By Barry Janoff
November 8, 2016: David “Big Papi” Ortiz has officially been retired from MLB since Oct.10, the day the Boston Red Sox lost to the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series and were eliminated from post-season play.
But for Ortiz, who played 20 years in the Majors, retirement ain't no big thing.
Since walking out of Fenway Park, Ortiz has over the past month been involved in a seemingly non-stop array of events and marketing activities, from appearing in TV spots and on TV shows to promoting cigars, beer, chips, salsa, T-shirts and The David Ortiz Children's Foundation, and even attending World Series games.
This week, MLB Advanced Media broke a TV spot, “Sharp In Retirement,” with Ortiz and Joe Torre, former MLB player and manager and currently the league’s evp-baseball operations, for StatCast powered by Amazon Web Services. It shows Ortiz in his post-baseball life: Taking naps, mowing the lawn, throwing out the garbage, making pancakes in his kitchen and watching soap operas.
The theme mirrors that of two campaigns, from Nationwide and DirecTV, both with spokesman Peyton Manning, who retired from the NFL following his Super Bowl 50 victorious season with the Denver Broncos but is omni-present on TV and NFL telecasts.
In his ads. Manning — who also appears in ads for Papa John's — is seen wearing a bathrobe while trying to fill his day by shopping, cooking for friends, meeting acquaintances for lunch and calling his brother Eli on a Sunday afternoon to come watch football on TV — which the younger Manning can’t do because he still quarterbacks for the New York Giants.
In the Ortiz StatCast spot, MLBAM shows how it employs Player Tracking System "to capture and analyze every play using data-collection and analysis tools," such has hitting, catching and running the bases. That is translated to Ortiz when the PTS analyzes his retirement activities. When the metrics show that Ortiz has failed to properly mow the lawn, Torre, with his own lawn mower, says to him, “You gotta bring your ‘A’ game if you’re going to make it in this neighborhood.”
Among other marketers whose humorous creative have imagined Ortiz’s retirement are JetBlue’s "David Ortiz vs. Piñatas" and ESPN’s "Papi’s Gonna Be Rich," with JetBlue envisioning him with a baseball bat going to birthday party smashing piñatas and This Is SportsCenter finding Ortiz brainstorming such products as “Papi-cycles,” “Papi-corn” and “Big Papi Pizza.”
Although the StatCast spot with Ortiz is also done tongue-in-cheek, the scenario of him sitting around the house is as far from the truth as possible.
Among the activities on Ortiz’ schedule, he launched Big Papi Cigars — because "Real man need a real cigar" — including attending a Big Papi Cigar Dinner on Nov. 3 in Central Lounge in Queens, NY, which was billed as “an upscale evening of dining, drinking, networking and cigar smoking.”
The next day, Ortiz was in Boston to publicize Big Hapi, a bold mango juice-infused double IPA, via Sam Adams. They brewed just 541 bottles, to match Ortiz’s career regular season home run total, that were available exclusively at the Sam Adams Boston Brewery.
The entire inventory was sold, at $29.99 each — with bottle No. 34, his Red Sox jersey, going to Ortiz. All proceeds went to Ortiz's Children’s Fund, which partners with Massachusetts General Hospital for Children and World Pediatric Project "helping children in New England and the Dominican Republic who do not have access to the critical pediatric services they need."
According to Sam Adams founder Jim Koch, "Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to watch David Ortiz hit homers out of the park while enjoying a cold Sam Adams . . . We’re thrilled to honor our hometown baseball hero by doing what we do best, brewing beer, and giving craft beer and baseball fans a commemorative brew to honor an extraordinary legend."
Also new in marketing, Ortiz appeared in a commercial for Big Papi’s Kitchen, "Clutch," from MK3 Creative. Big Papi’s Kitchen sells such products tortilla chips, hummus and salsas (sold at Target, Legman’s, ShopRite, Shaw’s and elsewhere), with proceeds benefiting the Children’s Fund.
Ortiz has continued to expand Big Papi Productions, which has created exclusive content for The Big Papi Network on Verizon’s Go90 mobile video platform, such as "Storytime with Big Papi" and "Retirement Coffee with Big Papi," in which he tries to fill his retirement calendar by working at a real Dunkin' Donuts (a partner for both Ortiz and the Red Sox).
Among others, Big Papi Productions also worked with ESPN’s 30 for 30 on The Last Walkout, a four-part series and a half-hour special that focused on Ortiz’s final season. The last episode premiered this past month, with Ortiz and his marketing agent/manager, Alex Radetsky, serving as executive producers.
Ortiz’s cottage industry also include BigPapiShop.com, with Big Papi-themed headwear, apparel, novelties and memorabilia.
Meanwhile . . .
Ortiz appeared on Late Night with Seth Meyers; attended several World Series games; supported UNICEF efforts to send relief to Haiti in the wake of Hurricane Matthew; promoted T-shirts that read, “Retired Not Expired 2016,” designed by his daughter Alex, with proceeds benefiting The David Ortiz Children’s Fund; and visited the headquarters of New Balance, one of his marketing partners, to meet employees and accept a $10,000 donation for his Fund.
Of course, his upcoming schedule may be no less hectic.
On Nov. 11, he will be the guest of honor at the Worcester (MA) Telegram & Gazette’s 150th anniversary party, labeled A Legendary Evening featuring David Ortiz, which will raise funds for T&G’s Santa program.
On Nov. 13, he is expected to make an appearance in Boston’s TD Garden for Kellogg's Tour Of Gymnastics Champions, to support his friend, Aly Raisman and other members of the women’s gold medal winning U.S. Gymnastics team.
He currently is preparing to host the 9th annual David Ortiz Celebrity Golf Classic, scheduled for Dec. 1-4 in Al Sol Resort Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. Part of the event will be the Big Papi Official Retirement Celebration, with proceeds going to his Children’s Fund.
The David Ortiz Children’s Fund is also anticipating the 2017 Boston Marathon this April and is building Team Papi to run in the event.
And there likely will be a celebration when JetBlue officially renames Gate 34 in Terminal C in Boston’s Logan Airport in his honor, similar to the one he recently received when the Brookline Avenue Bridge near Fenway was rechristened with his name.
Ortiz’s marketing deals also include Buffalo Wild Wings, Fanatics, Chef’s Cut Real Jerky and PowerHandz.
During his farewell season, Ortiz-specific marketing support came from Red Sox partners Coca-Cola and JetBlue and Dunkin’ Donuts, as well as MasterCard, Sony PlayStation and New Era ’47 Brand.
As Ortiz related, quoting a message he received from a friend, "Man, you’re #$@$ your retirement up!"
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