Archive > 10 April 2009

Koshien and the Road to Marketability

» 10 April 2009 » In international baseball, npb, sports business » 3 Comments

An obvious shortcut to marketability in Japan is making a name for yourself in the National High School Tournament held at Koshien Stadium every spring and summer. That’s the road many players took to gain national attention, including Daisuke Matsuzaka, with his stellar performance in the 1998 tournament, and Hideki Matsui, who was intentionally walked in five straight at bats in the 1992 tournament. Let’s take a look at some other Koshien heroes who were on this year’s WBC roster, and how they feature on Japan’s promotional landscape.

  • Masahiro Tanaka (Two-time champion, 2004, 2005 tournaments) has become one of the most newsworthy pitchers in Japan. Known affectionately as Maa-Kun, he has been seen nationally in commercials for organizations such as the Red Cross and House Food Product, which have nothing to do with baseball, but the decided to use him as a symbol. Also the parent company of the Golden Eagles is using Tanaka in thier own business as Rakuten Shouken has assigned him as the image character for their new program, Money TV.
  •  Yu Darvish (No-Hitter, 2004 tournament) is another popular figure appearing in many commercials, but the most interesting use of his character is seen by the Japan Water Forum. The organization partnered with Yu Darvish and founded the Yu Darvish Water Fund, which is not only a charity program that he participates in, but a way to raise awareness of the water problems seen throughout the world.
  • Toshiya Sugiuchi (No-Hitter, 1998 tournament) lacks in national attention compared to the other two, but is still one of the faces of the Softbank Hawks franchise. The Hawks organized a player recognition day for the fans to receive a original photo album by purchasing game tickets in a certain section. The project will kick off with Sugiuchi being the first player to be recognized.

These players are some that comes to mind that are currently playing in the NPB, had on the WBC team roster and performed well in the Koshien Tournament. Not all stars from the tournament are able to transfer their stardom into a professional career, but receiving the coverage from national media throughout the tournament definitely helps players to be more marketable at the start of their professional careers.

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