Let’s be honest. In a recession, we get desperate. This desperation has permeated every industry, every company and every consumer. Everything is for sale. And it’s cheap, too.
At Citizens Bank Park, dollar dogs (courtesy of Hatfield) have never tasted so good. Too steep? Check out the dogs at the Triple-A Columbus Clippers’ games during Dime-a-Dog Night. Yup, 10 cents per dog.
In the journalism industry, things have gotten so bad that Newser’s Michael Wolff says 80 percent of print newspapers will be gone within the next 18 months. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., is considering a newspaper government bailout; it’s no coincidence that the Boston Globe is struggling financially and expects to lose $80 million in 2009—if it makes it through the year. Parent company The New York Times just announced a loss of $74.5 million in Q1. Not a pretty picture.
It’s no surprise that professional sports teams are feeling the challenges of a difficult economic environment. Likewise for the TV stations that cover them. And they’re both getting desperate.
Take, for example, a few recent product placements in the NBA. (I’ll recap because there are only a few NBA fans left.) At the NBA All-Star Weekend, three young stars played a game of Horse spelling out G-E-I-C-O; to promote the new “X-Men” movie, Charles Barkley flashed a “Wolverine claw;” and Reggie Miller flashed his own armor, a shiny, new BlackBerry.
Advertising to sports fans works. It’s more efficient and effective. It’s that simple. But, do these placements cost brands in other ways? And do they cost the TV stations playing these “games.”
TNT’s NBA coverage has become the laughing stock of journalism. But, beyond that, where will product placements end? Will local governments take sponsors? How about churches? Will journalists become employees not of a newspaper or TV station, but of an advertiser?