MASN’s “marketing” efforts are unintentionally comical

May 01, 2009 | Luke Jones

Perhaps the only entertaining part of watching the Orioles lately is the opportunity to see MASN’s embarrassing marketing efforts.

Aside from the prudent decision to broadcast a whopping four spring training games on a cable network owned by Peter Angelos, the Orioles continue to produce compelling commercials for upcoming games.  The problem is the network’s definition of “upcoming” makes little sense.  In Friday night’s telecast, I viewed two commercials promoting games against the New York Yankees on May 19 and the Washington Nationals on May 22.

Did I miss something, or is today only May 1?

The Orioles have series against the Rays, Twins, Yankees, the Rays again, and the Royals before these advertised games take place.  Do the Orioles and MASN want you to forego watching these games, instead marking your calendar to watch games in late May?  I just don’t understand the strategy.  Commercials should be pushing next week’s series in Tampa Bay and then against the Yankees, not looking so far ahead.

If you’re going to televise all of the games, don’t you want people watching as many as possible?  Telling viewers about games coming up in three weeks almost sounds like the network doesn’t expect or even want you to watch all of the games.  It’s a befuddling strategy, but what do you expect from a network having virtually no original programming outside of game broadcasts after being in business for four years?

The network could be so much better, but the Orioles seem more than content in maintaining the status quo.

I will credit MASN for producing their series of “My Defining Moment” commercials.  These vignettes provide numerous laughs from unintentional humor.  My personal favorite is the gentleman feigning heart palpitations after talking about the team’s comeback victories last season.

I’m guessing those palpitations have transformed into heartburn watching the pitching staff this season.

In fact, my friend and I were approached at Orioles Fan Fest to audition for one of these “defining moment” MASN commercials.  After looking at each other for a few moments, she and I both passed on the opportunity, citing work commitments as an excuse.  The reality was we didn’t have a single defining moment from 2008 about which we felt passionate enough to subject ourselves to such embarrassment.

The premise behind the commercials isn’t a bad idea, but why not intertwine these moments from last season with the past, or even the future?  Instead of filming a fan simply talking about Adam Jones, link him together with great centerfielders of the past like Paul Blair or Al Bumbry.  This would not only provide younger fans with a brief history lesson in Orioles baseball, but it would also provide a nod to past players—an idea the team has largely ignored, evident in their nonexistent relationships with Brooks and Frank Robinson.

With Andy MacPhail stressing patience and encouraging fans to be excited about the future, why not produce some commercials or in-game segments promoting players such as Matt Wieters or the big three of Matusz, Tillman, and Arrieta?  Fans will be far more likely to show up at the ballpark or watch them on TV when they make their debuts if they can actually put the name with a face.  If these players are so important to the club’s future, start marketing them now.

The network’s marketing efforts are only focused on the present—or on the game taking place three weeks from now.  It’s bad business and demonstrates a lack of vision, but it’s what we’ve come to expect from a franchise in the midst of its 12th-straight losing season.

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