TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, October 6, 2005

Red Sox Lose, Brand Endures

Red_soxAs long-time readers of this blog know (see here), I am a zealous member of Red Sox Nation.  Although I am down in the dumps after last night's loss to the White Sox, an article in the Wharton School newsletter that arrived this morning cheered me up:  Why the Red Sox Brand Keeps Hitting Home Runs:

Although legendary sports franchises like the New York Yankees baseball team and Manchester United football club have achieved global brand awareness, some would argue that baseball's Boston Red Sox has become the premier brand in sports today, particularly under a relatively new ownership team that fully recognizes and exploits the brand in unique ways.

While the Yankees brand has long been characterized by its signature pinstripes and brazen successes, the Red Sox built a brand based, among other things, on its 86-year, Sisyphean quest for a championship. Futility at the end of countless valiant seasons transformed the team into an undaunted everyman, a sympathetic underdog that fought the good fight to the end. The legacy of near victory/inevitable defeat spawned a different kind of response among its passionate followers -- a devotion that is religious in nature, a complex weave of familial and communal bonds that transcend mere fan worship.

Given that the Red Sox finally overcame alleged curses and nearly nine decades of futility by winning the World Series in 2004 (and as of this writing, are in the playoffs for a record third straight season), the question arises: What happens now? How will the fans accommodate this unfamiliar notion that they have a championship team? Will the brand itself be altered, even destroyed, by that cathartic moment of success?

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