I guess I wasn’t so afar afield with the posting on Barry Bonds after all. Turns out, now that Bonds is only a handful of homers away from breaking Babe Ruth’s home run record, Major League Baseball and the marketing heads of sponsor companies are wringing their hands about how they should participate in the celebration. Tough branding moment here. Do you continue to attach your product to a taintend pitch man? You can just see the gears grinding. Steroids: Bad. Spotlight: Good!
MLB’s top marketer took a bunt, saying they wouldn’t pop the cork until Bonds passes Hank Aaron’s record–which conveniently puts the pressure off most likely until another season, if not permanently. "The big record is 755," said Tim Brosnan, executive vice president for business. "That’s when we go national. That’s when we bring in sponsors and create national campaigns in celebration." So, basically, MLB will keep it’s finger in the wind until public opinion moves decidedly in one direction or another.
Pepsi’s president, however, said they would celebrate Bonds’ breaking of Ruth’s record, but, ahem, "in a muted way." I guess Pepsi is the brand of nuance. Maybe they’re banking on some share-of-mind points by being on the fringe of controversy. And what exactly does "muted" marketing mean? I’d pay good money to see that Creative Brief.
Taking the path of easy expedience, Home Depot said they would celebrate only if Bonds is cleared of all steroid-use allegations. Only Bank of America took a firm stand, saying they would not participate in celebrating the achievement in any way. "A company like ours is always going to choose the untainted opportunity," Bank of America’s Cathy Bessant told Bloomberg News.
A company like ours… Interesting way to phrase it. So, what are the other companies like?