Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011

Brewers postseason program debacle

By Nicole
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Let me preface this by saying that I am a huge supporter of the Brewers PR and Communications departments - I think they do amazing things. They have tapped into some great new markets and constantly come up with innovative ideas for the team to be more fan-friendly.

I purchased a program during each the NLDS and NLCS series. The program for the NLDS was thinner and cost $8. The program for the NLCS was pretty hefty and cost $10.

With all the craziness of the series, I never got around to reading either of the programs until today.

I actually had some Gameday programs that I had picked up in the waning weeks of the regular season that I hadn't read either, so I sat down today with a small pile of reading.

The Gameday programs, in case you aren't familiar, are the quarter-sheet sized booklets that the Brewers hand out for free during home games. They're in the cup holders of the nicer seats and available at the program vendors and other places for Free around Miller Park.

There's usually one version of the Gameday for each homestand and they have one or two features on current players or coaches as well as a story about someone in the farm system and info like rosters and upcoming promotions.

Imagine my surprise when I finally got around to the NLDS program and found the stories inside to be some of the same ones I had just read in the Gameday programs. Word for word.

That's right, the program that they charged me $8 for didn't contain one bit of original content, but instead was filled with stories that they had previously given away for free in the Gameday program. The NLDS program also included one single scorecard. You could not purchase a single scorecard for $2, like they sell during the regular season. That means if you were used to keeping score with their scorecards, you had to buy a new program at each home game in order to do so - at a cost of $24. For $6 worth of scorecards and no original content.

The Brewers went all in before the season started with a goal of reaching the playoffs. By the end of August, it was pretty clear that the Brewers would be heading into October baseball and the amazing record in September pretty much sealed the deal.

I'd argue the Brewers had at least a month to put together material for an NLDS program. Plus - they don't usually even write the content that is in the Gameday programs. Those are out-sourced to freelance writers.

So really, the Brewers themselves provided literally no content for their NLDS program. And they re-printed content from other writers and charged people $8 for it.

Fairly enraged, I moved on to the NLCS program. Turns out that program re-printed the same articles that were printed in the NLDS program, which is doubly-insulting. It was bad enough that it was in the NLDS, but now I've had to pay a second time for the exact same content that I paid for once and had gotten free prior to that.

The NLCS program was produced by MLB. It contained tons and tons of generic content, including a story on the Red Sox Adrian Gonzalez and the Rays Joe Maddon - two players and teams who didn't even make the playoffs. There is an insert for the Brewers and that insert is all the unoriginal content. But at least this program had multiple scorecards, so you didn't have to buy multiple programs.

The one article that's in the NLCS program that's not in the NLDS program is on Shaun Marcum and is titled "What a Steal!"

Ain't that a kick in the pants?

I guess maybe I'm making a mountain out of a molehill, but I expect more from the Brewers. I have never before felt like they had done something so specifically designed to take my money and give me nothing in return. I've always been proud of the reasonable ticket prices, the liberal carry-in policy and the Designated Driver program - things that have always left me with a positive impression of the club as fan-friendly and not money-grubbing.

Souvenier programs are collectible. They are memorabilia. I have multiple programs from various events framed in my sports room. It was never a thought to me that I wouldn't buy the programs from these postseason series, so this perceived mistreatment really leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

I accepted increased parking prices and expensive tickets as part of the offseason experience and I defended those prices to fans who declared they were getting price-gouged. I can't help feeling that in this case, we really did get gouged. Other than the cost of printing, these programs didn't cost the Brewers a dime. They existed entirely to make profit for the team.

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