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MLB-MasterCard Effort a Marketing Casualty of Steroid Scandal

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DETROIT ( -- A potential season-long ad campaign from Major League Baseball and MasterCard International highlighting Barry Bonds' pursuit of baseball's all-time home run
The steroid scandal around Barry Bonds continues to intensify.
record has been shelved, the first marketing casualty of Mr. Bonds' admission in court documents that he unknowingly used steroids.

'Assess the ramifications'
"We continue to assess the ramifications that these issues will have on our business," said Bob DuPuy, chief operating officer of MLB. "It's another reason why we need to restore the confidence of not only our fans, but of our partners."

A MasterCard spokesman said, "We have had discussions with Major League Baseball, but I would characterize them as not having gone past the preliminary stage."

Meeting canceled
The two sides canceled a meeting after Mr. Bonds' grand jury testimony, and that of New York Yankees' slugger Jason Giambi, was leaked to the San Francisco Chronicle. Mr. Giambi admitted using steroids and injecting himself with human growth hormone. Mr. Bonds said he used a cream and one other substance provided by the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (Balco), but said he did not know they were steroids. Balco is under federal investigation.

Mr. Bonds, one of only three players in baseball history with more than 700 home runs, was likely to pass Babe Ruth's 714 home runs in April or early May, and then set his sights on the all-time mark of 755 by Hank Aaron.

MasterCard got the pitch
MLB detailed a pitch for the campaign, including art work, and sent it first to MasterCard, one of its prime corporate partners. MasterCard had previously done two season-long campaigns associated with baseball, including a look at memorable moments from the league's history and a campaign that tracked two men who visited every ballpark in the country. Both were woven around MasterCard's own successful "Priceless" campaign.

The proposed campaign called for a season-long watch as Mr. Bonds, with 703 home runs, chased Mr. Aaron. It would have included an on-field ceremony when the San Francisco Giants All-Star hit the record-breaking 756th home run that offered "significant" exposure to the sponsor.

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