[I feel like the guy behind Obama in the picture, clearly wondering, "I voted for him, but wear a Sox hat for him?]
In one of the saddest moments in White Sox history, the South Side organization is actually cashing in on the Obama inauguration in the cheapest and most demeaning way for tomorrow’s Obama viewing party at The Cell. As mlb.com reports, “The only prerequisite to attend is the wearing of a White Sox cap.”
Since 90% of Chicago baseball fans do not own such a cap, I can’t imagine where I’ll find Jerry Reinsdorf giving them away. MLB.com’s Scott Merkin reports that the historic moment of a White Sox making a difference is not lost on Team Reinsdorf. “Our approach to this has been, in a sense, that he chose us,” said White Sox vice president of communications Scott Reifert of the connection between the country’s first African-American president and his beloved White Sox.
“He was a fan before anything else,” Reifert said. “We’ve tried to make this more a tone of congratulations for him and the celebration of the success of a White Sox fan.”
The inauguration viewing party at U.S. Cellular Field is set to begin around 10:30 a.m. CT on Tuesday, with front-office staff and other special guests from the community in attendance. The only prerequisite to attend is the wearing of a White Sox cap.
**** UPDATE: MUST CREDIT JASON COHEN ****
Much more ridiculous than first reported: Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf tried using Obama’s grade school age daughters to worm his way into the Obama camp and family. Reinsdorf is currently scheming on how to cash in on Obama, but remains unsure if any of the money should go to charity. I’m sure that decision is really weighing heavily on him tonight. Thanks to Jason Cohen for the link to Huffington Post‘s Jon Greenberg:
“Our hat sales were up 25 percent in November and December,” Sox Vice President of Communications Scott Reifert said proudly.
It’s no coincidence. When the most famous guy in the world wears your hat every day in front of a phalanx of cameras, it tends to leave an impression. It’s a sports marketer’s dream.
President-elect Barack Obama, an avowed Sox fan who threw out a first pitch after his election to the Senate, wore his standard black Sox cap throughout his campaign and post-election transition. Even the most arch-conservative Sox fan had to like the publicity.
At one point, White Sox chairman Jerry Reinsdorf, who donated to Obama and John McCain, asked Reifert, a Hyde Park resident who knows Obama because his daughter is good friends with one of Obama’s daughters, to deliver the new President a new hat during the election. It didn’t take. The old hat stayed.
Since the fall, the White Sox have been brainstorming ideas on how to tie in the Sox brand with the Obama campaign, mostly borrowing ideas from the campaign’s innovative networking strategy – from cell phone alerts to personalized e-mails to marketing. Earlier this month, the Sox unveiled a dedicated page on their Web site honoring the “First Fan,” who will be formally invited to throw out the first pitch of the 2009 season once he takes office*.
“We’ve reached out with the concept of coming up with a hat that has the Obama logo from the campaign, maybe the Obama name on it,” Reifert said. “Maybe a percentage of sales would go to charity or something. We haven’t had any conversations about it, so it’s premature. They haven’t responded to it, but I’m sure they’re a little busy right now.”