Blogs > 37th Frame

Photography, notes, commentary and much more from former Reporter Online Editor Chris Stanley.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Phighting a name change

In a move that has not inspired much love from fans, one of my favorite baseball teams that plays in one of my favorite parks, the Reading Phillies, has 're-branded' themselves as...the Fightin Phils.

And to judge from the comments on the F-Phils Facebook page, the ratio of dislike to like is about 99-1, and I think the one might be the hot dog guy who runs around in an ostrich suit (talk about job security!).

With only a few exceptions, I can only think of a few instances where re-branding really helped an entity the way the owners hoped it would. The most successful one I can think of is Verizon - remember Bell Atlantic? It was time to move away from the old phone company image and they did so rather nicely.

But baseball is something else. Despite the huge salaries in the major leagues, the steroid scandals and the inflated regular season and playoff schedules, baseball still defies the pace of modern life. It is slow and intricate - one of the only sports where you can sit in the stands and read a novel without missing too much of the action.

The game is nostalgia, and both the major and minor leagues have capitalized on that in everything from uniforms to the design of the stadiums. No, the ticket, food and beer prices aren't very nostalgic, but at least the minor league parks are still affordable.

So I can imagine what the marketing company from San Diego was thinking when they presented this change - take a beloved nickname from the parent organization and apply it to the minor-league team. And for a about that craz-ee hot dog guy who runs around in an ostrich suit? Everybody seems to like that. Run it by a couple of focus groups ("Yeah! Love the ostrich! Love the Fightin' Phils!") and you have a winner.

But...from the comments...

Reading Phillies photo
  • An ostrich is a nasty bird that buries its head in the sand when things get rough.
  • Ostriches are not native to Reading or Pennsylvania.
  • The name sounds like a college football team.
  • The name is a well-known nickname for another team.
  • The team logo is an 'F' formed into arms with fists. Reading has enough violence already, thanks.
  • When things go bad for the team, the name lends itself to abuse (have to use your imagination for that one).  
 There's more, you can look for yourself.

I realize that this isn't exactly a burning issue of the day - despite the change, the games will be the same, the stadium is still great, a warm summer evening under the lights will always be a good way to spend some time. But I am curious as to how this will play out - will the naysayers win and turn the shiny new brand into New Coke or will fans learn to love this new identity? 

See you at the ball park.


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