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March 19, 2014
International Branding of Baseball
This past summer saw arguably the most successful World Baseball Classic yet. The tournament had great games, and the country teams were able to field players everyone wanted to watch. MLB and other baseball organizations must have been proud.

Proud enough, too, to start pushing towards new pursuits.

In Australia, major league teams are holding exhibition games against each other and against the Australian national teams in a recently renovated baseball park; it was originally a famous cricket stadium. The goal is to slowly introduce American baseball and gradually grow a following.

Though baseball isn't new in the United States, compared to other sports around the world, it is relatively young. Introducing a new concept into markets can be a challenge. Like most human behavior, consumers like to stick with what they know: the path of least resistance. If consumers (and in this case, Australian sports enthusiasts) believe that the barriers of learning and becoming a fan of a new sport is difficult, without any real incentive, than baseball will have trouble finding good footing.

So the question is: what's in it for Australians?

Is Brand America still powerful enough for Australian sportspeople to be drawn to the popular American sports? If the Australian national teams do well against the MLB teams, will it ignite some excitement of baseball, hoping for success in something new? Or, is it worth considering for the simple fact that it is not originating in England?

In any case, starting something new entails delayed gratification. Nothing starting now will make money. No, the goal is to build a foundation for things to come. 

And it looks like MLB and others are willing to wait it out.

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Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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