Baseball's Marketing Winners and Losers
With Monday night's win, the San Francisco Giants are the ninth different team in the past decade to win Major League Baseball's top honor after they beat the Texas Rangers. For the non-baseball fan (and maybe even for some baseball fans) it's a bit hard to remember which teams got to pile on the pitcher's mound after the last out. But that pile is also indicative of large-roster team sports -- it's hard to pull out one or two players who stand to gain now that he's won a ring.
Derek Jeter aside, there haven't been many top baseball endorsers on the sports-marketing landscape of late. Probably the best ad recently featuring a big leaguer was the PlayStation 3 spot for "MLB 10: the Show" featuring Twins All-Star catcher Joe Mauer. I also tip my cap to Evan Longoria, the slick third baseman for the Tampa Bay Rays, for working it as an action star in a New Era spot. Both players have seen plenty of postseason action, even if it's been on the losing end, and their profiles are only rising.
So with the Fall Classic now behind us, which players, teams or brands with upswing have a shot at similar marketing success?
Tim Lincecum: During a postgame interview, ESPN's Karl Ravech asked the Giants' Lincecum if he thought San Francisco was duly celebrating the city's first World Series victory. The two-time Cy Young winner, who pitched impressively through his first postseason, said he expected that the beer was flowing and the smoke was wafting. That latter throwaway line probably reminded a few people of Lincecum's arrest on a pot charge (which was ultimately dismissed). Forbes' Sports Money blog is right to assume this past arrest will "cloud" his endorsement potential, but Lincecum is young, charming and a real character -- everything from his long hair to his unorthodox pitching delivery make him a valuable endorser for non-blue-chip or upstart challenger brands. (He's already starred in a few spots.) But if he keeps winning and maturing, that could all change.
Buster Posey: Lincecum's battery mate, catcher Buster Posey, is the clean-cut character on the Giants. Octagon First Call's David Schwab points out the rookie sensation has no current endorsements, but expect that to change as Posey is likely to join Joe Mauer as in-demand endorsers.
The Giants: Over at AdAgeStat, our numbers crunchers show that the Giants also won the check-in championship among Major League teams. But expect this Bay Area team to find a way to continue to score with its likely tech-savy fanbase. And the CEO of one of those S.F. shops, Adam Kleinberg of Traction, offers his take on what brands can learn from the Giants.
Ginger ale: Had the Rangers won, we would've witnessed another ginger-ale-soaked celebration. Josh Hamilton, the team's superstar slugger, is a recovering addict, and his teammates found a great way to include him in their locker-room festivities. The move sent a great message -- and I suspect the folks at Canada Dry, Schweppes and White Rock are working on continuing to spread the word that ginger ale should be part of your celebrations too.
Fox: Let's face it, if the Yankees aren't in the World Series, ratings suffer. Brad Adgate, senior VP-research, Horizon Media, broke down the numbers on his Twitter feed and found the five-game series averaged 14.3 million viewers, the second lowest of all-time behind the 13.6 million viewers in 2008 that tuned in to watch the Tampa Bay Rays and Philadelphia Phillies square off. The 2010 series also had the lowest adult 18-49 rating (4.0) and highest median age 52.6 since at least 1993. And the clinching game still trailed ABC's "Dancing With the Stars." That said, the News Corp. had still managed to sell out 90% of its ad inventory before the series began.
Cliff Lee: The free-agent-to-be who is considered one of the best pitchers in baseball and who had a sterling postseason record until facing the Giants is going to earn a fat salary from a big-market team looking for an arm. But don't expect brands with big wallets to come calling yet.
The postseason: OK, so maybe this is only a pet peeve of mine, but November is no time to be crowning a World Series champion. MLB needs to adjust its schedule so that these games end before Halloween. Baseball is a summer brand that has a "fall classic." Too many new shows, too many new sports seasons and too many distractions in an already-distracted media landscape debuted after Labor Day. In what's been an otherwise stellar regular season, MLB needs to keep tinkering its postseason play.
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