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.