Your Ad Here: How an MLB Team Markets Itself to Brands
A lengthy PowerPoint file provides a behind-the-scenes look at how the New York Mets approach potential advertisers.
Before we get started: This article includes a lot of graphics that will be easier to read on a computer’s web browser — not on a phone, not as an email. If the phone is your only option, you’ll still be okay, but you’ll probably have to do the pinch-to-enlarge thing on a lot of the graphics. So if you have a laptop handy, you might want to consider using that instead. — Paul
When you watch a baseball game, whether in person or on TV, you’re exposed to a lot of advertising — ads on the outfield walls, in the dugout, on the scoreboard, and a lot more. Did you ever think about how the team sells those ads, and how it approaches potential advertisers?
Today we’re getting a peek behind that curtain thanks to Shannon Shark, who runs the excellent Mets Police blog. He was recently googling something like “mets 2023 corporate brand extension” (he doesn’t remember the exact search term) and stumbled across something very interesting in the results: a link to the PDF of a PowerPoint presentation called “Where Brands Meet Amazin’: 2023 Marketing Partnership Opportunities.” It’s the pitch deck that the Mets are using this season to approach potential advertisers for TV broadcasts and in-stadium signage. It’s not comprehensive — for example, it doesn’t cover ads on the back of the mound, on the grass in front of the dugouts, on radio, on uniform sleeves, or in conjunction with gameday giveaway items, all of which are apparently being handled separately — but it’s still a fascinating document. Frankly, I’m surprised it’s available at a publicly accessible link.
Shannon briefly mentioned and linked to the PDF in one of his recent blog posts. I was intrigued by it and asked if he planned to write about it in greater detail. He encouraged me to go ahead and write about it myself, so here we are.
But I thought I could use some help from someone from the ad industry. And I knew just who to ask: Ben Thoma, a longtime Uni Watch reader who’s also a longtime advertising professional. You may recall that I interviewed him back in 2021 regarding the language surrounding sports ads. (That article also includes Ben’s credentials, job history, and so on, which I won’t repeat here.)
Ben agreed to help me out, so we recently spent nearly two hours on Zoom going through the entire pitch deck, page by page. Here’s a transcript of our conversation, edited for length and clarity. Enjoy.
Paul: Okay, so there’s the cover page [shown at the top of this article], which seems straightforward enough, and then there are the first five slides, which serve as a sort of introduction to the team:
[Update: Shortly after this piece was published, several people pointed out that the “International Appeal” page has Colombia misspelled as “Columbia.” — Paul]
Paul: What really struck me about these slides is how virtually any team could use — and maybe has used — some of this same language: “A historic franchise,” “A franchise that ignites pride and loyalty across generations,” “A team with international appeal” — it all seems pretty boilerplate.
Ben: Welcome to the world of advertising.
Paul [laughing]: “A franchise that ignites pride and loyalty across generations” — I mean, it’s not wrong.
Ben: Exactly. If you were to fault them at something, it might be that they didn’t lean into that “Amazin’” thing from the cover page. Also, you have to remember that the brand manager who’s on the receiving end of this may not necessarily be a sports fan. So what seems boilerplate or even silly to you might not seem that way to them.
Paul: Okay, let’s move on to the next slide:
Paul: Again, this seems pretty boilerplate.
Ben: This is where I started to raise my eyebrows and think, like, how dynamic are you really going to get here? Like how, how customized are you really going to be? I was looking for anything that would surprise me after this, because it feels like every publisher, every property that has the ability to sell partnerships would want you to believe this, that each deal is custom-tailored. That’s where I start to get a little…
Paul: Skeptical? Uninspired?
Ben: Yeah. I’m a little less inspired by this verbiage.
Paul: Okay, let’s see if you like the next slide better:
Ben: Gotta have circles or shapes that surround another shape. That’s Pitch Deck 101, very good.
Paul: That’s a common thing?
Ben: Yeah, you’ve gotta have something that makes it look like you’ve really organized this.