SBJ/December 17-23, 2012/Year End

12 Highs, lows and uh-ohs

This partnership’s for the birds

The no-duh marketing deal of the year may belong to the Philadelphia Eagles, who partnered with Rovio Entertainment, the creators of the popular “Angry Birds” game. The highlight was the launch of an “Angry Birds” game featuring the Eagles mascot in a very natural role.

Silly String will get you fired
It seemed like a harmless prank when Kelly Frank, in her costumed role as the Tampa Bay Lightning’s ThunderBug mascot, sprayed a Boston Bruins fan with Silly String at a Jan. 17 game. But the fan took offense and pushed ThunderBug down, a moment caught on camera and viewed by thousands on YouTube. The team, stung by the bad PR, dismissed Frank.

On second thought, the number’s fine
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson toyed with the idea of changing his number for the 2012 season, but bagged the thought after learning it would cost him “a million bucks” to do so. Players who switched numbers in recent years had to pay Reebok, the league’s uniform supplier at the time, a refund for existing jerseys. Peterson did the math: the number 28 has far fewer digits.

Photo by: NBAE / Getty Images
And now, your starting lineup!
Who needs light shows and videos to spice up player intros when you have Will Ferrell? The actor was filming a movie in New Orleans in February when he stopped by the arena to introduce team lineups prior to a Bulls-Hornets game. He took liberties with player bios, reserving most of the ribbing for the visiting Bulls. A sampling:
■ “At forward, No. 5, he still lives with his mother … Carlos Boozer.”
■ “At forward, No. 9, he collects rare birds and has a pet dolphin named Chachi … Luol Deng.”
■ “And at guard, No. 1, his favorite movie is ‘The Notebook’ … Derrick Rose.”

I’m also a client
Sure, New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker can catch, but he’s good at pitching, too. Such was the case after Welker underwent a hair restoration procedure at Leonard Hair Transplant Associates. He liked his locks so much, he later appeared in television, radio and print ads with Dr. Robert Leonard to talk about his experience and to raise awareness about hair loss.

Label this a blunder
When Ralph Lauren unveiled the uniforms that Team USA would wear in the London Olympics, all seemed well. That is, until someone realized that the uniforms were made in China. The discovery set off a firestorm of criticism, from sports radio to the halls of Congress. Stung by the backlash, Ralph Lauren said the 2014 Sochi Games uniforms will be made in the USA.

We lose, but free pizza!

Toronto-based Pizza Pizza and the Raptors have a tasty promotion that calls for a free slice of pizza for everyone in the house when the team scores 100 points. But in the waning moments of a losing game to the Orlando Magic in March, fans still began cheering as their club hit the 100-point mark. Said Raptors coach Dwane Casey: “It’s tough when your fans get more excited about a slice of pizza than us winning.”

Finding the leak
So much for secrets. First, the Houston Astros’ new logo was leaked when several Houston-area sports stores accidently, and prematurely, began selling merchandise with the rebranded look. Then MLB Advanced Media inadvertently posted photos of players in their new uniforms on Astros.com bio pages.

Photo by: Getty Images
Jimmie Johnson’s new look
NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson stoically conducted interviews at the June race at Dover despite the hilarity of wearing a colorful wig used to promote the animated movie “Madagascar 3.” Johnson received the wig from a gift bag intended for his daughter. Before long, his entire crew had requested wigs of their own. The movie sponsored Johnson’s car for the race, but the driver’s impromptu decision to wear the wig gave some free, and hilarious, added exposure.

Chargers sales pitch gets axed
When a San Diego Chargers ticket sales representative searched for ways to boost his numbers, he didn’t stop at Bolts fans. Instead, he sent an email seeking out rival fans to go to Qualcomm Stadium. When news of the effort spread, the team said the approach was the result of an overeager sales rep and wasn’t standard practice.

Waste no bobblehead
A crowd of 45,091 attended an August Cincinnati Reds-Philadelphia Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park that featured a bobblehead giveaway for right fielder Hunter Pence, despite the fact that the Phillies had traded Pence to the San Francisco Giants three weeks earlier. The bobblehead came with a postcard that included a message from Pence that read in part, “Thanks, Phillies fans, for the great memories. I’m glad my Bobble Figurine will still be given out even though I’m no longer in Philadelphia.”

Earthquakes dig this record
At the San Jose Earthquakes’ groundbreaking ceremony in October for a new stadium, Guinness World Records officials said that the attendance of exactly 6,256 people, most of them ordinary fans of the MLS club, surpassed the previous groundbreaking high mark of 4,532. Thousands of commemorative shovels were impaled in dirt where the pitch will be located. Fans and dignitaries staked out their spots and, on cue, dug for two minutes to set the official Guinness World Record.

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