By Patrick Hruby
Page 2

News item: Eternal Image, a company that makes funeral products, has entered into a licensing agreement with Major League Baseball to produce team-branded urns and caskets.

Why stop there?

In a world where NASCAR has its own cologne -- heck, in a world where NASCAR exists -- too much sports branding is never enough.

(Well, with the possible exception of a network-branded mobile phone.)

"We have been receiving these requests [for urns and caskets] either directly or through our clubs for several years," MLB spokesperson Susan Goodenow told the Associated Press. "Passionate fans express their love of their team in a number of different ways."

To put things another way: Fans already can purchase Arizona Cardinals baby clothes. Urns and caskets are simply the logical next step in a cradle-to-grave progression of team-branded bliss.

With that in mind, Page 2 presents some other products that ought to have a sports marketing tie-in:

Tombstones
Reason to brand: Caskets need accessories.

Fan benefits: Should save Philadelphia Eagles fans a lot of time and hassle the next time Terrell Owens comes to town.

Possible complications: A tombstone big enough to fit all the names on the Oakland Raiders' roster is gonna be awfully heavy.

Airplane Flotation Cushions
Reason to brand: A near-perfect metaphor for being a Chicago Cubs, Washington Redskins or New York Knicks fan. Also, a no-brainer marketing tie-in with "Lost."

Fan benefits: Imprint of favorite team's logo will warm your heart, even as the frigid waters of the North Atlantic deep-freeze what your momma gave you.

Possible complications: Disobeying laws of physics and refuting decades of industrial design, Tampa Bay Devil Rays-branded cushions mysteriously sink like cinder blocks.

Wedding Dresses
Reason to brand: People propose on ballpark Jumbotrons all the time. Talk about an untapped market.

Fan benefits: It's the closest male New England Patriots fans ever will get to marrying Tom Brady. 'Cause deep down, you know they want to.

Possible complications: Any bride willing to wear one of these has serious Anna-Benson-in-the-New-York-clubhouse-with-Mr.Met-and-all-his-ballplayer-friends potential. If you know what we mean.

Adult Toys
Reason to brand: Ease of manufacturing. From mini-bats to battery-powered bobbleheads, current sports tchotchkes can be converted with a minimum of tweaking.

Fan benefits: When ER docs examine your abdominal X-rays, they'll know exactly who you root for!

Possible complications: See above.

Urinal Cakes
Reason to brand: Because until remedial adult potty training catches on, sports fans need something more colorful and obvious to aim at. Really. Ever been to a stadium bathroom? HELLO! THE FLOOR IS NOT THE TARGET!

Fan benefits: Cheap thrill of urinating on cake of least favorite team or athlete. Drip. Jeff Gordon. Giggle.

Possible complications: In the end, you're only giving Duke Basketball even more money. Don't they already make enough from being on ESPN 150 times a year?

Airbags
Reason to brand: Not enough sports/automotive industry advertising already. Which reminds us: Team-branded beer would be a good idea, too.

Fan benefits: The Red Sox actually can save your life!

Possible complications: You're driving in a rental car. Boom! A Yankees airbag saves your life. Now who are you going to root for?

Children's Books
Reason to brand: Katie Couric. Tiki and Ronde Barber. John Gotti. Everyone who's anyone has written one. So how hard can it be?

Fan benefits: Anything to get your kid reading more and playing XBox less. Besides, it's Daddy's turn to play Madden!

Possible complications: Good luck finding words that rhyme with "Stanolozol" and "arraignment."

Bullets
Reason to brand: The Washington Wizards missed a tremendous marketing opportunity. Don't make the same mistake.

Fan benefits: Creates a perfect excuse to pick up that team-branded urn or casket you've been eyeing.

Possible complications: Besides a messy, horrific death? None that we can think of.

Patrick Hruby is a columnist for Page 2. Sound off to Page 2 here.




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