Budweiser Rooftop Restored Outside Wrigley Field

Budweiser is back. For now.

After having tarped over the famous Budwesier rooftop billboard behind Wrigley Field's left field wall, crews were out removing the "putrid brown colored, tarp-like material" yesterday after the Cubs blowout loss to Jim Edmonds's team. The owner, Tom Gramatis, paid $8.35 million for the building in June.

Anheuser-Busch has had an ad up on the roof for "decades" with only a brief interlude by Sapporo, of all companies. A-B is supposed to be paying $347,287.50 this year for the rights to advertise on the roof. Per Gramatis, not only is this number well below market value for the ad space, but A-B failed to pay him on time. (I guess Belgian companies don't understand due dates?). After missing the latest quarterly payment, Gramatis had his lawyers send a 5 day notice to A-B demanding payment within that time. A-B failed to make payments and Gramatis attempted to terminate the lease agreement and publicly opened the space up to the highest bidder. Talk about a dickhead landlord.

It's pretty clear what's going on here, right? Gramatis drops a ton of cash on this building. Maybe he's not making as much scratch as he thought he would be. He thinks the lease with A-B is shitty, so he looks for any opportunity he can to try and weasel out of it. A-B makes one late payment and he tries to jump. Smelling an opportunity with bigtime TV exposure this year with the Cubs going into the playoffs and, hopefully deep into them, Gramatis gets itchy and severley underestimates A-B's own marketing team and their ability to analyze the worth of that billboard in the coming months. Guess what...A-B files for a temporary restraining order. A-B is a huge company with a shit ton of lawyers. Gramatis, like all of us, is only one man. A-B wins every time. It's called "justice."

The Judge Martin S. Agran granted A-B's request for the restraining order Friday afternoon, stating that not enough notice was given to A-B to terminate the lease. I agree with his assesment. But the judge, a Sox fan, couldn't resist taking a few shots:
"With any luck, I'll see the sign when the White Sox play the Cubs in the World Series," Agran said.

Before Agran made his ruling, he took a shot at Cubs fans -- questioning why they'd be looking at a billboard anyway. "You mean they're not watching the game?" he asked. "Isn't that what most Cub fans do, stare away?"
That's about the level of professionalism I'd expect from a Sox fan. No word on whether Judge Agran was wearing his robe on the bench or rocked it shirtless with tight black jeans, huge white sneaks, tats, and mullet.

I see where Gramatis is coming from here, I suppose. Gots to gets paid, right? Gotta get dat pape-uh. Things like that. But I'm also very into tradition. And this Budweiser rooftop is one of the landmarks of Wrigley Field. I understand that from a business perspective it doesn't make sense to renew the Budweiser lease after its expiration if he can get more money from another company. But don't try and weasel your way out from the under a legit lease like an asshole.

And if you're going to lease it to another company at the end of this lease term, how about throwing in some stipulations about the "look" the advertisement must take. Doing this would preserve the landmark building's "feel" and effect on the Wrigley Field atmosphere. Don't do shit like this: "People will say, 'Wow. It's Viagra,' or whatever it is," Gramatis said." Yeah...wow. C'mon dude.

But let's not let A-B off the hook here. A-B-you've got a highly noticeable unique advertisement at a drastically reduced cost (compare a 30 second Super Bowl TV spot-what's that, like $2 million these days?, to the year-round TV exposure and "landmark status" this particular ad has acheived for a mere $300k/year.) Just pay the man. You've already pissed off pretty much all of America by selling out to Belgian company InBev. Is this really the sort of PR you're looking for right now?

Maybe Gramatis got a bit greedy here, Sam Zell style. Maybe A-B took advantage of the situation. Maybe they're all assholes. But c'mon guys. Keep the Budweiser ad up until the end of the year without interruption. Then, whatever happens, just don't eff up Wrigley Field by throwing up some gaudy ass purple Viagra or Cialis ad or something. Respect Wrigley. Do the right thing.

Oh...and the magic number is ONE!!!

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