Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Stars & Stripes....put a Lid on it!

Sometimes, every once in a while someone comes up with a great idea, so great, they know they shouldn't keep it to or for themselves. They share it so everyone can enjoy it. Oddly enough, the specific idea I am referring to was spawned by Fred Wilpon. Yes, THAT Fred Wilpon who owns the New York Mets. 

Four seasons ago, Wilpon decided he wanted something to show support and generate donations for the Welcome Back Veterans organization which was "created to inspire Americans to give back to our returning heroes and their families." Wilpon got New Era, the official cap of MLB, involved and thus the Stars and Stripes collection was born. Each of the past 4 seasons, New Era has released a new Stars and Stripes hat. Basically, the hats are a variation of the teams regular hat but have had a red white or blue base with the teams logo in red, white and blue. (Toronto is the only exception. The Blue Jays is only red and white to pay homage to Canadian Armed Forces.)

Some of the Wriz's family and friends have served or currently serve in the military. What better way to show thanks than showing support on Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and September 11th? How about a portion of the proceeds go to Welcome Back Veterans. Very nice! Wait, WHAT? A portion? Really? New Era can't donate all the proceeds? Ahh, that’s ok its still for a good cause.

 Honestly, I can let it go. The Phillies official on field cap retails for $35.99. The Stars and Stripes retails for $36.99. The cynic in me says the donation from each hat is $1.00. Neither MLB nor New Era loses a dime. In essence, the consumer is doing the donating but New Era gets the tax benefits. I could be wrong. I am assuming. We could just ask them, right?

Well, Paul Lukas of Uniwatch did just that. the following is his account how his question during the Q&A session at the initial unvieling went:

All the materials related to this promotion say that “a portion of the proceeds” from the cap sales will go to the charity program. Can you tell us what percentage that portion is? The reason I ask is that some fans — including many who have already expressed their opinions to me as news of this initiative leaked out over the weekend — may view this program as just another merchandising program to move product and generate revenue. So what portion of the cap proceeds will go to the charity? And if it’s not 100%, why not?
And man, you could practically hear them crossing my name off their Christmas card lists. MLB PR czar Rich Levin glared at me like I’d just hocked a loogie in his cappuccino or something. “The answer is that that hasn’t been determined yet,” he growled. “But this is a charity initiative — it isn’t about generating revenue.”
“I’m not suggesting otherwise,” I responded. “But there’s a certain level of cynicism out there among some fans, so I was giving you a chance to clarify…”
“We reject that,” he snapped. “We reject the cynicism.”
And that, my friends, was the end of that. No more questions, cue the photographers for glad-handing pics. Afterward, two gentlemen who were involved with the vets’ program (i.e., not MLB employees) approached me and said, “I thought it was a very good question, and I don’t think you got much of an answer.”
I don't mind overpaying for something when it is going to charity, but the hats don't even look that good anymore. The 1st 2 were nice. I should qualify that by saying some of the team’s hats whose team colors don't include blue or red, like the Giants or Marlins, look horrendous. But the last 2 just seem like the just pumping them out to make money....or raise funds. You decide. I'll give at the office.

Special shout outs go to my nephew, CW2 Michael Brent who deployed with the 3rd Infantry Division in 2003 during the initial invasion of Iraq. He deployed again with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard's 56th Stryker Brigade, the only Stryker Brigade in the Army National Guard in 2009 and also friend, Heather, who just joined the Navy although I question her choice as to which branch to enlist in. (Absolutely nothing against the Navy, the Wriz just thinks anyone with the last name of Swallow never, EVER, needs to be refered to as Seaman)  Happy Memorial Day. Stay safe and THANK YOU for keeping us safe.

See ya at the ballpark!

Jay Wrizight

1 comment:

  1. Nice piece Wriz. Most charities are a scam. 75% of donations to the Red Cross go to 'administrative costs'. They also have over 50 executives that make in excess of $250,000 a year. One second thought the new hat for 2011 is bad.