Good Product. Tarnished Brand?

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Alex Rodriquez had the natural talent and burning desire to become baseball’s home run king. A-Rod wanted a stunning 800 homers! But he should have learnt early in his big league career that you don’t always get what you want.

In 1994, at age 18 he was drafted by the Seattle Mariners who offered him a $1.5M signing bonus, in essence for skipping enrolment at University of Miami. But in Seattle he was up against Junior Griffey and was dismayed at not being MVP. Big money lured A-Rod to Texas Rangers (hello former managing partner Pres. George Bush), and even bigger money to the Steinbrenner’s Yankees. He had everything going his way, including a record-breaking $275M 10-year contract. But there were always doubts about A-Rod’s authenticity. Great product: but somehow a questionable brand.

After much speculation, in 2009 A-Rod admitted that he had been taking banned performance enhancing substances from 2001, but claimed he never did as a Yankee. That he never tested positive was… ah… proof positive? Despite his great accomplishments on the field he never resonated with either players or fans who just didn’t see him as the genuine. Neither did his superstar status lead to the major endorsements that he craved. Of course PepsiCo, Kraft Foods, Nike and Colgate quickly dropped him as speculation mounted.

Last year he was suspended for 211 games and following arbitration it was announced yesterday that he will miss the entire 2014 season. As a product his baseball skills, although diminished are still very good. Aaah! That’s the product. Still good. But the A-Rod brand is tarnished.

So here’s a question for the strategists; could you successfully reposition the 39-year-old who has 648 home runs, nearly 2000 RBI’s, over 300 stolen bases and 1900 runs scored, as a genuine baseball Hall of Fame candidate during his year off from active duty? Or is the A-Rod brand tarnished forever?

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