Originally created 05/06/04

Baseball sells 'Spider-Man' ads on bases



NEW YORK -- Spider-Man is coming to a base near you.

Ads for "Spider-Man 2" will be placed atop bases at major league ballparks during games from June 11-13 as part of a promotion announced Wednesday.

The move is the latest push by baseball to increase its marketing to younger fans - and make money along the way.

"I guess it's inevitable, but it's sad," said Fay Vincent, a former baseball commissioner and former president of Columbia Pictures, which is releasing the movie. "I'm old-fashioned. I'm a romanticist. I think the bases should be protected from this."

The "Spider-Man" promotion has been in the works for more than a year and will include ad buys and ballpark events, such as giving masks to fans, said Jacqueline Parkes, baseball's senior vice president for marketing and advertising. The ads, about 4 inches long, won't appear on home plates.

The announcement of the promotion, first reported Wednesday by The Wall Street Journal, comes a week after jockeys at the Kentucky Derby won the right to wear ads on their uniforms.

"Spider-Man" opens June 30, and the weekend in early June was picked because it is during interleague play, which draws higher attendance than usual.

"We need to reach out to a younger demographic to bring them to the ballpark," Parkes said. "They are looking for nontraditional breakthrough ways to convey 'Spider-Man' messaging. ... It's the future of how we generate excitement inside the stadium and about the game itself."

Baseball will receive about $3.6 million in a deal negotiated by Major League Baseball Properties with Marvel Studios and Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Inc., a high-ranking baseball executive said on condition of anonymity.

The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox will get more than $100,000 each, one team executive said, also on condition of anonymity. Most other 13 teams that are home that weekend will get about $50,000 apiece, the executive said.

Parkes said the amount a team receives depends on the level of its participation. Geoffrey Ammer, president of marketing for the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, was not immediately available for comment, spokesman Steve Elzer said.

Ralph Nader, a presidential candidate and consumer advocate, criticized the deal. He wrote Tuesday to baseball commissioner Bud Selig, denouncing the decision to have ads on uniforms during the season-opening series in March between the Yankees and Tampa Bay in Tokyo.

"It's gotten beyond grotesque," Nader said. "The fans have to revolt here. Otherwise, they'll be looking at advertisements between advertisements."

In separate promotions, the bases also will feature pink ribbons Sunday as part of a Mother's Day promotion to raise breast-cancer awareness, and they will have blue ribbons on Father's Day, June 20, to raise prostate-cancer awareness.