SBD/April 2, 2013/MLB Season Preview

Louisville Slugger Debuts New Logo, Ad Campaign Aimed At Younger Generation

Louisville Slugger during Sunday's Rangers-Astros MLB season opener debuted its "new logo and marketing effort," along with a "social-media effort including the #LeaveYourMark hashtag," according to Jack Neff of AD AGE. The Louisville Slugger brand "commands" a 60% to 70% share of the U.S. wood-bat market, which has more than $25M in annual sales. Parent company Hillerich & Bradsby VP/Marketing Kyle Schlegel said that its bats are "used by 55% of MLB players." However, it is "losing cachet and recognition for product performance among top high-school and college players." They are the "big customers, coaches and influencers of tomorrow, and they've been migrating to newer, hipper brands such as Marucci and Demarini." In addition to the company's "first logo update" since '79, its new efforts include "a major product upgrade." Dallas-based MEplusYOU is the "lead agency on the relaunch, with Omnicom's Interbrand having handled design, including the new logo, and Doe Anderson, Louisville, handling PR." Schlegel said that partnerships with MLB, Baseball America and chains such as Dick's Sporting Goods "will also play a key role." While he declined to disclose spending, it is "well under" eight-figures (AD AGE, 4/1 issue). In N.Y., Stuart Miller noted Louisville Slugger is "selling the bats retail, the first time the top-quality wood has been made available to the general public." MLB Prime Maple bats "are $119 apiece, Prime Ash $99 and regular maple $89." In recent years, a "surge in boutique manufacturers creating their own niches has taken bat making in two directions: a return to its roots, with an emphasis on craftsmanship over automated manufacturing, and a high-tech approach." Hillerich & Bradsby Dir of Wood Bat Operations Bob Hillerich said, "We had grown complacent. ... What our competitors were doing opened my eyes" (NYTIMES.com, 4/1).
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