In New Role, Ken Griffey Jr. Can Help Solve MLB Marketing Problems

It’s a good start.

Major League Baseball announced on Friday that Ken Griffey Jr. has been appointed chief advisor to Commissioner Rob Manfred. Griffey, one of the friendliest and brightest superstars the game has ever seen, will focus on “baseball operations and the development of youth baseball, particularly as it relates to enhancing diversity. at the amateur level of the game, “said the MLB statement.

Considering the way Griffey was marketed in his day – arguably the best-marketed baseball athlete in the history of the sport – this is the kind of move that gives us hope that MLB and its players will be able to again attracting casual fans as well as newer and younger ones. . Even though they haven’t known Griffey since his prime.

“It will be an honor to represent the best sport in the world and to promote our sport among the young people of today,” Griffey said in the statement.

Given the parameters of Griffey’s role as the MLB noted, he wouldn’t be directly involved in how the game is marketed. And neither does Theo Epstein, who is now MLB advice on the issues on the ground.

However, given the experience of these two men, it seems only natural that their contribution permeates all of the ways to make baseball more attractive, including marketing.

For too long, MLB has fallen on its nose when it comes to promoting its game and its stars. While the NBA and NFL have found ways to put their stars on big and small screens – and not just when these sports are broadcast – Manfred sadly blamed players for not being more marketable or market themselves.

Griffey has never had such a problem, and because of it, he has a real chance to make changes in the development and diversity of youth baseball. And, of course, the commercialization of sport, which is somehow integrated with all of these other responsibilities.

At the height of Griffey’s popularity, he was one of America’s most recognizable athletes. So much so that in 1996, Nike

NKE
ran an advertising campaign that falsified a presidential race, dubbing it “Griffey in 96”. There were posters, buttons, bumper stickers and, obviously, advertising.

These Nike spots ended up being some of the most memorable baseball commercials Nike has ever done, and they played on Griffey’s transcendent sympathy and charisma. Business intern even named the campaign one of Nike’s most influential in the brand’s history.

And all his other campaigns weren’t too bad either.

Griffey’s and Epstein’s roles don’t allow them to directly tackle baseball’s biggest problem – that its players aren’t always recognizable, even to casual baseball fans. Think about this: Would any of the teens or 20-year-olds you know (who aren’t die-hard MLB fans) recognize Mike Trout, Fernando Tatis Jr. or Mookie Betts if they crossed paths with them in the shop ?

But the fact that MLB now sees reasons to hire people like Griffey and Epstein in these roles, hopefully, is a sign that the league is now recognizing the shortcomings that are hampering the acquisition of new eyeballs – and this is not because the pitchers don’t throw enough shots in 2 minutes.

Officially bringing Griffey in is a wise move by Manfred and the MLB. It would be wiser to give him a say on more than his current job description and role.


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