The Padres Are Blowing It: Commercials, please!

I think the goal of any company is to create a brand that ultimately leads to consumer loyalty. If that goal is accomplished then the company profits and it continues to exist. But if the company in question takes its customers for granted it equates to suicide. Sound about right, business majors?

When it comes to branding, the Padres have a weird history. They’ve had a gazillion different uniforms, and played in two different parks neither of which are considered iconic. There are no championships to speak of and ownership groups feel like a revolving door. When it comes to identifiable players one name rolls off the tongue* and then it’s a free-for-all amongst fans for that second player**.

To the Padres credit, under Tom Garfinkel they have tried to establish the brand. The Padres are blue dammit! We’re gonna give away stuff at games for you to wear in the future and it’ll be blue dammit! Blue Dammit is the Padres brand. Consistency is good. It builds the brand. I guess.

But the Padres are totally blowing it right now

The casual fan of San Diego and the residents of San Diego think that the Padres are a little joke of a minor league organization. They hear that the Padres lose a lot. They hear that the Padres are cheap. They hear that the Padres never keep their star players. I mean, they traded Ryan Ludwick for cripes sake! I kid, I kid. But you get the point. People in San Diego hear things, then they believe things, and in time beliefs become facts. The Padres could do a lot more to dispel these perceptions [facts/truths/reality/?].

Fortunately, I have a solution! The Padres need to take a portion of the windfall they received from Fox and start advertising the f*ck out of this team. I’m talking about commercials, people. The funny ones that say, “Hey! We’re a bunch of good dudes and you need to get yourself to Petco Park to support us. Dammit!”

Do you remember the commercials? You know, the ones that were created back in the day, before the ushering in of the “It’s about the name on the front of the jersey, not the back” Era? You don’t remember? Alright, back to 2008!

The Padres had experienced winning seasons and some playoff action from 2004-2006 but they didn’t take it for granted that people would simply continue to show-up at Petco Park. They advertised the team and its players.

In 2007 Jake Peavy played ping-pong with the friar while the Brothers Giles looked on and talked about Jake’s competitive fire. It’s a great premise, and remember, you actually liked the Giles brothers then. Well, more than you do now.

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Jake eventually turns up the heat and crushes the Friar with a fastball off his chest, prompting Josh Bard to hang another K.

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That’s good stuff right there. What else we got?

Do you remember Chicken Schtick? Jake, Adrian, and the Chicken promoting a weekend series against the Brewers in May of 2007? It’s the most charismatic I ever saw Adrian Gonzalez. MOAR charismatic Adrian!

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And then the Chicken got naked. Funny stuff.

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This commercial promoting Retro night and a weekend series against the Mariners in 2008 is my absolute favorite, though. It features Trevor Hoffman, Brian Giles, and Greg Maddux, with a cameo from Chris Young.

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Brian Giles: “Hoffy, you’re lookin’ dyno-mite.”

Trevor Hoffman: “I’m diggin’ your threads as well, my brother.”

Trevor Hoffman: “Check-out Greg. He’s stylin’ for retro night.”

~ record scratches ~

Greg Maddux: “What’s retro night?”

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There’s a bunch more and they’re all pretty great [click here], check ’em out.

The point?

Don’t take your fanbase for granted and do more to get the casual fan to come out to the park. Show people the personality that exists on this team***. Make people invest themselves in these players so they feel a sense of obligation to come downtown and support them and the Padres.

You know who does this well? The Oakland Athletics. Their commercials each year are epic. Watch this Huston Street one from 2006 and the entire series from 2012.

The A’s are a team with a small fanbase so it’s imperative that they exhaust all possibilities in an attempt to get people into the park. Creatively selling the personalities of their players is one way to do that.

But the A’s attendance is still low even with those clever commercials, you say. Then I give you the World Series champions across the Bay. The Giants sellout every home game. It would be easy for ownership to take these fans for granted yet they don’t. They still advertise the team in clever, creative ways.

Make me laugh. Give me commercials. Give others in San Diego a reason to come to the park.

*Gwynn, duh.

**My second is Trevor Hoffman. And then Ken Caminiti typed itself.

*** If there is no personality, create one. Dammit!

I contribute to Padres Public on Thursday mornings and when I’m feeling particularly inspired. I can also be found on twitter at @AvengingJM where I offer bite size chunks of “Ha-Ha” 7 days a week.

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  • VM David

    Even the commercials you posted are awful compared to the Oakland and SF ones, but at least they were trying back then. Good humor and a little bit of production value would go a long way.

  • kevintheomanharris

    The other thing with the marketing being terrible lately is the lack of giveaway promotions. Every weekend series advertised in that youtube clip has a giveaway. This year the month of July has only one promotion….a retro night with fireworks…you don’t even get to take anything home

  • Dis

    The Rockies also always put out a solid core of commercials. My favorite was Tulo trying to go through airport security with his silver slugger and gold glove… and Helton behind him with however many of them, waiting. Worth a look.

  • YES!

  • Dis

    One last point: The team also needs to brand better within Petco. Other stadiums, for the most part, have logos/signage of the team that plays there. Petco has little to no permanent Padres signage. They could put things on the light towers along the infield, add a Swingin’ Friar to the scoreboard… lots of options for internal branding that have not ever been taken.

  • Tom Garfinkel has not remotely tried to build the brand. They’ve changed uniforms several times under his watch…we’ve had our current uniform and logo for a grand total of one season. The only way they could quickly gain credibility is to explicitly guarantee that the uniform/logo will not change for X years, and back that with a money-back guarantee on all products purchased with the current logo/uniform if they happen to change it before X years.

    • I think the uniforms were tweaked for 2011 and then changed entirely in 2012. I would not be surprised if the current uniforms stay the way they are for the foreseeable future. And Blue Dammit (brand)!

      • Then they have nothing to lose by explicitly money-back-guaranteeing that the uniform/logo will not change for X years. Instant credibility.

      • They have nothing to lose . . . if I’m right.

      • Melvin

        It’s easy, but doesn’t count for much to say this *after* you make a change. If you want people to believe they’ll stop changing them, you have to actually stop changing them.

  • SDPads1

    As cheesey as those commercials were, at least they were unique.

    I also like the 70’s retro one where they have an actual real life ogre on camera with Giles & Hoffy

  • The A’s had great commercials dating back to when I lived in the Bay Area (1998-2002). My favorite marketing slogan from that era (I believe this was after losing Jason Giambi to FA) was “They’re young, but they can play.” We really should be coming up with stuff like that.

  • Love this article… mostly because our company did these commercials from 2003 – 2010! The players love doing the funny spots, and its definitely a conversation starter.