Lee Pitts: Paired up
If you’ve been to a USTRC roping lately you’ve probably noticed many of the contestants wearing brand names on their sleeves and logos over their heart. Athletes these days are walking billboards. I wonder, do the ropers get paid for wearing such shirts or do the shirts just show up in their mailbox? How and who gets chosen to represent these companies and why do some shirts have a lot more logos than others?
It’s not just athletes, I noticed that a famous cowboy poet wearing a nice shirt with the name of a cattle chute embroidered on it. And who amongst us hasn’t worn a ball cap with the name of a cattle wormer on it?
Is anything safe from advertising these days? If you want to watch a news clip on the Internet you must first watch an ad that is longer then the news clip. The National Basketball Association has announced that they are going to start selling ad space on the player’s jerseys, this after the arenas they play in sold their naming rights, including the Smoothie King Center in Louisiana and the Vivant Smart Home Arena in Salt Lake. Catchy, huh?
I bought a book the other day with the name Tom Clancy on the cover thinking he wrote it. Silly me, after I got home I realized that someone else wrote the book and Tom Clancy didn’t write a word. (Kinda hard anyway because he’s been dead for three years.) Publishers have created these big names and don’t want their investments ruined just because the author croaked. I was once told that I should create a brand and then have others write my column for me. Really? Has my writing gotten that bad?
If you ever see me with a company logo on my shirt it’s because I was groggy when I woke up, put my shirt on inside out and you’re reading the little tag that says, “J.C. Penney, Medium.”
The closest I ever came to having a corporate tie-in was when the writers of a rotten TV show called Supermanny phoned and wanted to use a column I wrote on the show. I didn’t get paid for it and it sold exactly zero of my books so I’m not exactly sold on the concept. I suppose I could sell my soul to become the “official voice of the Barzona Breeders,” or maybe I could sell some space in the middle of my column to the makers of a stool softener or manure spreaders. I’d imagine one of the problems is that to become a spokesman or representative for a multinational conglomerate you’d have to look presentable and wouldn’t embarrass yourself in public.
I could never promise that.
I always thought it was risky for a company to use “just folks” like me as walking billboards. What happens when a roper goes into a bad slump wearing the logo of a rope on his or her chest, wouldn’t that convey a negative image that maybe the rope wasn’t all that reliable? Do the rope companies ever ask the ropers not to wear their shirts any more? Does Wrangler stop sending free shirts to a wearer if their drunken mug shot with “Wrangler” written around their collar ends up on the front page of the local newspaper?
Companies are taking a big risk handing out shirts with their logo on them. Before there was a Bob Tallman there was Lex Connelly. I grew up listening to his wonderful voice at rodeos and on television. He was “The Man” when it came to rodeo announcing. One time Casey Tibbs, a great practical joker, gave Lex some beautiful shirts with the initials “L.C.” and a small logo embroidered on the left front pocket. Lex loved the shirts so Casey kept sending them. Until, that is, when Lex wore one to announce a rodeo on ABC’s Wide World of Sports which had a huge worldwide audience, especially in Japan. You can imagine Lex’s embarrassment when he was told after the show that the little logo on the shirt Casey sent him told the Japanese to to do something to themselves in words that would have caused me to get my mouth washed out with Lava when I was a child. And Lava was reserved for the REALLY bad words. And now a word from my sponsor.
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The thing I miss most from my childhood is raising steers for the fair. I’ve never found any activity since that provided the same competitiveness, camaraderie, financial reward, fun or friendship. And when I say…