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Things that make me go hmmmm #2

Ken Krause

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May 7, 2008
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Mundelein, IL
Just got the new Softball Sales catalog in the mail yesterday. As usual, I paged through it even though it's the same stuff I saw in the last 10 catalogs they sent me.

While I was in there, though, I was reminded about one of those things that makes me go hmmm. I always wonder why nearly every product that carries a player endorsement (such as a Jennie Finch or Jessica Mendoza bat) is a mid-level to low mid-level product?

If you were a top-level athlete, wouldn't you want you name to be on the top of the line product? I know I would for a couple of reasons. One is I'd probably want to use a product that has my name on it, since by implication I'm saying I would. It would also be fun (and intimidating) to go to bat with a stick carrying my name. Another is what you're associated with. I would hate to think that my name stood for "mid-level" performance when I've worked my whole life to become a top-level player. What's the thinking -- use the bat with Jennie Finch's name on it unless you really want to do well, in which case you should buy this other bat?

The one company I've seen do it right, in my opinion, is Wilson. The Cat Osterman signature series is on the A2000, which is their top of the line glove. Sure, at $199 it's out of the reach of most youth players. But on the other hand it gives them something to aspire to. I never owned an A2000 because by the time I could afford to buy one myself I'd quit playing. But if I had been serious, I would've wanted it -- especially if one of the Williams brothers (Ted or Billy) had had his name on it too.

It just seems to me that if you're a top-level athlete endorsing a product line, it should be a top-level product line. Let the mid-level stuff get endorsed by mid-level people.

I dunno. Maybe I just don't understand marketing. No, wait -- that's my day job. I guess the real lesson here is be your own hero. If you want to be like Jennie, or Jessica, or Crystal, or any of the others, forget whose name is on the products and work your butt off instead.

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