And now a message from the Ghost of Christmas Present…

So, with so much of our discussion centering on the potential developments in the future, I thought it might be fun to take up another topic. That topic is: The Here and Now!

Or better stated… If I was the A’s VP of Marketing (neither I, nor the frog in my pocket work for the A’s… unfortunately), what would I do to make today better? Carpe Diem! How do I get people out to the stadium when the stadium is the one thing everyone agrees holds the team back?

So with apologies to Jim Leahey, here is my attempt at doing his job!

First, we have to think about what the mission of the marketing team is. What objectives are we attempting to accomplish with our plan?

  1. Create repeat visitors/Season Ticket Holders
  2. Bring back fans from the glory years
  3. Increase sales of team related apparel
  4. Increase viewership/ radio listeners

So how do we do this? Or, what would be a good effort in this regard while the stadium question hangs in the balance?

There are three main pillars to our short term strategic approach. Appeal to nostalgia, create an event mentality at the yard and spruce up the broadcasts. These are not independent of one another, they interrelate.  So here are the specific initiatives I would drive across the organization.

A slight detour: Many of these ideas have come from conversations with fellow fans, posts on AN, posts here and from other team’s marketing activities. Thanks to everyone who has shared one of these ideas or something similar.

We have 6 initiatives, here are the first 3

Initiative 1: Bill King Hall of Fame Drive. It was depressing to go to Cooperstown and see the Ford C. Frick Award Winners. Bill, oh Bill where are you? They have sullied your memory by excluding you… For so many people, the broadcasters of a team are the face, er voice, of the franchise. I have spent many a long summertime afternoon conversing with Bill King. Many more hours than any other member of the A’s Organization. I understand it may be a faux pas amongst MLB teams to campaign for the Ford C. Frick. But as Dante said… “The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, retain their neuitrality.” Hyperbole? Maybe, but still.

There should be “Vote Bill for Ford C. Frick” signs everywhere in the coliseum. A kiosk or 5 at the Coliseum to listen to his most outstanding calls. His picture on the outfield wall. Pull out all the stops… give us something to rally around while we wait for Crush Carter and Titanic Taylor to join Bubonic Brett Anderson in the big leagues .

Initiative 2: Immortal Athletics. My visit to Yankee Stadium this past summer got me to thinking. If they can play videos of the back up left fielder from 1952 on the Diamondvision before the game for 3 hours, shouldn’t the A’s at least do something similar for their former stars? And then, across the Bay they have plaques on the outside of the stadium… Forever Giants. They have one for Johnny Lee LeMaster for crying out loud?!?!?!?!? Heck, Walt Weiss was good at least!

And then… there was Rickey night. Nobody else will ever draw a crowd like that dude. I mean, I was a tall, scrawny white kid with slightly above average speed, no power and an inability to track fly balls. But, in High School,  I played Left Field,  took pitches until I got a strike and tried to steal bases because I wanted to be Rickey. Not too many players affect us like that, you know? But if Rickey draws gobs and gobs of people… our other heroes of the bygone days, could draw gobs. We don’t need to retire numbers, well except for Dave Stewart. But we could use a Bob Welch plaque out near the home plate entrance. Any player with 5 years in an A’s uniform or who played a significant role in a playoff season or won a major award in an A’s uniform should be eligible.  And a Carney, Walt, Dave Parker, Dave Henderson, Sal Bando, Dwayne Murphy, etc. Imagine 6 midweek nights next season, with a cool pennant giveaway and a highlight reel in the 5th inning feature the latest Immortal Athletic.  Walt Weiss… come on down!

Initiative 3: Yellow Jersey. I miss yellow. I used to like those yellow numbers the boys wore back in 1986. It’d be cool to pay homage to the past similar to what the Padres are planning for Thursday day games. I mean, instead of wearing Taco Bell themed uni’s, the A’s could find a way to pay homage to their entire Bay Area uniform history by going sleeveless, yellow and with the elephant on a ball logo on front every Sunday home game. Here is sort of a mockup of what I was thinking:

yellowalternate

Heck, I’d be okay if it was the same as 1986′s pull over with “Oaktown” written on it in today’s font. Either way the jersey serves multiple purposes. First, increase sales of  team apparel, make Sunday afternoons feel like an event unto themselves, appeal to our sense of nostalgia…

We have 3 more things to put out there for all to criticize, they are more stadium/broadcast related. Until then, Happy Holidays!

39 thoughts on “And now a message from the Ghost of Christmas Present…

  1. Please no sleeveless jerseys. Those are an abomination! Other than that, I think that yellow retro jerseys would be cool.

    • Sleeveless is from the late 60′s and early 70′s… when they had yellow pants to go with the yellow sleeveless jerseys! Ugh.

      I can’t agree with you. I love the sleeveless look.

      • Isn’t it a policy of MLB that the team’s nickname appear on the front of all home jerseys, and the city which they play on the front of their road jerseys?

      • The Tigers and Yankees just have their letter(s) logo on the front of their home jerseys. The Rangers’ home jersey says Texas. The Angeles’, Rays’, Phillies’, Brewers’ and Cardinals’ away jerseys say their nicknames. The Cubs’ alternate jersey just has a C and outline of a cub.

        So there are some exceptions.

      • I don’t know if there is an official policy, honestly. I do know that at various times teams have definitely not followed the rules if what you write is accurate. The A’s, for instance had a period where every jersey was essentially the same ugly old block letters that said “OAKLAND.” I know they wore them in 1986… They had a green, a yellow and white.

        I remember the White Sox, before they had the black and white uni’s of today, they wore red, white and blue. At one point, I think 1980, they had home and road uniforms that said “Chicago” and then after that I think around 1983 or 1984 they had nearly identical home and road uni’s that just said “SOX” in block letters.

        If you got an hour to kill, you can go to yahoo (or bing or google or whatever) and search “dressed to the nines baseball hall of fame” and you will find a cool online exhibit with all of the the uniforms for teams since 1900. Including the Federal League! It isn’t 100% accurate, like for instance this year the Royals had powder blue jerseys on Sunday home games and they aren’t included in the display, but it is a cool site to waste time on.

  2. Throw the last’s names on the back, and add the yellow to the brim of the hat and you got the perfect A’s jersey!!!

  3. Jeff,

    My hats off to you for appointing yourself (and your friend in your pocket) VP of Marketing for the day. This is certainly no easy task you’ve taken on. While I like your ideas, I think the solutions need to go deeper than what you noted.

    The problem with the A’s right now is they lack a positive identity. The identity they do have is that of an organization which trades away their stars for young prospects. While fans will, on ocassion, go to a game to watch the fireworks, or grab a giveaway jersey, what they really want to do is watch players they have grown to love playing the game they love. So I would suggest your first order of business would be to march down to Billy Beane’s office and let him know you cannot market/promote a team of unknowns. Top prospects are great, but few fans want to see keep seeing a team of prospects. If we wanted that, we would make the drive to Sacramento or Modesto.

    I should note that I don’t really have a problem with some of the trades which were made over the last couple of years. I understand Beane’s thinking in why they had to be made. But in making those trades, he tore appart the fabric of the team. The team lost a lot of its identity, and a lot of its fans.

    Now, once the revolving door has been shut, start marketing the team and its players big time. Get Suzuk’s, Bailey’s and Anderson’s faces out there. Start rebulding that connection. Do the same with Taylor and Carter when they get here. Get it to the point where that little leaguer wants to be Brett Anderson or Kurt Suzuki, and not the skinny kid or chubby panda from across the bay.

    There’s nothing wrong with plaques, wall murals, or throw back jerseys, but those things don’t consistently put fans in the seats. A competitive team with familiar faces does.

    There are other areas which I think the A’s could improve upon, but I’ll wait until your second post.

    • Jeffrey, I like your ideas but I agree with FC. It’s hard at times to be a fan of the A’s because they aren’t winning and aren’t going to the playoffs, but it’s even harder to root for them when the majority of players don’t stick around long enough. The A’s should do what the Giants do–their players do most of the ads, whether radio or tv. I want to see more A’s commercials like back in the day. They were like ESPN’s–funny, hip and make you want to go out to the park.

      FC-One thing. The team in Modesto, formerly the Modesto A’s, now the Modesto Nuts, are not affiliated with the A’s organization anymore, they’re a farm team for the Colorado Rockies.

      • Ooops sorry, my mistake.

        I know this is entirely off topic, but since we’re talking about minor league affiliates, can someone explain to me the agreement/association between a major league club and their minor league affiliates? How is it that a ML club signs their draftees, and I assume they pays their salaries, but the draftees play for a minor league team which is owned by a separate entity? Does the minor league team only pay for those players who have minor league contracts? What happens with a player who has a minor league contact and gets called up to the ML. Does he then get the ML minimum?

        Again, sorry this is totally off topic, but I didn’t know where else to post the question.

      • MLB clubs sign “player development” contracts with independent minor league franchises that belong to an MLB-affiliated league. All the players on the rosters are under contract with the big league team, and it’s up to the big league player development management where they play (A, AA, AAA, etc). Minor league teams take care of the non-player side of things, like ticket sales, gameday promotions, etc.

        Sometimes a minor league team will change their affiliation. All that happens is that they sign a development contract with another big league team. So A’s A-ball prospects used to play for Modesto, but then when the A’s signed a contract with Stockton during the offseason a coupel years back, A’s A-ball players switched over to playing for the Ports. It was weird, because Modesto’s team was nicknamed the A’s, but since they had to sign a contract with another big league franchise, they changed their name to the “Nuts”.

        A player who gets called up needs to be on the 40-man roster, and 40-man rostermen get a higher salary than non-roster minor leaguers. Once he’s on the big league team though (25-man roster), he gets the major league minimum salary, paid on a per-day basis.

    • Yeah… having some players to love for longer than 6 years would be nice. I am just trying to be realistic.

  4. The problem is the ownership and their terrible policies which are killing this franchise. It’s not the ballpark that holds fans back it’s Lew Wolff and Steve Scott before him always threatening to relocate the franchise out of Oakland. How do we get fans back. Easy.

    1) Commit to building that new ballpark in Oakland.

    2) Open up the third deck.

    3) Stop gracing Oakland with your SJ developmental squad Billy Beane. Having Oakland fans pay to watch the San Jose development squad doesn’t work. Stop destroying the team on the field.

    4) Pay attention to what your customers want.

    5) Stop denigrating your current venue. Do you want to see horrible archaic stadiums, go to Candlestick Park in SF, or Memorial Stadium in Berkeley. The Oakland Coliseum, while not state of the art, is still heads and shoulders above these facilities.

    Hows that for a start ?

    • Leave it to Nav to try and destroy the spirit of Jeffrey’s post. Maybe I’d threaten to leave my job for greener pastures to if my company was treating me like crap, presented me horrible working conditions, and wasn’t paying me after 15 years. By the way, great work as always Jeffrey!

    • nav—your sense of entitlement is what I find annoying–poor performance over a lengthy period of time should never be rewarded—admit that Oakland’s handling of the A’s situation since the return of the Raiders has been horrible—hold your leadership accountable and quit playing the victim card—

      Now to Jeffrey’s post–I like your suggestions and especially like the idea of the retro jersey—but if I was in charge of Marketing for the A’s I’d be hoping that Santa would give me that new ballpark on the horizon to dangle in front of prospective fans…nothing sells better than creating some excitment around what the future holds

      • Prospects for a new ballpark would be nice in generating excitement. However, they need to be careful with this. They tried using this bullet to help generate season ticket sales a couple of years ago when Fremont was still in the picture, but they ended up shooting a blank. Better to wait until the shovel is in the ground before actually cranking up the ticket promotion machine.

      • Prospects for a ballpark in Oakland would generate a tremendous amount of excitement. Prospects for a ballpark in San Jose would decimate attendance even further. That’s what happened when Wolff tried to sell that Fremont plan in his A’s telecasts. It backfired. Every time one of those commercials came on, it was like rubbing salt in the wound. I would just tum off the television. Yeah, if Wolff gets his wish for a San Jose ballpark I suggest he keep it top secret or instead of “4,000 fans” at the Coliseum he’ll be looking at 2,000 fans at the Coliseum.

      • Elmano,
        You have this habit of thinking you speak for everyone. When the Fremont stuff came on, I would get excited. In fact, there were three times that a friend called (each time a different friend) me right when it was on to ask if I had heard about it because they were excited.

        A new ballpark in Oakland or San Jose will get plenty of people excited.

      • Navigator is The Hand? I thought he was Whinetime Glick. I guess they’re both pretty out there.

    • “1) Commit to building that new ballpark in Oakland.”

      On what land? Where’s the site? The EIR? This is stuff that the city of Oakland, not the A’s, have to take care of first. The people of Oakland don’t really care about the A’s. Otherwise we’d have played our inagural season at Uptown Stadium a couple years ago.

      “2) Open up the third deck.”

      I’ve never sat up there, why sit up there when there is always room in the bleachers or 2nd deck? If you’re THAT picky about where you sit that you would only attend A’s games if they open the 3rd deck, then you’re not a true fan.

      “3) Stop gracing Oakland with your SJ developmental squad Billy Beane. Having Oakland fans pay to watch the San Jose development squad doesn’t work. Stop destroying the team on the field.”

      With what money? The A’s already need revenue sharing to put together a shoestring payroll. MLB owners would never let the A’s spend as much as you’d like, when all that money paying for A’s payroll comes from Yankee, Red Sox, Angels, Mariner fans.

      4) Pay attention to what your customers want.

      We want the A’s to make alot of money so they can compete with other money-making franchises by offering competitive contracts to both free agents and homegrown stars. What we don’t want is to continue playing in a decrepit stadium in a bad neighborhood in an apathetic city.

      “5) Stop denigrating your current venue. Do you want to see horrible archaic stadiums, go to Candlestick Park in SF, or Memorial Stadium in Berkeley. The Oakland Coliseum, while not state of the art, is still heads and shoulders above these facilities.”

      Neither Candlestick nor Memorial are home to MLB franchises. Apples and Oranges. Besides, denial is NOT going to work. Sportswriters from all over this country are unanimous in denigrating the Coliseum. Maybe you should admit it too, the Coliseum SUCKS.

  5. A green and gold ball gag for Lew Wolff will set the team back about $39.95. Easilty their best bang-for-the-buck marketing expenditure this off-season.

    • Is that what Wally Haas used for the 7 (out of 15) years that he had a team with attendance in the top half of the league? Did he take it out the other 8 years when he was in the bottom half? What gives?

      • I’m only saying that Wolff repeating his same tired shtick about how people just don’t appreciate how hard he tried to stay in Oakland the past six years, but darnit, he just struck out and has no choice but San Jose, blah, blah, blah, doesn’t help the team sell tickets to anyone in the current location AT ALL.

      • Who was the owner before Walter Haas, and what condition was the franchise in when Mr. Haas bought the team?

      • If you were a real A’s fan you wouldn’t have to ask. :P

      • I think those were meant as rhetorical questions.

        But they deserve an equally interesting rhetorical retort… What state were they in when Haas sold the team?

  6. Jeff,

    fun read as always. I can’t say I really think the “hall of champions” thing works for Oakland. That’s more of an elite establishment issue where fans come for cushy seats to be seen rather than pay attention to the game. I apologize if i sound a little jaded, I did 4 years of college at Rutgers and it’s all Yankee’s speak out there – pretty annoying.

    Oakland’s a working town and i think we’ve got to embrace that. Especially w/ the hard times I think the A’s represent a perfect getaway for families that want to have a nice outing without breaking the bank. Personally I love the Coliseum, the way the grass smells on a warm saturday afternoon in May w/ nothing but sunshine and white unis. It’s a no frills affair, we like baseball and it’s a relaxing day out at the ballpark w/ the cool Bay Breeze flowing through the stadium. Of course, people don’t want it to sound cheap, but they do like “Value” and I think that’s how you sell it for families.
    A’s tix are as cheap as the movie, cheaper than the Giants, and slightly more expensive than throwing rocks in a lake. I know they have the family saver package, but it’s never been featured well; it looks like a crappy coupon you clip from the paper.

    I think FC was closest w/ ESPN style commercials (maybe bringing back that awesome YouTube video about the A’s move to Fremont + Ghostride the Whip) and getting Kurt “Babyface” Suzuki out there.

    I’d also suggest an extensive meeting with Billy Beane about where he’s taking the club (and who’s potential trade bait). Is it focused on pitching, power, OBP, etc.? Infuse that theme into the billboard ads that pushes the brand association. It’s back to the scrappy guys taking on Big Money, we may not have the nicest ballpark, but we’ll figure out a way to kick your ass on the field.

    • So, the Costco Family packs, Bay Area News Group family four packs, these things already exist. The tickets are already cheaper. People still don’t come. Dollar hot dogs and 2 dollar tickets on the other hand. I would venture to guess that though extremely cheap tickets cause huge one time crowds, they are not exactly profitable for the team.

      I don’t know how ghost riding a Volvo, though hilarious as all get out, really appeals to people and says “we gotta go to an A’s game.” But I also don’t really have any ideas about tv spots.

      I have to say, the idea that the Coliseum is not part of the problem is really crazy. For you personally, sure it is likable. For the throngs and throngs of folks the team needs to attract, the Coliseum is the opposite of a selling point.

      • Croix de Coliseum badges perhaps?

      • Jeffrey, We have an owner who has told the fans in Oakland that they don’t matter. He’s basically told the Giants that they can have us. Wolff constantly denigrates the venue he’s supposedly trying to attract fans to. It’s like me saying, “I don’t like you, I live in a dilapidated house, and BTW, please come and visit me.” And then when you don’t show up, I cry and whine and accuse you of not liking me. I accuse you of not supporting me. Lew Wolff has done everything possible to alienate the fans. Everything! No amount of giveaways is going to correct the ” Sorry we’re leaving, we don’t care about you, and we play in a crappy ballpark” vibe.

      • Nav,

        Gotta chuckle, you paint Wolff as being the devil, yet all would be forgiven if he were to build a ballpark in Oakland. Too funny….

      • I believe with contrition anything is possible. All sins will be forgiven. As long as Mr. Wolff isn’t trying to take our team away from us, I have nothing against him. I’m sure he’s a very nice man.

      • A true sign that the ownership didn’t care about A’s fans is if they would just give up and sell the team, or play in the Coliseum forever. I’m sure you would love either of those, but do not be fooled. The fact that Wolff is actually getting the ball rolling on a new ballpark in SJ shows he wants better things for this team, and their fans.

        Don’t take it personally. When he says Oakland can’t support a team he doesn’t mean YOU. He doesn’t mean the 20,000 facebook group members. He loves you. You’re an A’s fan. You’ve supported the team. He means all the people who have never been to an A’s game. If Oakland = 300,000 people, then that would make it 280,000 the people of Oakland who don’t belong to your facebook group. THOSE are the people he doesn’t care about, because they don’t care about the A’s.

      • Yeah, the issue IS NOT attendance per se. If A’s game cost 1 cent, we might draw more people (not a given for A’s games), but the financial repercussions would be disastrous. The A’s would be a black hole on ownership and the league. The players’ multi-million dollar salaries are guaranteed. It does no good to have more people come to the games, when the cash flow to the club is lower overall.

        Therefore, I’m sure the A’s have weighed the cost vs. benefit of the various discount tickets. You don’t get rewarded for high attendance numbers. What matters is revenue from ticket sales. You could play in front of one person, but if that person paid for one ticket that cost the equivalent of 30,000 regular tickets, that would keep the franchise afloat and players paid.

  7. How can anyone be called a navigator if his little dinghy keeps going around in the same tight little circles, never really getting anywhere?

  8. Connie, I’ll worry about my dinghy and you worry about yours.

  9. Nav,

    I wanted to reply to your post above, but there was no reply buttonn, so I’ll do it here.

    Your self-serving attitude is what I find troubling. You will only like Wolff if he agrees to build a ballpark in your backyard. Who cares about what may be best for the ballclub, as long as the A’s stay in Oakland you’re good. The A’s may very well remain in Oakland, though if they don’t, I imagine you will be a very bitter person, depriving yourself of the opportunity to watch MLB in a state of the art ballpark. That’s sad…

  10. Announcing Team: Fire Vince Cont., Glenn Kuiper, and remove the mic from Ray Fosse when he tries to interview someone. Hire Roxy Berstien and Greg Pappa.

  11. I imagine the Marketing guy marching down to Billy’s office to make demands would result in another job opening. Unfortunately, it’s one of those jobs where you have to work with the hand you’ve been dealt. For now I’d play the “blue collar” Oakland angle. Then I’d try converting a weakness into a strength. Hype the young guys coming up. Sell them as the stars of the future before they go all corporate. One of the things I love about the A’s is that if you’re a young minor league player who knows he’s good enough to make the show, then the A’s are the team you want drafting you. It means you have a chance to make the show if you’re good enough. Think of all the third basement in the Yankee’s system. To a man they all know that they have absolutely no chance of making it to the Show with their current organization. So the A’s should play “David” to the MLB Goliath’s for all it’s worth. And get those kids out there every chance you get. Have players do clinics with them. Have them meet and greet. If I bring my son to a game and he tosses a ball around with Cliff Pennington and gets all bright eyed, as his father I’m damn well going to buy him a Pennington T shirt. The revolving door doesn’t matter as much if you can convince folks that there’s always a chance of a superstar walking through next.

  12. Jeffrey, how did you design that yellow A’s jersey layout? I would love to know how so I could make one on my own. I have plenty of ideas for future A’s jerseys and other MLB teams. Please let me know, thanks.

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