Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The New Look Orioles

Team pulls off a successful off-season marketing effort

by Matthew Taylor

So the O's finally put Baltimore back on their road jerseys and revealed some other uniform alterations in a Wednesday afternoon press conference that was quite similar to the Ravens' uniform unveiling at the same location more than a decade ago. Perhaps the Ravens' example served the Orioles well as, for the most part, the team hit a marketing home run with this effort.

The only major downside to the Birds' marketing of their new unis was that they let word of the hat change leak out weeks in advance only to make a very minor - and unnecessary - adjustment that simply seems like an effort to pull in more merchandising bucks. Otherwise, the team handled this thing well. At noon, the official O's web site looked no different than it did all season; by 12:15, as the uniform ceremony was wrapping up, the site featured the new logo along with a link to purchase an updated jersey. Clearly, a well-coordinated effort.

Overall, the O's turned the news of their uniform change into a true off-season event, one that generated some buzz for the team and gave fans a reason to be excited soon after another losing season ended. The ceremony itself was quick and to the point, featured an appropriate tone of cautious optimism (okay, mostly cautious - Melvin Mora did announce his plans to drive in 130 runs in 2009), and gave a nod to the team's more celebrated past. And that's not even to mention that the biggest change - the addition of the Baltimore script - addressed a long-running fan demand.

If those aren't reasons enough to convince you that the team did things the right way, just consider some of the alternatives they could've gone with:

-Jim Palmer makes an appearance at the uniform unveiling and provides a true "flash"back to the team's past ... in his Jockey briefs.

-Team announces its intention to have all position players wear gold gloves in '09 to protest the snubbing of Nick Markakis.

-Eye patches instead of uniform patches.

-Jim Hunter stays at home, leaving the emceeing responsibilities in the hands of Rick Dempsey and Melvin Mora.

-Team sells advertising space on the new unis, starting with Southwest's "Wanna Get Away?" promotion.

-Terry Mathews appears and proudly announces, "Gray is slimming."

2 comments:

JB said...

This post has a really detailed--maybe too detailed--analysis of the new unis.

I wonder if the O's are able to emphasize Baltimore now because of the existence of the Nationals. Maybe now the marketing people aren't emphasizing being inclusive and appealing to the DC area.

Matthew Taylor said...

Thanks for the link, JB. I definitely think it's easier to emphasize the Baltimore on the road jerseys now that the Nationals are in place.

The O's & Nats have an interesting dynamic going on. There's no real rivalry there, as much as some folks might want to push one, but even if you're tempted to hate one or the other team, the two franchises have something of a shared fate because of the MASN arrangement. With that said, whichever teams gets competitive first will win many mid-Atlantic region hearts along the way.

Overall, this struggling O's franchise seems to be following the lead of the struggling newspaper industry and turning to a more local focus. That's fine by this fan.