SBD/October 4, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Cabrera Has Triple Crown, But Will An Increase In Marketing Deals Follow?

Cabrera's limited English could hinder his attractiveness to certain brands
Tigers 3B Miguel Cabrera yesterday became the first player to win MLB’s Triple Crown since ’67, but whether that means “his face shows up on cereal boxes and in TV commercials amid a windfall of lucrative endorsement deals remains to be seen,” according to Bill Shea of CRAIN’S DETROIT BUSINESS. Cabrera for years has been “one of baseball's premier hitters, but that's never translated into mass-market merchandising appeal.” Sports industry marketers theorize that Cabrera's “sketchy history of personal behavior in recent years and his limited command of spoken English may have limited his attractiveness to brands.” The Marketing Arm Sports Marketing Dir Darin David said, "From a memorabilia standpoint, he's going to cash in immediately. It remains to be seen on how brands pursue him. He's not one of the more recognizable players in baseball. This will certainly raise him a big level." Cabrera earns $21M annually from the Tigers, and David estimated that Cabrera will “earn at least a couple million more from endorsements and deals with autograph and merchandise dealers.” He added that there is “money to be made in endorsements for products targeting Spanish-language audiences.” Shea reports Cabrera has an endorsement deal now for Maltin Polar, a "nonalcoholic malt beer brewed and sold in his native Venezuela,” and he has “done advertising for Metro PCS and Venezuela's state-owned Citgo Petroleum Corp.” But a “drag on Cabrera's marketing potential is his personal history.” Cabrera underwent “three months of alcohol treatment prior to the 2010 season,” and he “pleaded no contest to a drunken driving charge after a February 2011 arrest” earlier this year. David said that also hurting Cabrera from potentially earning more “is a lack of hype surrounding the Triple Crown” (CRAINSDETROIT.com, 10/4). In Detroit, Drew Sharp notes Tigers P Justin Verlander after the Triple Crown became official “gave Cabrera a luxurious watch” he had inscribed with “Congratulations, Miguel Cabrera, 2012 Triple Crown” (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 10/4).

WHERE'S THE HYPE? USA TODAY’s Bob Nightengale writes Cabrera’s Triple Crown “still seemed lost in the dark ages,” as only “three national baseball writers were in attendance to document the event” last night. ESPN previously had announced it would cut from its Red Sox-Yankees telecast to the Tigers-Royals game for each of Cabrera's at-bats, but the net “did not cut in to Cabrera’s at-bats, sticking with live coverage of the New York Yankees’ chase for a division title” (USA TODAY, 10/4). YAHOO SPORTS’ Eric Adelson writes it is “unfortunate that Cabrera's lifetime achievement is drowning in the topics of the day.” Baseball people “spent Wednesday gossiping about the division races and a mascot race in Washington,” and the lack of interest is “perplexing, really.” Adelson: “There hasn't been around-the-clock coverage. Tim Tebow gets more attention. There are a few reasons for this.” Cabrera is “big and strong and because of that will never fully escape steroid questions, nor will any successful ballplayer these days.” Cabrera also “isn't the most beloved baseball player out there.” Adelson: “He is not glib, at least not in English, which most American baseball reporters speak exclusively. There have been revealing profiles about Cabrera, but he's mostly a mystery” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/3).
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