Team sandwiches its marketing message

INSIDE PITCH

June 01, 1995|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Sun Staff Writer

This message has been sent to you from the world's most admired, and misunderstood, baseball team -- the Orioles.

All of the players, especially free agents, want to play here because of the ownership's stance during the recent labor dispute. And the fans, they just love the atmosphere and that they weren't going to have replacement baseball shoved into their wallets.

Seems like an ideal setup. One big, happy family, almost 3 million tickets sold before the gates were reluctantly opened.

But here comes this message. It comes in the form of a one-quarter page newspaper advertisement, so you've probably read it.

In order, here are the catchy phrases:

Boog's Barbeque.

Cal Ripken.

Orioles Baseball.

At Camden Yards.

Excuse me, are the priorities a little out of order here?

Boog Powell is a delightful guy, and his beef and pork sandwiches or platters, accompanied by an autograph if you get there on time, may be the best bargain in the park right now. But is this the best that Camden Yards has to offer at the moment?

Granted, Orioles baseball hasn't exactly come across as previously advertised. And Ripken is still more than three months away from possibly breaking Lou Gehrig's consecutive-game record that has stood for more than a half-century.

Still, it seems as though those two attractions somehow should rank ahead of Boog's Barbeque as a lure to buy tickets. Yes, we know that, alphabetically, B (for Boog) comes ahead of C (for Cal) and O (for Orioles baseball).

We'll even overlook the fact that the next two lines of the message/ advertisement promote the 10-day homestand that begins tomorrow as the longest of the year (it isn't, the Orioles play at home 13 straight times during late July and early August). There will be more home games in June (17) than any other month of the year, exceeding September by one date.

The point here is that the Orioles, who were one of the few teams that didn't offer early-season inducements to disgruntled fans, have suddenly, and too late, realized they needed to market their product. In doing so, they obviously determined that pushing a team with a 13-18 record was no easy task.

The reality of the situation is that the Orioles took their fans for granted. At a time when perks were needed, the club overlooked the feelings of those who felt betrayed by the strike.

In the process, the Orioles have paid the price. Not as much as most other teams, but it's had enough of an impact to warrant a marketing program.

So, hey you all, come on out and have a sandwich at Boog's Barbeque -- he'll most likely be there. And, oh yeah, while you're at it, catch a little Orioles Baseball while you're there -- and watch Cal Ripken play another game. It might mean something in about three months.

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