Competition for the San Francisco Giants isn’t another baseball team but the multitude of entertainment options in San Francisco, Giants President Larry Baer, BA 80, told Haas undergraduate students during a guest lecture Nov. 8, about a week after the team won the World Series.
“Our competition isn’t the A’s; it is anything in the vicinity that can attract leisure time for three or four hours,” Baer said in a visit to NBC news anchor Diane Dwyer's Media Consulting course. With so many options in a wealthy area, Baer said, “we’re competing for the entertainment hour, not dollar.”
Social media is very important and can set off the next Giants merchandise trend, such as Pablo Sandoval “panda” hats, he said. But social media has its downside, as the team realized this year when player Melky Cabrera, or the “Melk Man,” a nickname the team promoted, was suspended for testing positive for testosterone, a banned substance, prompting a storm of social media jabs.
The team went into crisis-management mode after the suspension. Inside the organization, the message was that each person needed to pick it up to make up for the loss, and outside it was that the Giants were disappointed, and didn’t see it coming, according to Baer. “We were fortunate enough to have enough good will to not comingle the sour Melky brand with the Giants brand,” he said.
Baer, a fourth-generation San Franciscan and Cal graduate, also spoke about the Giants’ recent success and the entertainment value of going to a game. He said one reason the Giants work so hard to make AT&T Park such a great entertainment destination is because “you can’t guarantee what will happen on the field,” but you can control the experience and make it as entertaining and fun as possible.
“We want to stay humble because if we aren’t and end up at .500 or worse, the perception will change,” Baer said. “Sports are volatile.”