It’s simply arresting.
For a couple of decades, some of the most unavoidable ads have been those signs behind the batter in baseball games, picked up by the cameras live and later in highlights.
Still, even as the ads switch throughout a game, they can lose star power.
Heavily exposed brands can fade into the background. Beers, telecom, airlines -- all staples in the prime location -- can run together. Even hospitals and casinos don’t exactly stand out any more.
But then, a sign pops up in a completely unexpected category and you do a double-take. How about bail bonds?
In San Diego, Aladdin Bail Bonds appears once a game during home Padres games -- 81 times a season -- ready for capture by Fox Sports San Diego and other networks’ cameras.
It’s not clear how the San Diego Chamber of Commerce and other civic leaders may feel about this. Aladdin doesn’t keep renewing with the Padres each year if its investment doesn’t work. And if it works, it means lots of people in San Diego need to post bail. Which means … well, you get the picture.
Community image aside, Aladdin is pleased how its ads have raised its profile. They get noticed -- Joe Giansante, who runs media operations, refers to them as “the bright body suit walking down Madison Avenue.” They also put Aladdin -- with a logo reminiscent of the one used for the eponymous Disney movie -- in good company.
Take Wednesday night, Aladdin’s signs ran in the half-inning between ads for U.S. Bank and State Farm. The hope is that viewers will then begin to think Aladdin isn’t the prototypical shabby shop located across from the county jail, but an operation that will show up quickly after that proverbial “one phone call.”
“(The) brand gets reinforced by being associated with the Padres and all the other sponsors they have,” said Giansante, the communications and media director at Aladdin.
Aladdin, which bills itself as the country’s largest bail bonds company, has more than 50 retail locations in California, Washington and Idaho open 24/7.
In addition to TV visibility, Aladdin’s multi-tiered relationship with the Padres this season has included handing out branded schedules and decals on Opening Day and a scoreboard feature. It also owns a suite at Petco Park that it donates to military members and the Boys & Girls Clubs, which receives an in-park plug.
The company also just a signed a deal with the high-profile Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, which includes a presence in English- and Spanish-radio broadcasts in California’s largest market. When the opposing team has runners on base and the Angels get out of trouble, the announcer offers up something like “if you’re ever in a jam, Aladdin Bail Bonds will get you out and get you through it.”
Bail is “really an impulse buy,” Giansante says.
“Being top-of-mind is critical when it comes to marketing that product.”
The affable Giansante views his job through the lens a CMO might at a Fortune 500 company. He talks about CPMs, sponsorship activation and how critical metrics are in evaluating effectiveness. If decisions are made about bail in minutes, decisions on Aladdin’s media strategy are laborious and made with guidance from agencies and others.
“I think a lot of people think because it’s bail bonds (the company) doesn’t necessarily apply a lot of sophistication to that … we’re no different from a Toyota or a McDonald’s in how we buy, in how we plan and the analysis that we do,” he said.
Though the Padres sponsorship pre-dates him, it’s not a surprise that Aladdin has just moved deeper into sports marketing with the deal with the Angels.
Giansante’s journey to Aladdin is about as unusual as a bail bonds company integrated into Major League Baseball action. A little over a year ago, Giansante joined the company after serving as the senior associate athletic director at the University of Oregon.
There, he negotiated radio and TV deals for the sports teams and managed brand marketing, which had him working closely with Nike. Oregon’s athletic department, which is viewed as a pacesetter in college sports marketing, has well-known ties to the shoe and apparel company.
“At Oregon by osmosis, you learn a lot from Nike because you are dealing with the smartest people in the world in these areas,” he said.
Before moving into athletic administration, he served as a TV play-by-play announcer for Oregon basketball, football and baseball for 12 years before the formation of the Pac-12 networks.
He met Rob Hayes, chief of Aladdin parent Two Jinn, at a baseball game between Oregon and the University of San Diego and the two started talking branding. Hayes would occasionally call to pick his brain before a job offer came.
“I’m probably the first person to ever jump from college athletics to the bail bond business,” he says.
An unlikely -- but legal -- move.