Thursday, March 18, 2004

It's not whether Reds win or lose, marketers decide

Cliff Peale

The advertising tagline for the 2004 Cincinnati Reds: "It's more than just a game."

While the team's marketing plan is cut back from last year - the 2003 opening of Great American Ball Park required a bulked-up effort - it will focus heavily on emotional ties between the Reds and their hometown.

With a team that won only 69 games last year, and without the novelty of a new ballpark, the Reds' marketing department needs stuff to sell. One will be the fan plaza, which should open on the western edge of the ballpark this spring. It will feature interactive speed-pitch and batting games, a stage and a picnic deck.

"People respond to winning," Reds marketing director Cal Levy said. "With the unfortunate way things happened last year, it left an interesting challenge for us."

Levy said the team will probably have more corporate sponsors by Opening Day than it did last year. New sponsors include Home Depot, Cintas Corp. and Cincinnati Bell Yellow Pages.

The next level

The Cincinnati Opera is looking to the long term with its current capital campaign.

In a "quiet phase," the board has raised more than $7 million so far from corporations and foundations, and it hopes to raise millions more for what it's calling the Festival Campaign. It plans to launch a public campaign to a broader range of smaller givers this summer.

The goal is to complete the new Opera headquarters in the north wing of Music Hall, add at least $10 million to a $15 million endowment, and stabilize the ability to present current shows such as the Margaret Garner opera coming next year.

"If we don't raise a nickel, we're in good shape because we have our endowment," said Harry Fath, president of the Opera. "What the campaign does is (it) allows us to get to the next level."

Trustees haven't yet put a formal goal on the campaign, but have talked about raising more than $15 million.

The union label

One after-effect of Procter & Gamble Co.'s outsourcing contracts in Greater Cincinnati: A labor union representing facilities workers at the Health Care Research Center in Mason.

The 13 workers now are represented by the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers after being certified by the National Labor Relations Board on March 8. The employee vote for unionizing was 7-6.

The group isn't employed by P&G anymore. Members now work for Jones Lang LaSalle after P&G signed an outsourcing deal with the real-estate giant last fall. William Cornett, an HVAC technician and one of the leaders of the movement, said it was all about job security.

"All the guys feel uncertain about their future," Cornett said.

Since the P&G outsourcing, workers' salaries have remained about the same, but the benefits aren't as good, he said.

"That's why we never needed a union," he added. "We weren't getting paid union scale, but the benefits were incredible."


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