September 28, 2004
It has become increasingly difficult for companies to get and keep the attention of consumers. Fads come and go, but one thing in our society has remained constant: We can't get enough of the New York Yankees vs. the Boston Red Sox. With the Red Sox clinching a playoff berth last night and celebrating with Budweiser beer, instead of champagne, Major League Baseball sponsors such as Anheuser-Busch (NYSE: BUD ) are already smiling from their good fortune.
Sports are big business for advertisers, but much of the marquee matchups are left up to chance. With the Red Sox and Yankees already moving ahead to the playoffs, advertisers such as Yum! Brands (NYSE: YUM ) , PepsiCo (NYSE: PEP ) , and McDonald's (NYSE: MCD ) are moving to secure prime playoff slots. Primary baseball broadcaster News Corp., whose Fox Sports station airs most of the hardball drama, is also salivating over the sky-high ratings a potential Yankees/Red Sox American League Championship Series would produce.
On the MLB.com website, corporate sponsorship is everywhere; Gillette (NYSE: G ) and Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT ) are sponsoring contests to win trips to the World Series and promoting their products. Other companies such as Sun Microsystems (Nasdaq: SUNW ) , which powers the MLB.com website, and Viagra (just in case a Yankees/Red Sox matchup doesn't pump up testosterone levels enough) are also getting into the baseball spirit.
An early playoff exit by either the Yankees or the Red Sox could pop a balloon that seems to grow with each pitch and hit. Just when you think the drama can't get any better, a fight breaks out or a comeback brings tears to your eyes. With reality television seemingly taking over every aspect of our daily T.V. lives, even Survivor's Tribal Council or Donald Trump's boardroom can't hold a candle to the drama Boston and New York act out on the diamond.
Baseball and its advertisers also have an additional ace in the hand when it comes to the Chicago Cubs. A Cubs/Red Sox World Series would feature two of baseball's most championship-deprived franchises and would create an incredible international buzz. That much television watching would certainly require a few extra tacos, a few more Big Macs, another six-pack of beer, and a couple more Pepsis. While millions of dollars are at stake for advertisers and broadcaster News Corp., Red Sox and Cubs fans are just hoping to lift a curse and witness a championship in their lifetime.
Stock up on munchies and glue yourself into a comfortable chair for these views:
Fool contributor Phil Wohl spent over 12 years on Wall Street and will be rooting for the Sox to lift the curse. He does not own shares of any of the companies mentioned.