Brand don’t fail me now, or “Why Fenway will be full in April”

by

Clearly, Dee Snider has had enough of the Red Sox. But that will change.

Ok, ok, I’ll weigh in on the Red Sox, because we absolutely haven’t heard enough about their “epic collapse.”  But maybe instead of focusing on what an outrageous disappointment the 2011 team was and is, we could instead look at the incredible job ownership has done polishing the brand for these exact circumstances.  Yes, let’s do that.

Here is the knee-jerk: the players quit on each other and their fans.  Ownership is out of touch.  Fans are angry and, in the immortal words of Dee Snider, “We’re not going to take it anymore.”

But guess what?  We are.  Or, if me and you and the guy down the hall aren’t, many hundreds of thousands of others are.  Because ownership has done a masterful job of repointing a brand that was previously directed solely at baseball purists; they shaved off some of the hardcore exterior in order to draw in a higher percentage of the young, eager, “see and be seen” demographic (yes, the “pink hats”).

True Red Sox fans know what .406 means, who Jimmie Foxx was, and why the wave is asinine.  Those fans are incensed at the way they’ve been deprioritized by ownership and some may feel the apathy of the current roster reflects that.

None of it matters, because next April the true fan will forgive and hold out hope that the team will rebound and show some grit.  And the apathetic fan will be cheering regardless, either unaware or un-invested in the team’s apparent lack of respect for them and for us.

Therein lies the genius of the club’s foresight and brand execution.  For the past several years, there have been cries that ownership played to both segments – fans tried and true or untested and false, it made no difference.  How could a 40 year Fenway grandstand veteran possibly share a row with Sweet Caroline enthusiasts?  There would have to be a breaking point, right?

Wrong. The law of positive brand says that the deeper, stronger, and wider the brand appeal, the more likely it will hold up under significant stress.

Sox ownership took a century of hardcore history and diluted it with a theme park atmosphere. Idealistically despicable?  Perhaps.  But now they will enjoy that brilliant diversification of their base.  What they’ve built simply cannot be undone by a bad month of play and a worse month of off-field press: when Boston baseball makes its comeback in April, as will the brand.

[Editor’s note: To be clear, none of this means I embrace nonsense like the lightning show that accompanies Jonathan Papelbon’s 9th inning entrances.  I hate it.  It’s an insult. But I do love baseball, you bastards…]

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