World Series Marketing Winners and Losers

Yankees Take Title From Defending Champ Phillies, but Both Teams Field Endorsement MVPs

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David Schwab
David Schwab
The World Series has ended, the players and sport now go dormant for the winter, but brands begin brainstorming 2010 and future plans. Here is a quick snapshot of who increased their marketability over the past two weeks and who took a hit.


Marketing Winners:

Hideki Matsui: MVP. What a fantastic World Series Game Six for him, literally minutes before becoming a free agent -- six RBI (tying a World Series record). His stock is soaring back in Japan and Asia. Risk: As a free agent, he may not be in New York next year. But with Seattle Chicago and others in the mix, he'll still end up on a team with international prominence.

Chase Utley: It's weird to have someone high from the losing team but what a postseason for Mr. Utley. He blossomed onto the national scene with five home runs in the World Series, tying Reggie Jackson's 32-year-old record. Companies and PR firms will rack their brands to figure out how to incorporate that success into future campaigns. He is also a passionate dog lover and supporter, which could make for a nice play. Downside and challenge is that he is humble and shy, which will make national media interviews (when pushing a product) difficult. Creative departments will have to write scripts that fit his personality. (His management team has to take advantage of it now or wait until next October when a brand is looking for their next World Series spokesperson.) We are now curious to see what his current partner EAS does with him next year (or even this week).

Alex Rodriquez: A-Rod's stock could only go up after a troubled year off the field (steroids, marital problems and hip surgery). The media and fans expected the worst this postseason (as he has struggled before) but he has come up with clutch hit after clutch hit. He may go down as the greatest player to ever play baseball, but will a big company risk marketing dollars with an admitted steroid user? It hasn't happened yet, but he has the best chance of all the players to break through this issue. In the past, he was an endorser of Pepsi, Guitar Hero (remember the commercial with Kobe, Phelps and Tony Hawk) and the face of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. I bet a company will use him in the next 12 months. (Does anyone even talk about the steroids usage by Andy Pettite anymore? Pettite has the chance of some New York-related deals too.)

Mariano Rivera: He may go down as the greatest closer in MLB history and this postseason cemented that fact. I do think it would be worthwhile for a company with bilingual needs (Spanish and English) to invest in him. It would have to be a New York-based company or a MLB sponsor as people would need to see him in uniform for easy identification.

C.C. Sabathia: You have already seen Subway include him in its print advertising (which only a month ago was only using Phillies Ryan Howard). At 6'7" and 290 pounds (size 42 pants), an oversized clothing retailer or other "large" product companies make the most logical sense for him. He will be in New York for a long time and expect him to have a Hall of Fame-type career.

Cliff Lee: He is similar to Utley quickly going from a Phillies success to a national name. But he still doesn't have the star power of some of the Yankees. His name will be included on all marketing short lists that include "pitchers."

Derek Jeter: He continues to perform every day. His plate is already full of endorsements. He has a Gillette partnership with Roger Federer and Tiger Woods and appeared in TV commercials for Gatorade, Visa, Nike (Jumpman) and more. He even has cologne named Driven. His Turn 2 Foundation is themed around teenagers avoiding drug and alcohol as well as rewarding educational success. The question is if there is one other corporation willing to pay premium dollars for the best in the business. I say yes.

The Next Joe: We are not talking about Yankees skipper Joe Girardi but Joe Buck, Fox's top MLB and NFL broadcaster. Buck stars in Budweiser commercials and he will continue to be at the forefront of programs needing a voice, moderator or host.

Marketing Losers:

Cole Hamels: Last year's World Series MVP has taken a hit this postseason. His on-the-field struggles have left many in the talk-radio space dissecting his role with the team. His Philadelphia fan base is strong and his good looks help his marketing appeal. But his national appeal (upside) took the biggest hit of anyone this fall.

Mark Teixeira: Coming to New York as a free agent, he put a large amount of money in the bank (roughly $180 million). He also helped the Yankees all year round. Unfortunately, he has come up short in the World Series. And with other bankable Yankees around, he becomes just another "really good" face to the team. He works for on-the-field success (and local advertising) but not for a national ad campaign. He is an avid fisherman and hunter and I could see a deal in this space with a retail outlet and/or promotional appearances at fishing tournaments or private getaways with wealthy fans.

Joba Chamberlain: Billed as the next great Yankees pitcher, he was moved into the bullpen late in the season and through the postseason. With that and the success of the Yankees starting pitchers, his national exposure diminished this fall (though his performance in Game Six helps). With so many other big names on the Yankees roster, he needs a solid year of on-field success to break through the Yankees clutter. Uniqueness: He is one of a handful Native American players in the MLB and has family still living on American Indian reservations. Negative: He had a DUI one year ago.

Johnny Damon: He played great this postseason but with the success of others, he won't end up being the "star" of the games. And with that, his national appeal stays stagnant. Like Matsui, he is a free agent. If the Yankees choose to let him go during free agency, his stock will drop (can't be better than his time with Boston and New York). Lastly, being injured in the third inning of Game Six prevented him from any last-minute heroics, too.

Ryan Howard: Already one of the leagues' marketing powerhouses, he had the chance to solidify himself as the go-to endorser in MLB. Ryan fell short. He is already the face of Subway's baseball advertising efforts, but heading into 2010 his national glamor will have cooled and others caught up to him. But don't be shortsighted, he is still a dominant player in the Big Leagues and will be around for a long time both on and off the field (and his home run in Game Six reminded all of us about that).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Schwab is the managing director of Octagon First Call, Octagon's celebrity acquisition and activation division. Annually, his business unit analyzes the value of spokespeople for more than 100 corporate marketing programs, leads contract negotiations and ultimately, manages the celebrity-portion of the campaigns. Follow him via twitter @david_schwab.
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