Acknowledging the affect the work stoppage has had on
merchandise sales, MLB Properties is planning several retail
initiatives with the aim of "thanking fans for their loyalty,"
while also "spurring consumer interest."
Among those is a promotion dubbed "Fan Appreciation Weeks,"
in which fans will be given the chance to receive a free gift
with a minimum purchase of MLB licensed merchandise, including
Minor League and Negro League merchandise. The minimum dollar
amount will be determined by each club, but Melinda Klaber,
Retail Merchandising Manager for MLB Properties, estimates it
will probably be around $25. The "gift-with-purchase" will be a
significant number Limited Edition "Fotoballs" featuring the
125th Anniversary logo, with some signed by Brooks Robinson.
Klaber says the gift-purchase promotion is still in its
preliminary stages, with certain aspects, including advertising
messages, to be developed. But the kick-off is set for Friday,
November 25, and will last two weeks. That Friday -- the day
after Thanksgiving -- is traditionally the highest grossing
retail sales day of the year.
Klaber expects all 28 teams to take part. At an estimated
potential gross of $50,000 per club, "Fan Appreciation Weeks"
could bring in $1.4 million.
The ad campaign to be launched in conjunction with the
promotion -- presently projected to be print ads in each club's
local newspaper paid for by MLB Properties -- will likely focus
more on the "fan appreciation" idea than any direct reference to
the strike. But MLB Public Relations Manager Jim Small sums up
the motivation: "Baseball is still alive and kicking. The game
will go on."
MLB Properties is also suggesting the clubs embark on other
retail initiatives, such as ticket give-aways, and sweepstakes
with prizes such as throw-out-the-first pitch, or be a
batboy/batgirl-for-a-day (THE DAILY).
Amtrak "is so exasperated by being the butt" of Jay Leno's
jokes on NBC's "Tonight Show" that it has decided to "yank" about
$2M in advertising from NBC (WASHINGTON POST,
10/14)....Enviromint has been licensed by MLB to mint a limited
edition of 5,714 pure silver half pound medallions, commemorating
Nolan Ryan's strikeout record. A 24-karat gold select version
has also been minted and restricted to 324 pieces in honor of
Ryan's career wins (Enviromint). ....Universal Electronics will
launch the Sports Clicker -- a one-for-all TV/VCR/Cable box
remote in the shape of a football. The NFL-licensed and themed
remote device will be available for the holidays. The company
hopes to follow with remotes licensed by MLB, NBA and the NHL
(BRANDWEEK, 10/10 issue)....ESPN and Tommy Boy Music join in a
new marketing venture for a new 15-song album, "ESPN Presents
Jock Rock." The CD/cassette consists of sports anthems, chants
and cheers frequently heard at ballparks and arenas (BRANDWEEK,
10/10 issue)....After nearly two years of delays, Nike Inc. has
decided to go-ahead on construction of a $13.5M superstore in
Boston. The store will be located just a few doors away from "a
similar but smaller concept store" run by Reebok (BOSTON GLOBE,
10/13)....Joining the ranks of the other three pro sports, the
NHL is "readying a grassroots roller hockey program that will
roll out next summer in a handful of markets." The NHL roller
hockey tournament will be held at between five and eight NHL
cities next summer, with player appearances and local team
support. The venture is being compared to the NBA's successful
"Hoop-it-Up" 3-on-3 tournament (BRANDWEEK, 10/10 issue).
The baseball strike and the "near-lockout" in hockey are
causing "big problems for the sports card and T-shirt industries.
And unless something happens quickly in one or both sports, the
season to be jolly could be anything but." Some sports retailers
admit if the work stoppages continue, "Christmas is going to
hurt." Everyone agrees the labor strife "is causing short-term
problems, but industry officials say it's too early to tell what
will happen to the market in the long run" (Jim Byers, TORONTO
Dr. Tom Pashby, "an internationally respected expert in
hockey equipment safety," is calling for a performance standard
for pucks. Some pucks made in China have been breaking and other
imports, such as the Russian puck, have been known to contain
metal fragments. Pashby tested six pucks at Canadian Standards
Association (CSA) labs, one from China and the others from
Russian, Canada and the Czech Republic. The TORONTO STAR x-rayed
the pucks Pashby used and no metal fragments were found in any of
them, however an air bubble or softer rubber in the middle was
found in a puck from the Czech Republic. Pashby said that if a
CSA standard is set, factories around the world would have
"surprise visits at unannounced intervals to have pucks pulled
off the assembly line for testing" (Lois Kalchman, TORONTO STAR,