Historic: The last time the Red Sox won the World Series was 1918. *AFP photo
Historic: The last time the Red Sox won the World Series was 1918. *AFP photo

The Red Sox went from last to first in just one baseball season, effectively rewarding the marketing partners with them through a lean season in 2012. 

Bermuda Tourism can’t ride the wave of the victory parade tomorrow in Boston because it was not an official Red Sox brand partner in 2013 as it had been in recent years and there are varied opinions about whether it was ever a wise move to begin with.

A Tourism Board member from the previous government told the Bermuda Sun, “We play cricket, rugby, golf. We sail and scuba dive. We are niche and not at all about stadium or mass market.

“Baseball to me is about beer, loud, hot dogs and has nothing to do with the refinement Bermuda is about.”

In 2009, Bermuda Tourism spent $650,000 in its first official marketing partnership with the Red Sox. The package included signage at Fenway Park, advertisements on New England Sports Network and NESN.com and “Bermuda Nights” at Fenway Park where a Bermuda representative threw out the ceremonial first pitch and another sang the US National Anthem.

The Department of Tourism continued its relationship in multiple seasons post-2009, but tourism officials did not provide information on the amount of money spent in the subsequent marketing agreements. In 2013, tourism officials signed a deal with the New York Yankees and passed on the Red Sox (apart from occasional ad placements).

At the World Series in Boston, Red Sox fan Rich Joseph said he was familiar with Bermuda marketing as a result of following the Red Sox.

“Here there’s an advertizing cooperation with Fenway on TV all the time.  You get to know what Bermuda’s about,” he said.  “It’s a beautiful island. So we decided to go as a family one year and we’re going to go back.”

On Facebook the public weighed in on whether a marketing relationship with the Red Sox was good for taxpayers and tourism. Overwhelmingly the responses were in favour, including Sandra Boden who said: “I think any exposure is good exposure.  Not to mention that Boston is super close and the Red Sox has loads of fans.”

Rick Olsen on Facebook was less certain: “Are we getting bang for buck is the question?  I personally like the affiliation, but why are numbers still going down is the question we need
answered.”

David Dodwell, in charge of building a new management structure for tourism, seems to agree with those fundamental questions. He said: “There are two criteria; how many people does it bring into Bermuda and/or what does it do to the awareness of Bermuda.

“The Rugby Classic brings in x number of people to play and watch and that is easy to measure.  It’s heads in beds and dollars in room rates. Then on top of that you get the film on Sky that is distributed and creates awareness of Bermuda.

“It comes down to a very careful cost benefit analysis prior to the project.”

Linda Mitchel, a Boston-area travel agent who sells Bermuda, is convinced the partnership worked in the past and she would like to see it in the future.  She said: “It gives the fans something to remember, a desire to visit for the first time or once again and a deep-seated appreciation of the connection that Bermuda has established with them through their beloved ball team.”

If Bermuda’s tourism officials decide to return to a Red Sox marketing partnership the price may be higher than it was the last time the two sides talked.  Going from worst to best tends to do that.