Cincinnati’s own Christian Moerlein Lager House placed an ad in the April 25, 2012, edition of CityBeat inviting baseball fans to enjoy ‘Beer & Brats’ during the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs series, May 1-3, in the Queen City. No harm in that … but Reds fans found exception with the strategically placed “Wrigley South” graphic that accompanied the ad. In recent years, Cubs road games in Cincinnati have been more like home games.
The reaction: many avid Reds fans took to social media and blogs, blasting Christian Moerlein for promoting the restaurant to the enemy:
- “Certainly Christian Moerlein Brewing Co. couldn’t be so stupid to piss off the home fans that support their establishment the entire year. Feel free to like their page and let them know what you think, as I did. What’s next, a Cardinals flag flying during the STL series??”
- “Wrigley South? Are you kidding me? I’ll be at Holy Grail.”
- “Your beer tasted a lot better than your marketing team does their job. How could you think advertising to the hated rival of the city in which you do business was a good idea? It is a slap in the face to the customers that support you 365 days to get additional business from people that will be here for 3-9 days a year. What a shame!”
In an attempt to address the matter, Lager House CEO Greg Hardman went on-air with Cincinnati radio personality Bill Cunningham (700-WLW) and apologized to Reds fans. In addition, this response was posted to the Lager House Facebook page:
We admit the upcoming promotion for the next Reds series was unfortunately misguided with respect to message, and we are truly sorry and apologize if we’ve offended any fans.
Our intention was to help cheer on our Reds and give visiting Cubs fans a taste of what makes Cincinnati so special, showcasing our great new riverfront and our city and to bring positive exposure to it. It was not intended to root for the away team, and we apologize if it was taken that way. We are Reds fans through and through. We are going to call this promotional event what it was truly intended to be “a rally for our Reds.”
In related news, the Cincinnati Reds came under fire last week when they honored the University of Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team on Tuesday, April 24, by inviting Head Coach John Calipari to throw out the first pitch. The night allowed Greater Cincinnati CATS fans to see the NCAA National Championship trophy. Some collegiate fans of Ohio State, UC, Xavier and other surrounding schools saw it as a slap in the face that the Reds would do such a thing – their main argument being that Cincinnati is in Ohio and not Kentucky. Really? You’re upset that the Reds are marketing to a particular sect of its fan base that happens to frequent downtown Cincinnati? In 2011, the Reds averaged 12,407 fans during two Tuesday night games in April. On April 24, 2012, they hosted 19,051. I’ll also mention that the Reds Caravan makes stops in Lexington and many other cities in the Commonwealth, and the Reds have 29 radio affiliates in Kentucky (only 22 in Ohio). Let it go.
Similarly, the Lager House was simply trying to market its business and capitalize on one of the largest potential draws of the season. In professional sports, smaller markets like Cincinnati need to be able to attract opposing fans, show them a good time and get them to come back. Cincinnati hopes that The Banks will do just that. While intentions were good, strategic execution was bad. From a PR standpoint, however, I commend the Lager House for responding quickly to the backlash and addressing the issue head-on.
As someone who understands Cincinnati’s great brewing history, wakes up the morning of Reds Opening Day each year jumping around like a 5-year-old and considers himself an avid Reds fan, it bothers me to an extent to see a hometown brand such as Christian Moerlein place an ad like this … but aren’t we overreacting just a little bit?
Let’s be honest – in recent years, Cubs fans have come to Cincinnati in droves, filled seats and arguably cheered louder and more passionately for their team than Reds fans have at GABP. I’ve witnessed it and, point blank, it drives me insane. So here’s my advice to Reds fans: Don’t get mad at the Lager House. Get mad at yourself for allowing each Cubs road trip to Cincinnati feel like a home game.
If you don’t want Great American Ball Park to be known as “Wrigley South,” buy a ticket for the series, wear your Votto jersey, tweet @DatDudeBP to have a solid game and cheer for the home team. If you’re like me and can’t stand to hear the “Let’s Go Cubbies” chant every other inning at GABP, do something about it and drown them out with “Let’s Go Redlegs!” Have fun and show some passion! I think HOF announcer Marty Brennaman might have something to say about this, considering his past outbursts about the Cubbies (classic Marty).
Oh, and to any Cubs fans who try to claim some sort of victory out of this “Wrigley South” uproar, let me please remind you that you haven’t won a World Series since 1908 and somewhere Steve Bartman is still looking over his shoulder in fear.
Who wants to take a trip to Wrigley in August to cheer on the Redlegs? My throwback Larkin jersey is packed and ready to go.