MEMPHIS, TN: Manu Ginobili announced on Monday that he is retiring, but the NBA champion has already received what will likely be his oddest post-pro sports job offer: bat removal technician.
On Wednesday via Twitter, Terminix offered the part-time job to the now-former player, famous for a career that included three NBA championship wins.
The pest control company tweeted an image of a letter, complete with official Terminix letterhead, asking Ginobili to join its brand in San Antonio. The letter was signed by Terminix region director Russ Garceau.
"We think you'd excel in exclusion services, given your prior experience with flying pests like bats as demonstrated during your game against Sacramento in 2009," wrote Garceau.
Terminix didn’t just pull the idea out of thin air — Ginobili actually has bat removal experience. In 2009, during a game between the San Antonio Spurs and the Sacramento Kings, a bat got into the arena and swirled around the players until Ginobili swatted it down with one hand.
The incident turned Ginobili’s retirement into kismet gold for Terminix because it occurred during exclusion season, something Ginobili will learn about if he accepts the offer and goes through pest control technician training.
"It’s the beginning of the Terminix exclusion season," said Tiffany Matthews, director of communications at Terminix. "That’s when we help prevent mice, rats, and bats from physically entering buildings."
After summer ends, she explained, temperatures drop and the outdoor critters head for warmer environments.
Olson Engage supported Terminix with this effort. Terminix has strong ties to the sports world, so Olson Engage monitors sports culture, looking for opportunities to include the brand in the ongoing pop culture conversation, explained George Fiddler, creative director at Olson Engage.
"We try to keep a finger on the pulse of sports culture at all times," he said. "For Terminix in particular we do that because they support a number of sports franchises throughout the country. And once [Ginobili’s retirement] took off in social media, it aligned perfectly with the objective of promoting the exclusion season."
So far, the campaign has consisted of just the two tweets, along with media outreach.
"We’re definitely still counting up all the hits and impressions," said Steve Peckham, GM and SVP at Olson Engage. "But I’m thrilled to see dozens of stories and hundreds of tweets."
This isn’t the first time Olson Engage has included an NBA event in a Terminix campaign. In 2006, NBA player Kyrie Irving said he missed a game because he was up the night before dealing with bed bugs. His team lost and Terminix offered to go on the road with Irving to prevent future bed bug-caused losses.
Ginobili’s job offer is real and still stands, said Matthews. He can start as soon as he finishes training.
She noted that Terminix technicians do not slap bats out of the air, and for good reason. Bats often carry rabies. In 2009, authorities lost track of Ginobili’s bat, and he had to be treated for the disease in case it was infected.
Matthews said Terminix would consider extending a Ginobili-style offer to other retiring pro athletes, if the opportunity came up.
Former MLB players could earn a few extra dollars catching flies and former football players could supplement their NFL pensions by flea flicking on weekends.
"It would definitely be up for consideration," she said. "We’d just have to make sure the right people are in the room and we could make it happen."