Cleveland, Ohio – Last week, the Cleveland Indians briefed fans on the search phase to determine a new team name.
However, those who have watched the saga closely since the first suggestion for a change in July could be very realistic that the new name will not be announced until it is announced. I wonder why the process took almost a year. Time 2022.
Without a doubt, the change is coming. Baseball vice president Chris Antonetti asked MLB Network Radio a lot in December about whether an organization can be part of a positive change for social justice and equality in the community. He said he spent time.
“After hearing from leaders from different disciplines, I thought it made sense to push the new name forward so that we could better integrate our fan base and connect people for common interests. This is the best time for sport, ”said Antonetti.
It all makes sense, but it’s ridiculous to expect club owner Paul Dolan and team leaders to ring the finger and come up with a new name overnight. On the other hand, the brand-wide transformation plot remains a bit of a mystery to the average fan.
Charles Campisi, head of sports marketing and management at Baldwin Wallace University, said one of the reasons the process is slow is that this is a great company that covers all aspects of the existence of the franchise. Mentionned.
It’s also a delicate transition that the club only want to make once, which means doing it right, while also giving fans something new and fresh that can be shown to them as a source of unity and of pride.
“From a marketing perspective, it’s not just about changing the name and logo,” says Campisi. “It’s how to replace a brand with a 105-year history and get fans to buy it at the same time.”
Cleveland.com gives experts at Campisi and Case Western Reserve and Ohio State University some insight into the idea of renaming Indians and why the process is so difficult and how long it takes to get it right. I asked.
What is the cost of rebranding?
One of the biggest hurdles is the economics of rebranding after the team promised to change their name.
“It’s not just about changing the name of the jersey,” Campisi said. “Everything is inside and outside the stadium.
When Seattle changed the stadium name from Safeco Field to T-Mobile Park ahead of the 2019 season, the Mariners had three months between signing the deal and the opening date. I patrolled the park and found all the places labeled “Safeco Field”. Kampisi said Indians must do the same.
“If you’ve been to the park, there are a lot of places that you won’t see anymore, because you’ve seen them many times,” Kampisi said. “There will be a lot of ‘Indian’ characters all over the park. If you want to get it right, take some time this season.
From a practical standpoint, the entire 2021 season has been blessed by local and national Native American groups, allowing Indians to sell jerseys, hats, T-shirts and other items that have already been ordered. I was able to maintain the contract with.
“If they change it now, we have to imagine that the MLB or the Indians will have to eat all that money,” Campisi said.
Case Western Reserve University Weatherhead School of Management Jonathan Ernest says the economics associated with renaming this scope is relatively unprecedented.
“A lot of those costs relate to the fact that the brand was built,” Ernest said. “It’s more difficult because of the attractiveness of the local market, especially when considering a change, especially in baseball.
According to Ernest, there are few instances where a non-new team has been renamed or an existing team has moved to a new city.
“It’s hard to separate the impact of having a new fan base in a new stadium from the impact of just a name change,” said Ernest.
The closest example might come from a minor league baseball team that tends to change its name and brand more often, as was the case with Akron’s Double-A team, which went from ‘Eros at Rubberducks in 2013. There are.
“Investigations in minor league baseball and other overseas sports show that when a team changes its name, it’s important to have local appeal and connections, or associated local identities. It has been done, ”said Ernest.
Baseball, more than football, is about regional attractions rather than a national fan base.
“In Washington’s case, they’re trying to find a name that works well across the country, and they might not want to pick one in particular like ‘Potomac’ that others don’t understand,” Ernest said. Has been.
Is that an argument to tie the name to a hole in the rock or something regional? What a lot of people don’t want to see is another guitar themed logo.
“It makes a lot of sense, especially in baseball, to have a somewhat identifiable name in the area, but given the size of the local market,” said Ernest. Mentionned. that’s all”
According to Ernest, minor league teams that switch to regionally-themed games have fewer losses, higher sales, and more spectators than switching to some sort of bland country name. Studies have shown that it does.
“It’s a pretty solid discussion to understand the cost of changes and make them work properly,” said Ernest.
“You also face the same issues, such as trademarks and who is crouching on which website. To make sure that you have full rights to the appropriate means of renaming yourself. In addition, it takes time to complete all these transactions.
What about the idea of just renaming to sell t-shirts and caps and make money?
Jesse Walker, assistant professor of marketing at Fisher College of Business at Ohio State University, said 105 years later, the Cleveland Indians brand is so valuable that changing direction isn’t an easy choice. say.
“There is no profitable natural reason to make this change,” Walker said. “In their minds, the only reason to do it is to do the right thing.”
Indians may see this decision as worth the cost in the long run, but it will be costly in the short run. Additionally, product sales may not be a deciding factor.
“There’s no way they can do that to sell more merchandise,” Walker said. “The segment that opposes the evolution of the fan base is, in most cases, its social implications. I will buy the goods. “
And don’t expect huge cash flow from the Indian business side after the new name is born, Kampisi said. Most of the profits from the sale of Major League Baseball are shared by the 30 teams. Can be placed in a large pot.
In MLB, 48% of local revenue is subject to revenue sharing and is distributed evenly among the 30 teams, with each team receiving 3.3% of the total revenue. In 2018, each team received $ 118 million from this shared prize pool.
Why not give it a working name like the Cleveland Baseball Club, similar to what the Washington football team did?
Indians have gone to great lengths to provide free time since the initial announcement of the continued name change. That way you can pick a new brand and go from there, rather than a working title.
Two brand changes add more headaches to the process, Campisi said.
“You don’t need to market that kind of weird, vague team name, like the Cleveland Baseball Team or the Cleveland Baseball Club,” Campisi said.