From the Enquirer: They knew how to sell the team:
The Big Red Machine of the 1970s got it right not only on the field, but in their merchandising, says Charles Sotto.
"They (the Reds front office) knew what they had: They had the Big Red Machine and they had the oldest professional baseball team in history," Sotto said.
"And the advantage they had (over today's Reds merchandisers) is that nowadays merchandising is controlled by Major League Baseball, not the teams. Who knows better than the team the uniqueness of their own market?"
Then- Reds general manager Bob Howsam was a "brilliant" person who hired the best and brightest and let them work, Sotto said. Free to create as they chose, unconstrained by MLB's merchandising arm, they commissioned everything from ashtrays to pens to mini-bats to high-end art pieces with such themes such as a scene around the batting cage, Pete Rose and Johnny Bench, Rose's collision with Ray Fosse in the 1970 All-Star Game, Bench behind the plate and a George Foster - Ted Kluszewski strongman piece. Why, they even dipped way back into history to commemorate Johnny Vander Meer's consecutive no-hitters in 1938.
"They got it," Sotto said. "They were on the mark. They didn't allow other companies to market their team. They marketed their team. They had products that were different than everybody else, so you had to go to the Reds gift shop to get them."
The current Reds merchandise/marketing people do a great job, Sotto said.
"They squeeze everything they can out of what they have," Sotto said. "But they are hindered by some of the walls that Major League Baseball has constructed around merchandising."
The Reds marketing people play under the same rules as every other team in baseball, so I don't really think that excuse flies.
With the change in ownership I'm hoping that the Reds will begin to market themselves a little differently. They've been leaving money on the table for years, simply because they're not willing to do more than have a bobblehead night every now and again.
Focus: How would you market the Reds differently?
Personally, I'd go back to targeting the out of state market. I can remember reading the list of Reds radio affiliates when I was a kid and being amazed that they had affiliates as far south as Florida. There's no reason that the Reds can't do more marketing in Tennessee/West Virginia/Indiana, etc.