Last week my organization’s home office celebrated (or maybe lamented) the end of summer with a little field trip to a Dodgers game. I’m no baseball fan, but what the hell … Dodger dogs, peanuts, Gordon Biersch garlic fries … what’s not to like? The weather was beautiful, we had great seats on the first-base side of the shady loge level, and the game played absolutely no role in determining anything since L.A. imploded some time ago, which meant people could enjoy one another’s company and pretty much ignore what was happening on the field. Good game. (Oh yeah, and the Dodgers lost to the Phillies. Big surprise.)
One of the little incentives the Dodgers organization offers as part of a group ticket sale like this, in addition to 15 bucks in Dodger dollars (which will buy you a dog, a drink and, if you’re lucky, one more snack of your choice), is a T-shirt. Given my determined lack of interest in baseball, it wasn’t something I’d stand in line for even when free, but a coworker offered to pick up my shirt and give me hers as well since she knows I have two young girls who love getting stuff. And who would fight like rabid wolverines if I brought home just one shirt. (Thanks again, Paula.)
I figured a nice little T-shirt with the Dodgers logo would get me in my girls’ good graces for at least 10 minutes. And here is where our little story takes a dreary, crappy marketing turn.
You are aware, of course, that Dodgers sometimestar Manny Ramirez and his hair have left L.A. for Chicago. And I’m sure you can imagine the warehouses of Mannyware the Dodgers marketing office must be sitting on: promotional shirts, bobbleheads and other geegaws that now have less than no value. At this point no one in Southern California (I hope) wants to be seen as a walking billboard for this guy.
You see where I’m going with this, right?
So Paula returns to the stands, shirts in hand. I unfurl one of them and read what’s emblazoned across the front.
“I Sat in Mannywood”
When I gave one to my oldest, she looked at me and said, “Uh … thanks, Dad” like I’d just handed her a dead fish. Which I guess I had.
If I were a member of the Dodgers’ marketing organization, I think I might have asked myself if dumping our most outdated and worthless merchandise on our customers—shirts that even baseball know-nothings like me know are outdated and worthless—was a good idea. I may have been mildly disinterested in the Dodgers before, but I probably would have taken my girls to a game or two. Now I’m thinking we’ll drive down to Anaheim and check out the Angels if the mood ever strikes.
Good job, guys. That’s really swinging for the fences. Next time you’re printing up shirts, here’s a suggestion for one you Dodger marketeers can wear around the clubhouse: “I Sat in Mannyshit.”
If you’re going to give away free stuff, don’t insult your customers. Some of them may not like it.