03/19/08 4:00 PM ET
MLB a success in Japan
By / MLB.com
-- The Seattle Mariners experienced an increase of almost 60 percent in licensed merchandise when Ichiro Suzuki began playing in 2001. As the first popular position player from Japan to break into MLB, Ichiro experienced immediate success as he was named to the American League All-Star team, won 2001 American League Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player and a Gold Glove. [Increase in general MLB business of about 10 percent].
-- The New York Yankees, the No. 1 selling team worldwide, experienced an increase of 10 percent when "Godzilla" Hideki Matsui came to MLB from the Yomiuri Giants. [Increase in general MLB business of about 30 percent]. Major League Baseball opened the first MLB Clubhouse store outside the United States in Japan on April 5, 2007. Located on a main shopping street in Shibuya (Tokyo), this 2,500-square-foot store delivers the MLB message to baseball fans by providing them with authentic MLB merchandise. The store features the 30 MLB Clubs, collectible items and memorabilia, information on the history of MLB, authentic and replica collection, jewelry, accessories and video games. An additional Clubhouse store is currently planned to open in Osaka.
MLBI highlighted the Dream BIG marketing campaign in Japan this past season in an extensive advertisement program on one of Japan Railway's most popular train lines, the Yamanote line, for two weeks in August 2007. With stops in many of Tokyo's most popular areas, the Yamanote line averages nearly 4.35 million riders each day. Ten train cars were decorated with Dream BIG-themed advertising, licensed consumer product photos and retail information for more than 60 Major League Baseball partners. Each car was also equipped with a TV screen that was stationed above doors where riders were able to watch MLB game footage. MLB distributed limited edition postcards at participating retain locations if they mentioned the Dream BIG train.
Over the past 20 years, MLB has staged more than 90 All-Star, regular-season, Spring Training and Opening Day games throughout Japan.
The popularity of Major League Baseball continued to thrive under the fourth year of MLB International's exclusive deal with Japanese rightsholder Dentsu, Inc. Coverage of MLB games under the long-term, six-year agreement included daily coverage of MLB games collectively on over-the-air Japanese networks Fuji, NHK and TBS. In addition, MLB games were made available via satellite television channels NHK BS and Sky Perfect TV! each week. MLB games were also carried on JOLF radio as part of the agreement.
MLB's virtual signage partners from Japan remained active in 2007. Electronically inserting advertising behind home plate on telecasts of the All-Star Game, American League Championship Series, World Series and select regular-season matchups, MLB once again provided a unique advertising opportunity to its Japanese partners. Among the companies advertising via virtual signage this year was Jaccs, Konami, Netz-Automobile Dealership, KAO-Healthy Water, FEPC (Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan) and MasterCard.
The Major League Baseball Festival returned to Tokyo in April 2007 and was attended by more than 20,000 fans over its two day tour. Coordinated by MLB's Japanese broadcast partner Nippon Hoso Kyokai (NHK), the Tokyo Festival featured a special open studio broadcast on the big screen of Ichiro Suzuki and the Seattle Mariners against the Cleveland Indians. is a mobile, interactive fan experience. Renovated in 2004, the Festival provides local baseball fans with a genuine MLB experience that includes over 10 different attractions, including multiple batting cages and pitching tunnels, a baseball mini-field and official store and an interactive zone including Sony Playstation2 consoles.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.