Ballpark food

I thought it was time for a little silliness regarding the National Pastime. From the looks of things, we could all use a laugh right now. The piece of silliness has to do with marketing, and it came from the pair responsible for the “Tank McNamara” comic strip, Jeff Millar and Bill Hinds.

In a free market economy like ours, marketing is essential. The basic goal of marketing is get people to want to purchase something they may not otherwise have wanted to purchase. The right marketing could make a product successful, while the wrong marketing could lead to its failure.

As an example, the makers of Meister Brau Beer were offering a “diet beer” aimed at women. It was a colossal flop. Then, the company was bought out by Miller. They took the same beer and hired a bunch of retired athletes to constantly argue about whether the best thing about it was it “tastes great” or it was “less filling.” Thus was born the marketing success of Miller Lite Beer.

This particular “Tank McNamara” story ran some 40 years ago, but it’s still funny. It began with a baseball executive heading back to his hotel room and very excited over the trade he just made. It was a very complicated deal, he said, and he wasn’t sure what all it involved, but it sure was fun and exciting.

All the while, one of his aides is trying to get his attention.

When the executive reaches his hotel room, he’s surprised to see all his bags are packed.

“Why are my bags packed?” he asked the aide.

“I was trying to tell you, sir,” the aide said. “You just traded yourself to Procter & Gamble for two marketing executives and an accountant to be named later.”

We then had several cartoons about the former Procter & Gamble men trying to market a baseball team like P & G would market their household products. The first change they made was to re-name the team New ALERT! ® Industrial Strength Baseball Team.

They also had new slogans, like “New ALERT! ® wins those tough one-run games!”

When showing off the new uniforms they had designed, one of the former P & G execs asked, “If you saw this on a shelf next to a dull, dull Dodgers’ uniform, which one would you pick?”

One of the cartoons was based on P & G’s advertising campaigns where they took their hidden cameras to a town and got the reactions of people to their products. This cartoon had them asking a homemaker to throw a baseball at the clean-up hitter for the other leading brand baseball team and throw a baseball at the clean-up hitter from New ALERT! ® Industrial Strength Baseball Team. She got knocked cold by a line drive off the bat from the ALERT! ® clean-up hitter.

The smarmy announcer then asked her, “Now, which one would you say hit the ball harder?”

The story ended with New ALERT! ® getting off to a 2-20 start on the season. The former P & G guys traded themselves to Lockheed for one of their execs. He was going to wait until the team was 2-50, and then ask for a government bailout.

I can’t help but wonder what would happen if one of the TV preachers bought a baseball team. We’d probably see a lot of emotional pleas for people to send their money so they can keep the team operating. Every TV broadcast would include a phone number at the bottom of the screen where people could call with their donations.

Well, I hope I made you at least smile with this. I know a lot of people miss baseball, myself included. We can get through this. If we can smile, that will make things a lot easier.


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