The 10 Year $275 Million Branding Campaign
Over the past few weeks millions of baseball fans in the tri-state area and beyond have been following negotiations between two of the most recognizable brands in the US, the New York Yankees and regular-season superstar, Alex Rodriguez (a.k.a A-Rod).
During the World Series A-Rod announced he was opting out of his contract with the Yankees to persue the free-agent market, but once he saw that no one else could really afford him (or was big enough for him), he went back to the Yankees sans agent to work out a deal. There was much debate among the fans and press as to whether or not the Yankees should take him back or who needed whom more.
In my mind there was no debate, the Yankees were definitely going to take him back because they needed him just as much as he needed them, which is more than they need a World Series championship.
The New York Yankees (love 'em or hate 'em) and their timeless NY logo and pinstripes are one of the most identifiable pieces of Americana in the world.
Their iconic brand has been built by the many record-breaking allstars the team has fielded throughout its history. We've all heard of Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, etc. My guess is that for most people, these names are much more familiar than the number of World Series the team has won.
For the Yankees to continue to build their brand and legacy, they don't necessarily need many more World Series championships (although they will still need one or two to appease the fans), they need a star player who actually sticks around for a while, and New-York-born Rodriguez is the only player in baseball today worthy of sustaining the Yankees brand (sorry Jeter). He is the only current player who has a realistic shot at breaking the greatest of all records, Barry Bond's home-run record(*?).
The expected 10 year $275 million deal, with bonuses for breaking the home-run record, is definitely a risk for the Yankees, but it's a risk they have to take. It's the best way to ensure that that ubiquitous NY logo remains a timeless, timely,and profitable design.