Matsui in Demand

» 16 November 2009 » In international baseball, nichibei, sports business »

Before free agent Hideki Matsui begins receiving calls for his service on the field, he’ll have a different set of suitors to field offers from: companies seeking him for endorsements.

According to reports, since the MVP performance in the World Series he has had eight offers to appear in commercials (three from existing sponsors and five additional prospective sponsors). Matsui’s price tag for each commercial appearance is estimated in the same range as Ichiro Suzuki, and his MVP performance could bring in up $10 million in earnings this off-season.

Media demand has also rocketed for Matsui, as he has received an estimated 100 requests for television and event appearances in his home country. Even though his home for next season has yet to be determined, it’s not an understatement to say his new team (if the Yankees does not re-sign him) will have an opportunity to develop a big presence in the Land of the Rising Sun.

That opportunity sets Matsui apart from the rest of the free agent pool, in some regards. The Japanese-language signage we’ve been seeing in Yankee Stadium during Matsui’s tenure with the Yankees is sure to follow him wherever he goes. Every news program in Japan will show highlights from Matsui’s game, so a well-timed advertisement behind the plate will reach millions of Japanese homes on a nightly basis. With this comes a revenue opportunity that teams won’t get with, say, Jim Thome.

As I was in New York last week the lack of Matsui merchandise in stores was not only obvious, but also well publicized. You can count on the Japanese business community not missing out on this opportunity and making the most out of his MVP performance in number of ways.

Patrick Newman contributed a few thoughts to this post.

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