I know what’s on your mind.
Given the recent announcement of the staggering number of jobs lost in the month of November, the near collapse of the auto industry, the fact that you probably can’t afford to buy anyone a Hanukkah present, I bet you’ve all been sitting around feeling scandalized and depressed about the Citi Field naming agreement.
For those of you too ignorant to be scandalized and depressed, let me explain why you should be.
Recently, as we all know, the government (in other words, we, the taxpayers) bailed Citibank out of a jam to the tune of $300 billion. And rather than spend all that money on exclusively bank-y stuff, they decided to go ahead and use $20 million a year of tax money to honor a previously established deal with the Mets for the naming rights to their new stadium in Flushing. So, basically, these schmucks are using OUR hard earned tax dollars—7/100 of one percent per year of it—as part of a marketing campaign in a sports venue. Now, that’s chutzpah. Right?
Or is it?
Call me crazy, but isn’t marketing a must for all companies and not just a luxury for the already successful ones? If not, try explaining the Procede hair advertisements to me or the Brett Fav-ruh campaign for that battery brand no one’s ever heard of. Unfortunately, advertising works. It must, or we wouldn’t be forced to endure so much of it every time we tried to watch TV, read a newspaper or even leave our houses. Sure, I don’t get how it works because I’m too smart to be so easily manipulated. (Though, while I’m not totally sure what Chantix is, I do feel strangely compelled to take some every time I’m walking through a meadow.) But advertising makes the world go round. It makes a company thrive. Why else would they continue to invest so much money into crazy expensive, though seemingly too stupid-to-be-convincing ad campaigns? Because, somehow, in some magical way that I might better understand if I had paid closer attention in my Intro to Psych class, it works.
And want to know when it works the best? During sporting events. How do we know this? Because major sporting events constitute some of the most expensive advertising slots in existence. Probably, in part, because so many people watch sports. Probably also because they think those of who do are feeble-minded idiots. (Thanks, face painters, for enforcing the bad rap.)
The point is, if we are going to look at these bailouts as an investment, shouldn’t we be encouraging the companies that we are bailing out to do whatever they have to in order to succeed? Citi spent approximately $2.9 billion in advertising last year. It will cost them about one percent of that per year to honor their deal with the Mets. Even if they halved their advertising budget—which they wouldn’t—that’s two percent. $20 million less per year for them to spend on creepy and annoying rotoscoped commercials that actually serve as a deterrent. (Yeah, I’m talking to you Schwaab.)
Don’t get me wrong, here. I’m no great bank apologist. I just think that of all the things we have to be annoyed at Citigroup about, we’re focusing on the wrong grievances. And, jeez, give the poor Mets a break. They finally have a closer that inspires confidence instead of heart palpitations. (With all due respect, of course, to Billy Wagner, who I respect almost as much as Tim McCarver.) Let’s lay off and let them celebrate.
By the way, when I was making my list, I didn’t mention personal safety as something that you were thinking about because I am assuming that you heard the news. Apparently, the NYPD has sent investigators to Mumbai for a briefing on how to handle potential terror attacks this holiday season. Good thinking, fellas. You know what else you should do? Send someone to Liberia to ask them how to tackle our unemployment problem.
How about this: If we want to decrease the terror threat during future holiday seasons, my proposal would be that we make the holiday season a couple months shorter. Seriously, has Christmas really not happened yet? It’s getting to the point where I just want to say, you suck, “Jingle Bell Rock.”
Oh, and p.s., you suck Coco Crisp. (Seemed like a good segue.)