Friday, October 27, 2006

Garden's New Jumbotron

Holy Crap...while the Celtics and Bruins may win 60 games total this season, make sure to attend a game this year to check out the new jumbotron. I attended an event at the Garden this morning and was blown away. The management also updated the sound system so it doesn't sound like Charlie Brown's teacher is making an announcement if the base is too loud.

This morning, Charlie Jacobs, the president of the Bruins, stated he has heard from numerous fans that historically, the team has had a team salary large enough to field a competitive team, but never one good enough to win the championship. This is what I have always heard. Jacobs completely disagrees with this notion. The problem for Jacobs though, is perception is reality with a lot of Bruins fans. The hard-core fans are not going to come back until they see the team winning again and truly believe the management is putting a competitive team on the field. If I was in the marketing department, I would try to use the belief that the Bruins don't field a team to win the championship in some sort of marketing plan. Understandably, one would need to change the message that the Bruins want to win and don't believe in this notion. The fans could relate to this since this is the perception in New England.

If you go to a game this season, the product may be awful, but at least you can enjoy other items at the arena.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sports Marketing Gone Mad -- “For Die-Hard Fans”

I didn't have a chance to address this story last week. MLB, as we know, has a history of negotiating sponsorship or marketing deals for the most random things. From the Roberto Clemente Award winner to the Fireman (closer) of the year to the newest random deal – "Major League Baseball has cut a deal with Eternal Image to put team logos and colors for the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, Phillies, Cubs and Dodgers on caskets and urns -- starting next season. Each will carry a message saying MLB officially recognizes the deceased as a lifelong fan of that team."

Um…I don’t even know what to say about this. I personally think this is overboard even though I am a passionate Red Sox fan.

Sports Marketing Gold Star – Taco Bell

"Yo Quero Taco Bell." I never thought I would see the day when I was impressed with Taco Bell and its sports marketing department. During Game Three of the World Series, Taco Bell announced the following promotion. "Taco Bell, the official QSR of Major League Baseball, will hand out free seasoned beef crunchy tacos to any consumer if any Detroit Tigers or St. Louis Cardinals player hits a home run over left or left center field during the game."

Millsports, a sports marketing agency in Milford, CT helped to create the idea. This promotion is a great "outside the box" idea and it did generate some coverage during the game and in selected areas around the country. More companies need to think of different ideas, like this to "break away from the clutter."

MLB Labor Piece Until 2011

What is MLB thinking? Did you hear the news earlier this week that baseball players and owners finalized a new five-year collective bargaining agreement? All right, a show of hands of people who really care about this news. you think it would have been beneficial to hold this news until the winter. The League "should" be generating enough news from the snoozer of a World Series. Maybe PR thought this was the best time to make the announcement.

Considering the League almost when "belly up" during its last strike in 1994, you would think they would have made a bigger splash with this news. There were no threats for each side or emergency meetings. These negotiations were handled quietly.

MLB needs to continue to make noise at the national level and they should have held this news and announced it this winter.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Bruins and Celtics Mobile Touring Experience?

For the last decade, the Boston Bruins and the Boston Celtics have been sitting back and reminding fans about their glory days and assuming fans will attend games. This may an exaggeration, but seriously, how much innovate marketing ideas have you seen from these two teams?

Since New England is such a sports-centric region, most teams do not need to do a lot of marketing to attract fans, as long as they as winning. That has not been the case for the Bruins and the Celtics over the last few years. What have they done to generate interest with the fans throughout New England?

Sports teams in other parts of the country develop innovative ways to draw fans to the stadium. One thing teams do is to plan a mobile tour around a region that follows the team. Teams will bring selected players, a mascot and cheerleaders to hold events to create more interest. Why haven’t the Bruins and the Celtics done this? They may have, but it sure has not been promoted to the local media.

After the Red Sox and Patriots won the World Series and Super Bowl, respectively, they held events in VT, NH, Maine, CT and RI to thank the fans for their support. This is a great PR/marketing move for the teams. The events are easy to plan, cost-effective and the local fans will remember this event for a while.

As the Bruins and the Celtics continue to drive traffic to the Garden, they should have thought about planning mobile tour events throughout New England during the summer. Who really knows all the new players on the Bruins? Unless you are a passionate basketball fan, do you know all the new faces with the Celtics?

Think about it? How easy would it be to hold an event in Portland, ME, Concord or Manchester, NH, Burlington, VT and in Providence to reach out to the peripheral sports fans that know about the teams' rich histories, but maybe don’t follow the teams as much as they did in the past.

The Celtics and the Bruins must break away from the old-fashion marketing activities to create interest with fans today.

This Should Be Concerning to MLB

According to an article on, "Spike TV said more men 18-34 tuned into its live Ultimate Fighting Championship card Tuesday night than to the Major League Baseball playoffs on Fox. Spike said the UFC card drew 1.6 million men 18-34, compared with 1.1 million for game one of the American League Championship Series on Fox, in which the Detroit Tigers beat the host Oakland Athletics."

MLB needs to pull out all these national TV advertisements before the playoffs begin to generate interest in the games, not during the playoffs. Wow…it's a sad day when baseball loses out to UFC.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Bruins Making Smart PR and Marketing Moves

Many of you have heard of some of the changes the Bruins have been making lately. Heidi Holland, the director of PR, has been moved to a new position or is no longer with the team. I have been told, the organization has two openings in its PR department. The team is "cleaning house" and bringing in some "new blood."

Editor's Note: I am not applying to these positions due to other opportunities in the pipeline.

Thankfully, from a marketing standpoint, they are starting to promote their players to the city, which will help them sell tickets in the long run. It's been a while, other than the Leary commercials, since the team really marketed its players. The ticket office has been concerned lately since they haven’t sold as many tickets as they had hoped. Could that be because peripheral hockey/sports fans don’t even know who is on the roster?

Below are items from the Bruins newsletter which was sent out earlier this week and are positive ways to gain marketshare within the Boston community this season:

* Welcome the Bruins back to Boston as they face off against Jarome Iginla and the Calgary Flames. Don't miss great prizes, tee-shirt giveaways, and contests throughout the game. Plus, fans who register during the game will have the opportunity to obtain post-game photos with Bruins players!
Don't forget - kids 12 and under get in for free!

Offering post game photos is a great way to create an "experience" for children which will hopefully make them hockey fans for life. Think of the success the Red Sox have had when offering fans the opportunity to take pictures with their players. Also, it’s a smart idea to let kids in for free to create the family atmosphere.

* What's Bruin Around Town?
B's vs. Blues Viewing Party - Tomorrow!
Thursday, October 12th at 7:00 p.m. @ The Greatest Bar
Don't miss your chance to win Bruins tickets, autographed merchandise, and other cool prizes such as a new iPod or a Bud Light snowboard! The Boston Bruins, along with Budweiser are hosting a "Bruins Viewing Party" at The Greatest Bar, located at 262 Friend Street. Come meet the Bruins Ice Girls and watch the B's take on the St. Louis Blues.

This is something they need to do regularly in different parts of the city and surrounding towns to generate interest in the team. They receive very little media or fan attention. This is a cheap and inexpensive way for at least the Bruins Ice Girls to interact with fans.

* Celebrity Bartending with the Bruins
Tuesday, October 17th from 6:00-8:00 p.m. @ Sports Grille Boston
Join the Boston Bruins and Miller Lite for a night on the town! Come see members of the Bruins as they serve drinks on Tuesday, October 17th from 6 - 8:00 p.m. at Sports Grille Boston, located at 132 Canal Street in Boston. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door.
All proceeds benefit the Boston Bruins Foundation.

If the Bruins are smart, they will ensure television crews and even a radio station is at this event. The PR department really needs to market the hell out of this to fans. This is the one event before the home opener for the players to connect with the Bruins faithful. If the team is smart, they will host events like this in the future.

* Patrice's Pals
This season, Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron is unveiling his latest community effort, Patrice's Pals. Throughout the season, Patrice will invite children and their families from local hospitals and non-profit organizations to Bruins home games to sit in the Patrice's Pals Luxury Box and receive the ultimate VIP game experience. Last week, Patrice visited Children's Hospital Boston to meet Cole Pasqualucci, a patient, and Patrice's first guest in the suite on the October 19th home opener.

Great community relations investment and they make fans of the families for life.

The Bruins are finally on the right track.

This Sure Wouldn’t Happen in Boston

Interesting article in the Contra Costa Times regarding Oakland A’s playoff tickets.

"A flood of A's tickets on Craigslist, and elsewhere left online sellers, ticket brokers and stadium scalpers grumbling Tuesday, some of them nonplussed by the weak demand for a major sporting event.

Online brokers said they could barely unload many lower-priced tickets at face value. At McAfee Coliseum before the game, scalpers made half-hearted attempts to sell tickets at exorbitant prices before retreating to face value or lower and pleading for offers."

McAfee Coliseum, if I remember correctly, has less seats available than Fenway. The team closed off the third tier of seats to make it more "lively" during the games.

It always surprises me when I hear that playoffs games are no sold out. During Atlanta's many postseason appearances, fans could walk up and buy tickets the day of the game. This is just amazing.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Marketing High School Football

Is it just me or has high school football become the new sport to promote and market? Over the last few years we have seen a rise in interest in arena football, poker and the NHL – well, after it came back from a year in hibernation. Each time the sport was promoted and marketing like crazy for a couple of years until it reached a saturation point with audience. High school football is on this track.

At the moment, sports fans can watch Friday Night Lights on NBC, read a weekly two-page scorecard in Sports Illustrated on the top high school teams in the country and now according to BrandWeek, "Toyota will sponsor 45-second vignettes to be broadcast during the NBC Sunday Night Halftime Show that examine the passion for high school football in the U.S."

The article noted:

"Hosted by a pair of 22-year-olds, 'Jon & J.J. Visit the Line of Scrimmage' will debut Sunday with a feature on a team based in Clovis, Calif., and run through the end of the year.

The pair will travel the U.S. to seven high schools, including campuses in Ohio, Georgia, and Texas, in search of football programs that stand out for their passion and, in some cases, oddball traditions

From a sports marketing perspective, high school football is still an untapped market at the national level. Over the last year, ESPN has started to show high school games regularly during the season. The sport has passionate fans and boosters supporting their schools, parents of the athletes and football fans in general. If I was a company whose target market were males ages 15-34, I would be sponsoring and advertising like crazy at the national level. The NFL and college football have their "core sponsors" and I bet ESPN is looking to do the same with high school sports.

I just wonder though if people are putting to much pressure on these kids. Let them have fun until they get to college and football becomes their 9 to 5 job. I assume most of you have heard the story of Hoover, Ala., who was the number one high team in the country until they lost last weekend. This team receives so much money from boosters that they put the team in a hotel before home games? Are you kidding me? What for? The teams are not driving a lot of revenue to the school, just to football. They shouldn't (but are) be recruiting kids from other districts or states to play on the team. How much national exposure do they really need?

People continue to look for the next "great athlete" and maybe I'm old fashion, but marketing high school football seems a little much.

Game of Shadows and Sports Reporting Moving Forward

Bob Smiley brought up a great issue that I am disappointed I didn’t address sooner. In his most recent post titled, "I don't recall," he discussed the unfortunate situation for San Francisco Chronicle reporters Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams.

The fact these two reporters have to go to court to protect their sources is freakin absurd. These two reporters helped to shed light of a serious, serious issue and may have saved lives in the process? Saved lives you ask? A lot of children today want to emulate their athletic heroes. If Barry Bonds and Jason Giambi are using steroids to stay on top, some children may decide to try them as well. These two reporters should be given medals, not thrown in jail.

From a lawyer perspective, why can’t they just "plead the fifth" on every question that is asked of them? At this point, I will be shocked if they don’t get thrown in jail. What would be interesting though, is what if their source is someone like Jeff Novtony – the lead investigator for the government? That would be a PR nightmare for a lot of people in this country.

The President of the United States brought these two reporters to the White House to thank them for uncovering this amazing story. But then, on the flip side, he won't go to bat for them as the wait to determine their fate in court. Cases like this and the reporter from the NY Times is going to change reporting as we know it. Where does it end? Can the courts come after bloggers in the future?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Boston is a Small City

Once we all moved to Boston, it didn't take long to learn that Boston is a small, small city. You see the same people at bars and then will randomly run into them on the T. When something interesting happens in the city, news spreads like wildfire.

Anheuser-Busch was not thinking clearly when it decided to sponsor a showing of the World Cup trophy in the North End. As Bill Simmons has written regularly, sports teams need to hire a "common sense" coach. Well-known corporations, like AB, need to hire a "common sense" manager.

It was reported that the World Cup trophy was the authentic article won by Italy in July. People paid five dollars to have their picture taken with the trophy. Politicians, including the Mayor, attended this grand event. Now, up to this point, this is a positive, feel-good PR opp for AB.

But wait, it couldn't be this easy. According to the Boston Globe, on Friday, "Anheuser-Busch said it was the trophy that will go to the winning team in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa."

Hmm…why not tell people from the beginning this was the case? Thankfully, they decided to be proactive since they knew Boston was a small city and people would find out somehow. If they had a "common sense" manager, this person could have asked the event management staff if they were crazy and were ready to handle the PR fallout.

In the grand scheme of things, there was very little PR fallout. Mayor Menino planned to write them a nasty letter. Anheuser-Busch "also pledged to donate proceeds from the photos to charity, to match those proceeds with a donation from the company, and to cover any city costs."

Who was involved with making this decision to not have the trophy won by Italy? Why not be honest from the start. People still would have come to see the trophy. Where is the common sense manager when you need them?

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The NFL Has Lost It

What is up with the NFL's marketing department? Have they gotten hit in the head too many times? Why in the world do they believe it's a good idea to follow in the footsteps of Doritos and GM? Maybe I don't understand marketing.

"THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE WILL invite fans to pitch ideas for the league's commercial that will run during Super Bowl XLI in February.

Following the rule of three, the NFL joins game sponsors Doritos and General Motors in welcoming consumers to conceptualize a spot that will then be developed by the client.

Brian McCarthy, a spokesperson for the NFL, confirmed the league is finalizing plans to 'launch a contest in which fans are invited to pitch us on their idea for an NFL-themed spot.' The commercial will air during the Super Bowl as part of the NFL's advertising time in the game."

When is the last time you saw a company take an audiences' idea for a commercial and then use it on television? You haven't, because it would be a PR and marketing nightmare. The viewers don't completely understand all the messaging and marketing issues that must be taken into account.

The viewers "may" be able to develop flashy commercials, but will they really drive additional traffic to the sport?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

MLB Uses Lasorda to Woo Baseball Fans in Losing Cities

According to Brand Week, MLB "breaks a campaign today starring Los Angeles Dodger fixture Tommy Lasorda traveling to different cities wearing a tuxedo and using 'tough love' to help despondent fans whose favorite teams are not in the playoffs."

Does he plan to come to Boston to convince some Sotuhie kid drinking Buds at the Cask that he should be watching the Yankees in the playoffs? Can we make this commerical "reality-based" to see what happens?

The campaign theme is "Real fans don't hide in October. They celebrate it!" "It includes three TV spots, print, radio ads and MLB's most ‘extensive postseason online media buy,’ according to a league official."

This new postseason media buy is all fine and dandy expect for a couple of items:

* One, if you have ever met Tommy Lasorda, you know he is not the nicest person in the world. When the cameras are rolling he’s great, but when they are off it's a different story.

* Why does MLB wait until the end of the year to pull out these campaigns? This drives me up a wall every year. The sport needs to watch how the NFL and NBA uses their media buys throughout the year. I understand more people are watching fewer games in October and the games are on national TV. It is an opportune time to reach a large percentage of their target audience.

* My issue has always been, why don’t they spend more money on media buys during spring training, when the league and its team are trying to generate interest and sell tickets for the upcoming season. At this point, most of the fans watching games are rooting for specific teams.

Someday I am going to work at MLB headquarters in NYC and find out what they are thinking.

A Sports Team Finally Sees the Light

Wow…I was excited when I read the following article since it showed that sports teams are slowing understanding the importance of social computing and its role in marketing the team. It's taken them many years to finally join today's technology-focused society. How hard would it be to hire interns who live and breathe social computing to handle all the back-end issues for an organization?

Each sports team needs to continue to find ways to break away from the traditional media clutter.

Earlier this week, MediaPost wrote an article titled, "Bengals Kick Off Fan Video Site." The article reported:

"THE CINCINNATI BENGALS HAVE BECOME the first NFL team to launch a site where fans can post user-created videos. The new video site, hosted by technology firm ViTrue, which runs user-generated promotional sites for clients, will be part of the Fan Zone section of the Bengals team site ("

As I have ranted on this site regularly, this is a great way to drive traffic to the site. The Bengals need to find ways to divert the media and its fans attention away from stories about which of its players are headed to court or jail. This site could offer some decent PR if an exciting clip is posted online.

I also like how Vince Cicero, the Bengals director of corporate sales and marketing, is trying to be forward thinking and wants to take a risk to try to drive up ticket sales in the future. In the story, it noted:

"No advertising or sponsorships tied to the fan videos have been developed yet, but Cicero expects the site will eventually include some type of corporate sponsorship. 'This is all still new for us,' he said."

I would be shocked if local and national sponsors aren't calling Vince already to discuss ways to sponsor the site.

This is a smart, smart idea for the team.

Baseball Players Did Steroids?

In the October issue of Editor & Publisher, "Senior Editor Joe Strupp interviewed more than a dozen beat writers and sports editors about what they should have covered as far back as 20 years ago when steroids are believed to have entered baseball at a measurable level. Overwhelmingly, the consensus was that signs of a problem, and potential proof of abuse, were there as far back as the mid-1980s."

Hmmm….you think there might have been a problem with steroids in the late 80s and early 90s? When Brady Anderson hits over 50 home runs in a year and never more than 30 any other time in his life? That should be a red flag. What about when Luis Gonzalez hit 57 homeruns in 2001 and never more than 28 in any other year?

Look at some of the homerun leaders in the 1990s:

1995: Dante Bichette (Col) 40
1996: Andres Galarraga (Col) 40
1997: Larry Walker (Col) 49

I understand these players batted at Coors field and the ball is lighter, the air is lighter, yadda, yadda, yadda. These players are not Hall of Fame-type material and never led baseball in home runs at any other time in their careers. Reporters should have stopped to say, "Hmm…there is something wrong with this."

Here are some reasons why they didn't address the issue?

* Most sportswriters love the game of baseball and do not want to believe athletes would cheat to ruin "America's pastime".

* Their readers didn't want to wake up in the morning and learn that their heroes are cheaters.

* There was no factual evidence. Who was going to talk? If a columnist wrote a story that steroids were used all throughout baseball, people would question it without the facts. Reporters and fans didn't want to believe it had entered the game.

Last, and most importantly, is the commissioner's office was doing nothing about this "black eye." If the commissioner’s office has a story it wants to get out, they can call a plethora of national reporters who will cover any news item. If they had wanted to, they really could have done a better job controlling how fans found out about steroids in baseball.

People thought the strike in 1994 would kill baseball. It's no where close to being dead, but the steroid issue will definitely leave a black cloud over the sport moving forward.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Sports Ramblings News and Notes

It has been awhile since I’ve had a chance to blog due to my contracting projects at the moment. Below are a couple of quick items I have noticed recently:

Tom Brady Buys a Condo in NYC

It has been reported for a while that during the off-season, Tom Brady regularly visits NYC to go out in the city to relax. When was the last time you saw Brady in Boston? I can’t. Bostonians, for some reason, are more interested in their sports personality than the Hollywood types. Brady can’t go anywhere in the city without being mobbed. Brady can go to NYC and no one bats an eye. I believe that was one of the main reasons he bought a condo there.

As we all know, Boston is an extremely small city. Not much that goes on in this city stays quiet – especially if you are the quarterback of three Super Bowl winning teams. Why would anyone care about this? Professional athletes who move to Boston always complain that they can never go out in the city to relax – this needs to be addressed somehow in the future.

Fantasy Hockey – The Next Level of Fantasy Sports

You have to be impressed with the NHL’s marketing department. They are trying a variety of different ideas to generate interest in the upcoming season. I am glad to see they are starting to understand the importance of fantasy sports and its role in generating more NHL viewers. In a recent e-mail I received, the NHL wrote “And, most exciting of all, WATCH your players perform.'s free fantasy game is the ONLY on-line fantasy game that provides post-game highlights of the players on your roster!”

Do you really need to see game highlights of your fantasy players? Personally, I don’t, but if it draws traffic to sport and the NHL Web site, then it’s a smart idea.

MLB, Marketing and its History

One of the things I have never understood is why MLB does not do a better job marketing its history. The sport has more history than all the other American sports combined. Do they market this? No. And MLB wonders why the sport is not popular.

This year is the 50th anniversary of Larsen’s perfect game and Bobby Thompson’s “shot heard around the world.” Has anyone heard about these anniversaries? Any national sports articles or mentions on television? There is a reporter who just finished a book on Thompson’s homerun, but what have we heard about Larsen.

If MLB was smart, they would have a department that spent all its time marketing baseball’s history -- to baby boomers and young fans a like. This is definitely an untapped area for the sport.