Thursday, May 30, 2013
Brought to you by our sponsors
We live in an ad-filled universe these days.
Sports in general is a good example of that. Of course, the vast majority of stadiums these days are sponsored by certain products. PNC Park, Tropicana Field, and Great American Ballpark are a few I can name off the top of my head.
On top of that, fans consistently find themselves bludgeoned with ads throughout the course of a ballgame. I can't tell you how many X-finitity "Calls to the Pen" or Honda "Home Run Replays" I've seen during recent Cub games.
It's all I've known as a baseball fan. I've pretty much taken the gluttony of ads for granted since I started watching the game in the late '90s.
Still, a couple things started me thinking about how prevalent ads have been on cardboard over the years.
One was a recent post over at Mr. Night Owl's blog, one that pinned down all the product placements on one of 2013's best cards thus far.
The other was the inclusion of this Hooters-themed Lenny Dykstra issue from fellow blogger Bo a few weeks back. (A card that, as Bo noted, ends in the number "69". But that's another topic for another post.)
As I've found, product placement isn't anything new with this hobby.
Heck, Tony Campana's 2011 Topps Update rookie card is basically one big Budwiser ad.
The former Cubs speedster was one of my favorite players during his brief stay on the North Side. (He's in the minors with the Diamondbacks as we speak.)
And while I still think this is one of the more fascinating rookie cards in my collection, I could've done without the gigantic Budwiser ad as the backdrop.
It's a bit distracting.
Not surprisingly, cigarette ads are all but nonexistent in today's sports.
However, they've managed to sneak onto a few baseball cards over the years.
Fleer (perhaps) mistakenly issued a Randy Johnson rookie card with a Marlboro ad on it back in 1989. They quickly recalled it and issued an airbrushed version, one that omits the cigarette product placement.
The few Marlboro versions that hit the market can go for big bucks these days.
At first, I was consumed with the neat "autograph" shot that graces the front of Tony Gwynn's 1994 Collector's Choice issue.
Upon closer examination, however, I noticed yet another Marlboro ad in the top-left corner. It's not all that well-hidden.
Between the aforementioned "Hooters" Dykstra and this "Marlboro" Gwynn, I'm starting to believe Collector's Choice had some sort of hush-hush deal with the companies.
Big, sweeping stadium shots are a good place to check for ads.
This beautiful night shot of old Jack Murphy Stadium (later Qualcomm Stadium, another product placement) contains a few obvious ones on the scoreboard.
Budwiser, Toyota, Coca Cola, and Diet Coke are the distinguishable ones. There are a few that I can't quite make out spread amongst the rest of the field.
It really is an ad-filled world.
Minor league shots are an absolute goldmine for advertising.
I'd guess that most minor league franchises aren't exactly cash cows. Players don't make much, and attendance usually isn't all that significant.
As a result, most ballparks sell a great deal of ad space on their outfield walls. I count at least nine or ten different visible ones on Joe Crede's "Team Best" issue here.
Hey, they've gotta pay the bills just like everyone else.
One of the more head-scratching examples I found comes from this Phil Nevin Stadium Club issue.
In a rather narcissistic move, Topps featured an ad for, yes, themselves on their very own card! You can clearly see it on the right-hand side of this piece.
Sort of like a product placement "Inception", if you will.
Then again, I guess I shouldn't be too surprised.
For better or worse, the world of advertising is growing more and more each day.
Especially when it comes to our beloved sports.