MLB season started this week, and for the first time we are able to watch the games here in the Netherlands, on NASN (which is great, except for their extremely annoying self-promoting commercials). But what strikes me and what I want to write about here is all the commercial product placement in these games.
Advertising and ‘product placement’ has become an important part of the U.S. sports scene as teams and networks are searching for new sources of revenue. I find it can be quite hilarious; you’ve got things like the Chevrolet-7th-Inning-Stretch, and the Home-Depot-Dugout, and the Dunkin’-Donuts-Strike-Zone.
It’s pretty sad to hear the commentators mention these sponsored products/terms, as if it’s the most normal thing in the world. I imagine one of them will once say, reading from a screen: “Chicago Cubs are leading three to two against the Cincinnati Reds as we go into the 8th inning, but first let’s have a look at … WHAT THE–? Is this a JOKE?! It says here … ‘Pepto-Bismol-Slide-Of-The-Day‘ … come ooon! .. is that serious?!”
And then, of course, there are the ballparks, with unimaginative names like Minute Maid Park in Houston and Tropicana Field in Tampa Bay (yum!), or U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago and Petco Park in San Diego (cute!).
Here in Europe, product placement is not that bad (yet), although the shirts of soccer players are completely filled with logos of sponsors. Now that I think of it, it surprises me that MLB players in the U.S. don’t have any ads printed on them yet. Those baseball caps have many square inches of advertising space that is just crying out to be taken advantage of. 😉