SBD/October 21, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Going Nuts: Cardinals' Rally Squirrel Proving To Be A Boon To Marketers During World Series

St. Louis retailers having a hard time keeping Rally Squirrel gear in stock
MLB Senior VP/Licensing Howard Smith on Thursday said Cardinals "Rally Squirrel" gear has been a "shockingly large" part of the overall World Series merchandising business thus far, and that the gear will likely be a key part of the holiday-selling season should the Cardinals win the Series. Smith declined to specify percentages or sales totals to date, but he confirmed comments from outside retailers and concessionaires that keeping the items in stock remains a continuous effort. "This is another instance that shows the power of what can happen when the players get involved," Smith said. "This has become a rallying cry for them, and that in turn has really resonated with fans." Smith added it was difficult to compare the Rally Squirrel phenomenon to the Claw and Antlers craze that began last year for the Rangers since the latter was a season-long element while Rally Squirrel is less than three weeks old. Sales of fleece and other warm-weather gear have also predictably trended ahead of normal projections given the chilly temperatures in which Games One and Two in St. Louis were played (Eric Fisher, SportsBusiness Journal). In St. Louis, Kavita Kumar writes the “unexpected mascot of the Cardinals' postseason has been serendipitous for a whole host of area businesses and entrepreneurs,” as they now can “cash in on World Series fever without fear of violating any trademarks.” Businesses that “normally would need a license to sell Cardinals-related gear have flooded the market with all things rodent-related, from car decals to headbands to a myriad of T-shirts" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/21). In Ft. Worth, David Thomas reports there are "Rally Squirrel" and "got squirrels?" shirts for sale at Busch Stadium, and in "stores around town other T-shirts, including one with the Rally Squirrel underneath the Gateway Arch" that reads, "I Am Your Arch Enemy." There are also Rally Squirrel "foam fingers, with claws extended," selling for $14 at the ballpark, while a 64-ounce bucket of peanuts called "Rally Nuts" go for $9 (FT. WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM, 10/21).

BEWARE OF KNOCK-OFF GOODS: In St. Louis, Lisa Brown notes two dozen officials from MLB Properties' licensing group “spent the week in area shops and streets on the lookout for counterfeit merchandise.” Just prior to the start of World Series Game One, two MLB attorneys “spotted vendors hawking fake goods a few blocks from Busch Stadium.” Police “confiscated more than 1,100 counterfeit items from those vendors.” MLB Properties Senior VP & General Counsel Ethan Orlinsky said that the seizure was “larger than the amount confiscated during a single night of most World Series games” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 10/21).
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