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High-def TV a home run for bat maker

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Kai Ryssdal: The New York Yankees take another step down the road to their 27th World Series title this evening. The Fall Classic opens tonight in New York: the Yanks against the Phillies. My sympathies clearly lie with the Yankees. But there’s at least one fan out there rooting for both teams. Not that he can’t make up his mind. It’s just that no matter who’s at bat, his company hits a home run. Just one catch, though. Viewers have to be watching in High Definition. Sally Herships explains.

SALLY HERSHIPS: Jack Marucci makes baseball bats in Baton Rouge. He says he started out six years ago with a homemade one for his son and now 30 percent of major league players use his bats.

Tonight Phillies’ stars Ryan Howard, and Chase Utley and the Yankees’ Jorge Pasado will swing Marucci bats. And here’s the crazy part: Marucci says he hasn’t paid a penny to promote his brand.

JACK MARUCCI: Because we don’t have any marketing. Our marketing has been no marketing.

But his sales are up from last year — way up.

MARUCCI: I’d say at least 40-45 percent.

Marucci says TV has been doing all the work for him. Not regular TV, but high definition. HD shows every detail of every play, including a tiny logo on the side of a bat. Once people see major league players using his bats, Marucci says they want to know where to buy one.

Bill Glenn is a marketer in Dallas. He says this kind of exposure is hard to get.

BILL GLENN: There’s very little real estate for brands to show their image. If you look at the NFL and the NBA, they’re just now starting to look at logos on practice jerseys. And those are practice jerseys, not even game jerseys we’re talking about.

Glenn says for sponsors who do find a spot, those deals can cost millions each year. In the meantime, Jack Marucci’s baseball bats are getting their airtime for free.

In New York, I’m Sally Herships for Marketplace.

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