Now that the baseball playoffs are over, it’s fun to try and figure out who has a chance to cash in on their teams’ success with new marketing opportunities.
I’d wager to say there were no true “breakout” stars from the postseason, as the Phillies and Yankees were more or less known commodities. Chase Utley might have gotten a bump with his huge power display, but he’s limited by his quiet nature. Hideki Matsui won the World Series MVP, but as a native of Japan, his commercial opportunities here in the U.S. may be limited. (In Asia, however, he’s huge.)
David Schwab of the sports agency Octagon put together a very nice analysis, which I’ll copy and paste here. I will only take issue with a couple points. One, I wonder why he’s even bothering to include Joba Chamberlain on this list at all. I can’t think of a single player who’s gotten more attention for doing so little in his career. And second, I’d say Mark Teixeira, despite his lackluster World Series performance, still can be considered a “winner” because he was playing on the biggest stage of his career. Prior to this season, he toiled in relative anonymity in Texas, but a postseason viewed by tens of millions of eyeballs helped boost his visibility, even if he didn’t show off his big bat.
HIDEKI MATSUI: MVP. What a fantastic World Series Game Six for him, literally minutes before becoming a free agent – six RBI’s (tying a World Series record). His stock is soaring back in Japan and Asia. Risk: As a free agent, he may not be in NY next year. But with Seattle Chicago and others in the mix, he’ll still end up on a team with international prominence.
CHASE UTLEY: It’s weird to have someone high from the losing team but what a post-season for Mr. Utley. He blossomed onto the national scene with five Home Runs in the World Series tying Reggie Jackson’s 32-year old record. Companies and PR firms will rack their brands to figure out how to incorporate that success into future campaigns. He is also a passionate dog lover and supporter which could make for a nice play. Downside and challenge is that he is humble and shy which will make national media interviews (when pushing a product) difficult. Creative departments will have to write scripts that fit his personality. (His management team has to take advantage of it now or wait until next October when a brand is looking for their next World Series spokesperson). We are now curious to see what his current partner EAS does with him next year (or even this week).
A-ROD: His stock could only go up after a troubled year off the field (steroids, marital problems and hip surgery). The media and fans expected the worst this post-season (as he has struggled before) but he has come up with clutch hit after clutch hit. He may go down as the greatest player to ever play baseball, but will a big company risk marketing dollars with an admitted steroid user? It hasn’t happened yet but he has the best chance of all the players to break through this issue. In the past, he was an endorsee of Pepsi, Guitar Hero (remember the commercial with Kobe, Phelps and Tony Hawk) and the face of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. I bet a company will use him in the next 12 months. (Does anyone even talk about the steroids usage by Andy Pettite anymore? Pettite has the chance of some NY-related deals too.)
MARIANO RIVERA: May go down as the greatest closer in MLB history and this post-season cemented that fact. I do think it would be worthwhile for a company with bi-lingual needs (Spanish & English) to invest in him. It would have to be a NY-based company or a MLB sponsor as people would need to see him in uniform for easy identification.
C.C.SABATHIA: You have already seen Subway restaurants include him in their print advertising (which just a month ago was only using Phillies Ryan Howard). At 6’7” and 290 lbs (size 42 pants), an oversized clothing retailer or other “large” product companies make the most logical sense for him. He will be in New York for a long time and expect him to have a Hall of Fame type career.
CLIFF LEE: He is similar to Utley quickly going from a Phillies success to a national name. But he still doesn’t have the star power of some of the Yankees. His name will be included on all marketing short lists that include “pitchers”.
DEREK JETER: He continues to perform every day. His plate is already full of endorsements. He has a Gillette partnership with Roger Federer and Tiger Woods and appeared in TV commercials for Gatorade, Visa, Nike (Jumpman) and more. He even has cologne named Driven. His Turn 2 Foundation is themed around teenagers avoiding drug and alcohol as well as rewarding educational success. The question is if there is one other corporation willing to pay premium dollars for the best in the business. I say yes.
THE NEXT JOE: We are not talking about Yankees skipper Joe Girardi but Joe Buck, FOX’s top MLB and NFL broadcaster. Buck stars in Budweiser commercials and he will continue to be at the forefront of programs needing a voice, moderator or host.
COLE HAMELS: Last year’s World Series MVP has taken a hit this post-season. His on the field struggles have left many in the talk radio space dissecting his role with the team. His Philadelphia fan base is strong and his good looks help his marketing appeal. But his national appeal (upside) took the biggest hit of anyone this fall.
MARK TEIXEIRA: Coming to NY as a free agent, he put a large amount of money in the bank (roughly $180 million). He also helped the Yankees all year round. Unfortunately, he has come up short in the World Series. And with the amount of Yankees around, he becomes just another “really good” face to the team. He works for on the field success (and local advertising) but not for a national ad campaign. He is an avid fisherman and hunter and I could see a deal in this space with a retail outlet and/or promotional appearances at fishing tournaments or private getaways with wealthy fans.
JOBA CHAMBERLAIN: Billed as the next great Yankees pitcher, he was moved into the bullpen late in the season and through the post-season. With that and the success of the Yankees starting pitcher, his national exposure diminished this fall (though his performance in Game Six helps). With so many other big names on the Yankees roster, he needs a solid year of on the field success to break through the Yankees clutter. Uniqueness: He is one of a handful Native American players in the MLB and has family still living on American Indian reservations. Negative: He had a DUI one year ago.
JOHNNY DAMON: He played great this post-season but with the success of others, he won’t end up being the “star” of the Games. And with that, his national appeal stays stagnant. Like Matsui, he is a free agent. If the Yankees choose to let him go during free agency, his stock will drop (can’t be better than his time with Boston and New York). Lastly, being injured in the third inning of Game Six prevented him from any last minute heroics too.
RYAN HOWARD: Already one of the Leagues’ marketing powerhouses; he had the chance to solidify himself as the “go to” endorsee in MLB. Ryan fell short. He is already the face of Subway’s baseball advertising efforts but heading in 2010, his national glamour will have cooled and others caught up to him. But don’t be shortsighted, he is still a dominant player in the Big Leagues and will be around for a long time both on and off the field (and his home run in Game Six reminded all of us about that).