My blog title has been my view of the world of advertising and marketing for quite awhile. I had used (Sponsor's Name Here) for my Fantasy Football League teams as far back as 1993. The reason?
It was during that summer when the Milwaukee Brewers (along with the Detroit Tigers) were the first major league teams to allow advertising behind home plate during games, so that it is visible during every pitch. Around the same time, my bowling had more talent than money (and in hindsight, I probably had similar amounts of each, but, well, you know...) I thought that if I could just get a sponsor to throw some money at me so that I could afford to bowl in tournaments, I could make enough to no longer need a sponsor.
The bowling sponsorship was DOA, but I was spot-on about everything else being for sale.
The home plate advertising didn't make a lot of sense to me, however. Sure it started with small market teams in desperate financial straits. But lets say the Brewers could sell each advertiser for the entire season for $100,000 (and I don't know how much it really did cost). If the Brewers could get $100K, isn't it safe to assume that the New York Yankees could get $500,000 or more per advertiser?
In essence, the more revenue the Brewers could generate, the more the large market teams could make five-fold. All it did was to put the Brewers further in the hole.
Before long, every team in baseball had advertising behind home plate (some teams with multiple signs). Along the way, the dugout roof, the tarp cover, the back wall of the dugout, multiple seating sections, and almost every other available space in a stadium is covered in advertising. Other circumstances (collective bargaining which included revenue sharing, competitive balance drafts, new stadia, etc) have narrowed the disparity of revenue income and talent level between the Yankees and Brewers, but the fact remains that the Brewers have to constantly come up with new revenue streams and benefit from them before the Yankees steal (and improve upon) the idea.
My good friend, I will call him John from New Berlin, and I were at the Brewers game on Sunday, and though they came back for the win, the game was dreadful for the first six innings or so. We talked a lot about the mid-90s Brewers (which made me think about that first home plate advertising sign, and therefore this blog entry). We continued the conversation about back-up catchers (Rick Wrona, Dave Valle, and Joe Kmak anybody) and nondescript Opening Day pitchers (Rafael Roque and Ricky Bones TWICE) as the Briggs and Stratton roulette commercial played on the scoreboard, then the US Cellular Karaoke commercial played (at least it was Bon Jovi this time).
The bottom line that there is only two things that I can think of (and one is not allowed... yet) that haven't been touched. I don't want to mention what it is, but it includes cowbells, tail feathers and Germans bombing Pearl Harbor.
It started before the game started. Over a half-dozen veterans were introduced to the still-assembling crowd. But they weren't just there, they were brought to us by (an advertiser). We met a cancer survivor (with most of that introduction including how wonderful where the survival occurred). Then came the ceremonial first pitch(es)... about four of them. All presented by (an advertiser). National Anthem singer? Brought to us by (an advertiser). Even the game ball was delivered by (an advertiser). Once the game started, we had the rock climbing wall (up a big advertisement), the shell game (with a prize awarded by an advertiser), another veteran that was introduced from the top of the dugout (courtesy of an advertiser), the sausage race (well, duh) and even the "fan" that stole second base was advertising.
(Side note; I'm going somewhere with this. Just go with me.)
I will acknowledge that the Brewers sell all of these advertising opportunities, and they do use them to fill time between innings (for example, which is better? Helping some fan find the "Ticket Oak" or a 30 second commercial?). And despite a deep-seeded belief that none of the nine veterans would be within 10 miles of the ballpark without sponsorship dollars in hand, the fact is it did give the fans a chance to recognize them.
My point is that everything is for sale. I would say that the Brewers have already saturated the "gameday experience" (I feel so dirty saying that) with sponsor blasts. But that would mean that only two options exist. Either I am dead wrong and we ain't seen nothin' yet, or else the Brewers are in trouble if they can't find anything else to sell.
Which brings us to college football.
Me? Not a big fan. Too many teams, too much turnover, too many games to watch (and I always end up watching the ones that have a 31-3 halftime score). Lots of people love college football, and God Bless them. But not much appeal to me.
However, the other day was a lazy Saturday in the ol' James household, and I had opportunity to check into a number of games. And it is brutally clear that many, many schools have sold their souls to allow their teams to be outfitted in the most abominable creations ever seen on TV.
Clearly - clearly - uniforms are no longer symbols of the school. Think of Nebraska (Solid red shirts, white pants and white helmets with a block N). Or even Wisconsin (same basic look). So what in the world was this about? And the red helmets? What?
(Cycling back to the Brewers for a second, they are guilty of using uniforms as advertising for merchandise sales. Why else would the Brewers have worn NINE different uniform tops this season? Ten if you include this spring training uniform. Eleven counting the camo one for Memorial Day.)
At least the Brewers nine different uniforms this season mostly (not crazy about Sunday gold) respect the senses.