Marlins hire RBB for effort to win back fans

MIAMI: The Florida Marlins have hired a Miami-based PR firm, RBB Public Relations, to refurbish its image with South Florida baseball fans.

MIAMI: The Florida Marlins have hired a Miami-based PR firm, RBB Public Relations, to refurbish its image with South Florida baseball fans.

The decision to hire the firm was made by new owner Jeffery Loria, who has also hired an advertising agency.

"We are going to be part of a rebranding and rebuilding process," said RBB's CEO Christine Barney.

"It's a team effort with the new owners and a new ad agency."

The firm and team appear determined to wipe the slate clean with the Marlins' disenchanted fan base.

The team has enjoyed an up- and-down relationship with its fans since the its 1993 inception.

After entering the league via a two-team expansion, the Marlins enjoyed a relatively meteoric rise to the top, winning the World Series in 1997, just its fourth season in the league.

Nevertheless, shortly after that victory, then-owner Wayne Huizenga announced that the team's payroll was unsustainably high, and would need to be substantially cut in order for the team to remain financially viable. That announcement kicked off a virtual fire sale that gutted the team of nearly all of its best players.

Since its 1997 championship, the team has experienced five consecutive losing seasons and two ownership changes. Huizenga subsequently sold the team to financier John Henry, who after failing to secure a new stadium for the Marlins, abandoned the team to lead a group that purchased the Boston Red Sox late last year.

Loria, who had been the owner of the Montreal Expos, was given a controlling interest in the Marlins after he handed over control of his troubled Canadian franchise to Major League Baseball.

RBB said Loria and the Marlins are now committed to rehabbing the team's image, and is looking to outside counsel for some help.

"Our mission is to make fans fall in love with the Florida Marlins again," said Barney. "We have several ideas for re-igniting Marlins fever in the marketplace."

RBB won the account through an RFP that the team put out earlier this year.

The firm said it plans to work closely with the team's new ad agency, HDC, which will help unveil the team's new logo. It also said it plans to make its communications with the fans more "frequent and visual."

Nevertheless, RBB said it realizes that rebuilding the Marlins' damaged brand will be no small task.

"After the team was dismantled following its World Series victory, there was a tremendous fan backlash," said Barney. "And after the subsequent ownership changes, the fans of Miami had really almost given up on baseball in this area. Now it's our job to help fans forget the past."

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