Monday, June 14, 2010

Hey Gang. I was all set and ready to go with a great post for this week about the history of the Bleacher Creatures, but I'm afraid that I'll have to save it for next week. I really tried hard to hold off on using this forum to complain, but I can't hold my tongue any longer on this issue (yes, I made it a whole TWO posts, if you are keeping score at home). For those of you that follow me on Twitter and/or Facebook, you may have heard me grousing this past weekend about a commercial that has popped up recently during the game broadcast, and I'd like to take this opportunity to talk to you guys about it and share my thoughts with my readers.

Recently Avis (the car rental folks) have come out with a "Roll Call" commercial to highlight their partnership with the Yankees. In the spot, Avis workers travel around the office and Roll Call other employees, just as we have done in the Bleachers for the last dozen years or so. While on the surface, this seems like a great concept, there are several things "wrong" with the execution of the idea.

First and foremost, Roll Call is not done by actors. As we have discussed in this forum, there is a rather large and very dedicated group of individuals (including yours truly) who have helped develop the Roll Call into what it is today. None of these people were contacted to be in the spot and, in my opinion, that does not project an image of authenticity. This is not the first year that the Creatures have done the roll call. In fact, I have been entrusted by Bleacher veterans to conduct the Roll Call daily for the last TEN YEARS. Avis' slogan claims that they "Try Harder", but in this case a simple Google search would have yielded better results. Aren't any of these big wig Ad Execs Yankee fans? Don't they know about the *real* Creatures whose dedication to the Yanks has made Roll Call what it is? If not one person who worked on the ad campaign did know, then clearly I am not doing my job very well.

Secondly, if you've seen the spot, the Roll Call that the office workers do is very quiet and subtle. For anyone who has ever had the pleasure (or misfortune) of sitting in front of me while I kick off Roll Call, you'll know first hand that I am not quiet nor subtle. Again, in my opinion, this is not flattering to the Creatures or the least bit authentic. I know most TV commercials try to appeal to the lowest common denominator, but Yankee fans are MUCH smarter than that. They know the real deal when they see it, and they also know when the small guys are getting ripped off.

While I certainly don't expect to be notified each time the Roll Call is used/mentioned in an ad, I think it would have lent an air of credibility for Avis to use real Creatures in the spot. As it turns out, I am not the only person to think this way. Matt Lupotsky (YanksFan00 on Twitter) has started an on-line campaign to let the suits at Avis know that Yankee fans are upset (you can join in the crusade by tagging your posts on Twitter with #avis, let your voice be heard!). I really appreciate all of the support and comments that I've gotten over the weekend, and I want you all to know it really means a lot to me to have the respect of my fellow Yankee fans.

However, this is not the first time that The Bleacher Creatures/Roll Call has been used by an advertiser specifically for the Yankee market. In 2006, I snapped this picture of a SNY Network billboard on the Deegan Expressway, a stone's throw from the Stadium (I nearly caused several accidents trying to get this shot)

Last year, Pepsi used this poster in Bus Stops and Subway stations throughout Manhattan

In addition, there have been radio spots by Johnnie Walker as well as Citgo Gas Stations that have mentioned the Bleacher Creatures, all of which air during Yankee broadcasts. If you are a gamer, then you are well aware that you can hear the faint cries of Roll Call while playing "MLB The Show". There is even a drink available at the stadium called The Bleacher Creature (btw, the drink costs FOUR DOLLARS MORE than the price of a Bleacher ticket).

Nine years ago, I started my t-shirt business out of my parent's basement with the intention of making the Bleacher Creatures a legitimate and marketable brand extension of the Yankee franchise. From day one, that has always been my mission statement. Even back then I knew that our kinship in the Bleachers and our interaction with the players on the field was something that was incredibly special and unique. I built my business by catering to the hard-core, over obsessed Yankee fan, and I am thankful each and every day that I get to work a job that I truly love.

As I sit here and write, I'm having difficulty wrapping this up without coming off as sounding bitter or greedy. Both of those scenarios are simply not the case. Do I feel slighted a bit? Sure. Do I think I deserve a shot at elevating my (our) brand to the next level? Absolutely. But what can I do? Aside from the two guys that help me sell shirts during the games, my business has been a one-man-show. All I can ask for is the continued support of my fellow Yankee fans. I'd say at least 85% of my business comes from word of mouth. Yankee fans telling other Yankee fans about this crazy group of people in the Bleachers who like to make a hell of a lot of noise, and about the loud Bald Guy in the middle of the action.

And that, dear reader, is what I ask of you today. Please tell your friends about the Creatures. If you own any of my shirts, please wear them and be sure to tell anyone who compliments you that you got it from And please continue to read and comment on my Yes Network Blog, even though they wouldn't let me post this over there..

Once again I thank you, and appreciate your support.


  1. Stop your whining. You sound like a bitter baby. Big deal, you run the roll call and sell some T-Shirts. Avis did nothing wrong here by not having you or any of the other creatures in their commercial. Time to wake up to reality and focus on the important things in life like your family, health and friends. Nobody wants to hear you bitch and complain about this. You've already got more than your fair share of fortune from the Yankees and for what? Being a season ticket holder in the bleachers and calling out players names.

  2. You got shafted, Vinny. All of the Creatures got the shaft. Avis doesn't HAVE to use any of you in their spot, but it would have improved the ad and given them a TON more credibility. Keep doing what you're doing. Yankee fans appreciate you...even if some companies don't.

  3. Hey James O'Dell.....your an IDIOT. Im pretty sure Vinny cares about his family ,health and friends, just a guess. And as far as no one wanting to read his blog if hes venting, ummm you just read it you retard! and even took time to comment on it! YOU did exactly what you just said people don't want to hear him do! Vent! backwards logic maybe?? Obviously your a Yankee fan and a fan of the Bleacher Creatures cause you knew about Vinny's blog, but you try and run him down, YOUR the reason people hate the Yankees and Yankee fans,loser.

  4. I'm sure AVIS was under the obligation of having to use union actors.

  5. JAMES O'DELL vinny is mad and upset because if it wasnt for him and the bleacher creatures doin the roll call this commercial would have never came to life..he has a great argument here..thaat they stole something from us that we as creatures n yankee fans started

  6. Johnny Hewlett PackardJun 14, 2010, 8:41:00 PM

    LOL at "James O'Dell" --

    --Nobody wants to hear you bitch and complain about this.--

    It took effort for you to navigate to this blog, so if you didn't want to hear him bitch and complain, why did you even come to this blog?

    Seems like little Jimmy doesn't like ole Vin for some reason? Are you really Fireman Ed?? No wait, you must be Mr. Met.

  7. Good read, who wrote this?

  8. Sounds like you failed at Marketing 101, BV. If you're upset that your original vision for branding hasn't taken off after all these years, there's nobody to blame but yourself.

  9. Maybe you should have trademarked Bleacher Creature(s) or Roll Call if you didn't want other companies using it. And it's not like you're sequencing the human genome out there in right field..."BOX SEATS SUCK" is not exactly intellectual property.

  10. i love all of the "legal" advice from people who don't know what the hell they are talking about. owning a trademark means nothing. after 10 years of jealousy, i am used to the haters. i really have no time for them. for everyone else, i thank you for your continued support

  11. It's not about hate, Vinny. There are a lot of people who enjoy the Roll Call and we appreciate your role in its creation & execution, but this really does come off as you being selfish and bitter. The spot was clever and pays homage to the tradition that you helped create. Why is that not enough? Why do you have to be in front of a camera too? You either do the Roll Call for the love, or you do it for commercial attention. Which one is it? Judging by this post, it seems that it would be the latter. That’s a real shame, Vin.

  12. i run a business. i have a mortgage, a child and another on the way. i've put my time and effort into developing this brand as much (if not more) than anyone else. if you actually took the time to READ the post, i say nothing about wanting money or needing to be in front of the camera. if that's the way you think, then you've missed the point

    i really don't have the time or desire to argue with someone who posts comments under "anonymous". if you need further explanation you can feel free to contact me off-line

  13. The roll call is a fun part of yankee games, but none of you are actors, nor was this commercial filmed at Yankee Stadium, so there is absolutely no reason you or any other "bleacher creature" should have even been in this commercial.

    As for trademarking, it certainly DOES have it perks, does the name Michael Buffer ring any bells? After your Swisher Salute debacle, you'd think you'd learned your lesson. What's that they say? "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me?"

    But actually, the bottom line is, there's no reason for you to be involved in this local commercial, or for you to even whine about it.

    You've lost a GOOD customer in me.

  14. a passionate depiction of what it's like in 203 -- not only for Roll Call, also the truly unique and special atmosphere. And yes we do spread the word, we tell everyone we know how much we love being out there.

  15. once again, legal advice from non lawyers means little. here is a piece of advice, on the house. if the ad does not say the words Bleacher Creatures or say the words Roll Call, owning a trademark on those words does not help. you can't trademark people yelling. it doesn't work like that.

    i have my own blog, which gives me the right to whine about whatever the hell i want. you don't like it, don't read it

    sorry to lose such a "good" customer, but you can take a hike, mike

  16. Aaaaah so there you have it-the ad doesn't mention bleacher creatures or roll calls so therefore you have no basis on which to feel slighted.

    Since you don't like legal advice I guess you don't like hearing the number one rule of business: the customer is always right.