new york mets

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The NY Mets are my team.  When a young ‘un in NYC with no money and nothing to do, I’d sit in my studio apartment listening to the Mets and keep the box score on yellow lined paper purloined from work.  I attended the first ever Word Series Game at Shea stadium (Thanks, dad.) and got my first business lesson when Tom Seaver was traded – he looked awful in red, by the way.

Marketers these days are all “We don’t own the brand, consumers own the brand” and I couldn’t disagree more.  It is the mission of marketers to organize and direct the conversation around their products.  Sadly, New York Mets fans want to talk about one thing: team payroll.  Then about Bernie Madoff and Jose Reyes.  And Mets management is letting them. The conversation is dominated by money. When Sandy Alderson took the bait the other day in response to why the Mets had not resigned Jose Reyes huffing “We lost $70 million last year,” he was not managing the Mets message.

Every minute, every hour there is something baseball-like to talk about for the Mets. There are roster and farm team heroes to bring to life. The Mets fans who love the brand – not those people who stand on the Shake Shack line for 55 minutes – need organized reasons to continue to love the Mets and they aren’t getting them. There is no organizing principle for the Mets brand that lays the groundwork for the marketing, hence the conversation defaults to money. Here’s my suggestion for Fred, Saul and Jeff: Embargo any talk about money by marketing, management and players. And talk only about the game.  That would be a start. Peace.  

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I am a NY Mets fan.  Saw their first ever World Series home game. Gary Gentry and Nolan Ryan pitched. A great catch in the outfield.  When the Mets were bad, I’d read every NY daily newspaper after a win and only one after a loss. When a 20 something in NYC without any dough, I’d listen to the games on the radio and keep a score card in lined yellow legal pads I’d borrowed from work. 

The Mets are going to win the pennant this year, and people will look back and call me prescient.  But this year they are the poor, poor Mets.  Messrs. Wilpon and Saul Katz have developed a case of stinky which has attached to their suites and pressed shirt and it’s now passed on to the franchise.  The Mets have allowed the mainstream press to load up on the clubs financial troubles and it now defines them. Wait till 60 Minutes and Morley Safer gets after it.

New Yorkers are a very resilient group.  We love what’s ours. Don’t read on us. I don’t begin to know the intricacies of their business dealings with Madoff, but the Wilpons need to play some ball. They’ve got to stop being tofu in this media maelstrom.  Their strategy has to be “play to the kids and adults will follow.”  They should cancel the last few games of pre-season, come back to New York and barnstorm. Get the players to sign balls at malls, tweet their butts off, visit little league fields. Don’t just show up at Cohen’s Children’s hospital for a photo op. Take some grounders in Massapequa Park. Be heroic.  Remind us that they are just kids playing a kids game.  People are tired of money woes, it’s so last year.  Let’s play some baseball. (The $10 tickets, by the way, was a good start.) Peace.

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I’ve been in a number of meetings lately where I’ve referred to doubling the size of the market. Real marketer’s ears always perk up when you talk about big rather than incremental growth. Here’s an example of how one might double a market. 

 

One fine summer day a few years ago, Mike Piazza, the much publicized catcher for the New York Mets, emerged from the dugout and walked into the on-deck circle with blond hair. Theretofore, Mike had been a brown haired man. That one moment in time gave every man in America permission to color his hair. Mike did it, not to cover up gray, but to have some fun. A fun, televised, sunny summer day. It was not planned (that I could tell) yet it was a huge and potentially market-changing moment. 

 

If Mike Piazza can have fun changing it up, why shouldn’t the rest of us? Had a smart hair color marketer taken this serendipitous moment and run with it, the hair color market might have doubled. Most of the time marketers try to plan change — sometimes they have to sea change…and pounce. Peace!  

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A few summers ago the New York Mets’ Mike Piazza emerged from the dugout one day with brilliant blond hair.  With one bottle of dye, the normally dark haired Piazza created an opportunity to double the size of the hair color business. And what a business that is. I understand a coloring job can cost anywhere from $35-$140. Before tips (and I don’t mean gratuities.)
 
Had a smart hair products company, e.g., Clairol, L’Oreal, Garnier, recognized that changing men’s hair color was more about style than vanity, and had they targeted kids and twenty somethings – an age from which most trends emerge – I would probably sporting some serious blond hair right now rather than this grey along the equator “do.”
 
Because Mike Piazza had the huevos and style sense to do it (he really did look cool), it gave the rest of us permission to do it. (That’s product placement, celebrity endorsement, and image marketing all rolled into one.)
 
Changing a culture’s accepted behavior is not easy, but it can be. Changing markets is not easy, but it can be. Good account planners and good marketers keep their eyes and ears open.    

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