ON-FIELD SPIDER-MAN BASEBALL ADS CANCELED

Commissioner Responds to Public Outcry Against Product Placements

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DETROIT (AdAge.com) -- Responding to a critical public outcry, Major League Baseball Commissioner Allen H. "Bud" Selig announced late last night that baseball
Photo: AP
Baseball Commissioner Allen H. 'Bud' Selig said, 'Nobody loves tradition and history as much as I do.'
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would scale back its co-marketing promotion with Sony's Columbia Pictures that would have put the logo for the upcoming Spider-Man sequel on the bases at 15 major league parks next month.

"The problem in sports marketing, particularly in baseball, is you're always walking a very sensitive line. Nobody loves tradition and history as much as I do," Mr. selig said. "It isn't worth, frankly, having a debate about."

Playing field
The deal, worth about $3.6 million to baseball, was to have a red, black and yellow Spider-Man 2 logo on first, second and third base at the 15 ballparks that would be hosting games the weekend of June 11-13.

But almost immediately after the announcement earlier this week, the plan began to fall apart. Public outrage was palpable, including an ESPN.com poll in which 79.4% of the 45,000-plus respondents blasted the plan. Columns and commentary in the media criticizing the plan also followed. And, perhaps the worst part for baseball, its premier team failed to sign on for the plan.

The New York Yankees, hosting three games that weekend at Yankee Stadium, said they would only allow the logos on the bases during pre-game and batting practice, and would remove them once the actual game began.

'Fans are uncomfortable'
"The bases were an extremely small part of this program," Bob DuPuy, MLB's chief operating officer, said. "However, we understand that a segment of our fans was uncomfortable with this particular component and we do not want to detract from the fan's experience in any way."

Said Geoffrey Ammer, president of worldwide marketing for Columbia Tristar Motion Pictures: "We never saw this coming, the reaction the fans had. Some people thought it was a great idea, but others saw it as sacrilegious."

MLB and Sony will still move forward with part of the promotion that weekend, including logos in the on-deck circles, giveaways at the parks, and trailers for the movie being shown on the scoreboards. The logos will appear on the pitching rubber and homeplate, but only during pre-game and batting practice.

It is not known how Sony's payment to Major League Baseball is affected by scaling back the promotion.

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