oh!’ And that was the spark. Before that I was a suit coming up [to talk to him] and then we started talking about which [tattoo] was our favorites…mine was about my grampa, his was about his mom. It was a bonding experience for us over ink.”

Vosik took that exchange and thought up the idea for a dedicated position. And it’s just a partnership, the team assured, so it’s not like they’re inking anyone (ahem) to a full-time position.

“These guys love tattoos, they want to get more tattoos but they’re focus on the job,” he said. “So we thought, ‘hey, let’s bring a service in.'”

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