One of the all time great episodes of the NBC sitcom Seinfeld was “The Comeback” from the show’s eighth season.
One of the plotlines followed George Costanza as he tried to think of a comeback after a colleague at the New York Yankees zinged him for hogging shrimp at a party.
“Hey George, the ocean called. They’re running out of shrimp.”
Unfortunately, the fellow who nailed him left the Yankees to work for Firestone Tires. George, desperate to get back at him with his carefully crafted response (”Oh yeah? Well the jerk store called, and they’re running out of you!”) sets up a meeting with Firestone to become a partner of the Yankees, and sponsor “Snow Tire Day” at the stadium, where every fan gets a snow tire.
George goes to Akron, Ohio, and the following exchange occurs:
REILLY: So, George. You’re proposing a snow tire day at Yankee Stadium?
GEORGE: (through a mouthful) Long as they don’t throw ‘em on the field. (laughs) Help yourself to some shrimp, I brought enough for everybody.
MCADAM: I have to say, this proposal doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
GEORGE: Well, you never know. (picks up more shrimp) Let’s see how many I can fit in my mouth.
[George begins picking up shrimp one by one and stuffing them into his mouth.]
REILLY: (leaning forward) You know, George…
[George looks up, expectantly.]
REILLY: The ocean called. They’re running outta shrimp.
[Everyone around the table laughs. Except for George, who looks triumphant. He swallows, and uses a napkin to clean his fingers.]
GEORGE: (standing) Oh yeah, Reilly? (smugly) Well, the jerk store called. They’re running outta you
REILLY: (unperturbed) What’s the difference? You’re their all-time best seller!
[Reilly and everyone else laughs even more than they did before. George looks angry and frustrated, even on the verge of tears for a second, then something occurs to him.]
GEORGE: Yeah? Well, I had sex with your wife.
[George looks round, smiling arrogantly, expecting laughter. But there is a deep, uncomfortable, silence. Reilly, looks stony-faced. McAdam stands and leans over to speak in George’s ear.]
MCADAM: His wife is in a coma.
[George looks sick.]
Script courtesy of Seinfeldscripts.com
Classic Seinfeld. And now, closer than ever to reality. Today (December 18, 2009) Major League Baseball announced that Firestone Tires would become the very first “Official Tire of Major League Baseball.” At the heart of the deal will be Firestone branding on all of MLB’s All Star Game ballots at its stadiums and a major presence during All-Star Week.
The deal did not mention shrimp, or snow tire day, or Seinfeld, in fact, the following quote from John Baratta, President of Consumer Tire Replacement Sales for Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations, seems to forget how close the brand came to partnering with the Yankees that fateful day in 1997.
“This is a tremendous opportunity to elevate the Firestone brand to new heights of consumer awareness and visibility,” said Baratta. “To be able to partner with a sport as dynamic and successful as baseball opens up a new world of possibilities to continue to strengthen our brand loyalty, bolster our marketing support for our family of retailers and reach out to millions of new consumers who are loyal to MLB and its prestigious roster of official sponsors.”
Next thing you know MLB will switch its uniforms to cotton, because it has more breathability.