Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Playing Ball in the Great Beyond

Well, here's good news from the National Funeral Directors Assocation's annual meeting. Baseball fans who've been dying to go to that Big Out in the Sky in real style will, starting with the 2007 season, find eternal housing in urns and caskets that sport their favorite team logo. Naturally, the Boston Red Sox are among the teams that will get up to the plate in the first inning. (Or is it the last inning?)

Starting next season, fans of the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers will be able to have their ashes put in an urn or head six feet under in a casket emblazoned with their team colors and insignia.

Kurt Soffe, a spokesman for the funeral association, said the MLB caskets are part of trend of trying to capture "the life and the passions of the person that has passed way." At this year's convention, for instance, there was a Harley Davidson-themed casket and one featuring Betty Boop."More and more families are wanting to have something that respects the personalities," Soffe said....

Each urn will feature recognition of the deceased's passionate support, stamped with message that says "Major League Baseball officially recognizes (person's name) as a lifelong fan of (team)."

Come on, do real fans - dead or alive - really are if MLB "officially recognizes" them as a lifelong fan?

In any case, the company that's coming out with this new line is an outfit called Eternal Image, which also has deals with the American Kennel Club, Precious Moments (cloying big-eyed child figurines etc.), and, ta-da, the Vatican. This certainly has to come under the heading of oddest set of partner relationships in the history of marketing-kind! It's obviously in a league of is own.

And just think of the potential cross-over deals: Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel transposed onto Fenway Park's Green Monster. Precious Moments Angels wearing Yankees caps (they would!). The Pope blessing a Corgi.

Certainly something that comforts the bereaved is worthy, but I think that this is a case of marketing sitting up nights manufacturing a need and a product to fill it. Bury Uncle Horace in his Big Papi shirt if you must, but the logo casket really strikes me as one big groundout. But you do have to give these Major League Baseball marketers some credit. When it comes to working their brand, they sure don't leave any (head)stones unturned.


CK said...

What a terrific post! Thanks for telling us about it over at Daily Fix.

Yes, I do need to give MLB some credit for leaving no (head)stone unturned (hee, hee!). I gotta say, and pardon the pun, but "die-hards" will probably love this idea. I call these "fan armies" and have posted on this phenom...but this post brings it to new highs--or 6 ft. lows, as the case may be.

Ann Handley said...

"When it comes to working their brand, they sure don't leave any (head)stones unturned."

LOL...great line, Maureen. The NFL is also quite adept at leveraging its brand, although I'm not sure they've branded caskets for the armchair-to-casket quarterbacks yet...