If you are a baseball, or just Philadelphia Phillies fan, then you must have caught wind of the buzz around the team signing All-Star outfielder Bryce Harper. Even if you are not a baseball or Phillies fan, I don’t know how you would have been able to miss all the buzz about it on social media. The Phillies were in search of star power this offseason and got just that. This was not an easy feat, though – the entire process took 117 days. A shared emotion among Phillies fan, it was a somewhat frustrating experience as we would hear a lot of “Bryce is talking to the Phillies” and “Harper will soon make a decision.” Not really giving us anything solid to work with.
Regardless, we got him! Since the signing of Bryce Harper, his jersey set a company record by becoming the top online seller of any player of any sport during the first 48 hours after its launch, according to Fanatics. Prior to Harper, the record belonged to LeBron James after signing with the LA Lakers. Bryce’s jersey sales raked in over $120,000 just from the Phillies team store alone. This is not the only record this signing broke, though. Harper’s 13-year $330 million dollar contract is the richest deal in North American sports history. The Phillies have also sold roughly 350,000 tickets within a week. That’s a lot to live up to if you ask me.
Receiving the ESPN notification that Bryce had beat LeBron in jersey sales absolutely shocked me. Of course I knew this signing was a big deal, but I didn’t forecast an MLB player’s jersey to outsell an NBA player’s jersey. I largely believe this jersey record was set because of how much this acquisition was talked about on social media. Think about it – for 117 days, rumors circulated about Bryce Harper coming to the Phillies. Whether you wanted to or not, you had to see it on your feed or timeline and if you cared about it, it kept you on the edge of your seat begging for more. It made you think about the trade, imagine what it would be like to have him here, get to know him before the deal actually happened and ultimately become a fan. This is also amazing to me because in the sport of baseball, that everyone claims popularity to be declining, a member of the league just broke a jersey sales record across all sports. Not even across all sports, but he beat LeBron James, one of the most popular athletes we will see in our lifetimes.
I think this displays how powerful social media can be as a tool to stimulate buzz around a story and to market a product to create unbelievable profits.
Citations: http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/26137051/harper-bests-lebron-jersey-mark https://www.si.com/mlb/2019/03/04/bryce-harper-phillies-jersey-sales-record-lebron-james https://94wip.radio.com/blogs/eliot-shorr-parks/phillies-bryce-harper-lebron-james-baseball https://twitter.com/BNightengale?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor