This week, a statue of the great Roberto Clemente was unveiled in the Morris Heights section of the Bronx. The statue will now be a permanent fixture of Roberto Clemente State Park. Without a doubt, it was a proud day for the millions of people who have always loved and admired the Puerto Rican baseball legend and humanitarian. Clemente will forever be one of the greatest… even if his statue was sponsored by GOYA.
Listen, we get the fact that projects like these need corporate money, but you would think that such an amazing statue wouldn’t have allowed the GOYA logo to be one of the largest visual elements of the statue? The statue’s impact and power gets lost once your eyes roll down to the GOYA logo. Ugh.
The reason behing the GOYA partnership is truly admirable and authentic, as The New York Times’ David Gonzalez wrote in his excellente piece about the statue:
The project was put on hold – until Rafael Toro visited the park for a domino tournament two years ago. Clemente held a special place in his heart. As a child, Mr. Toro once met the man, still marveling decades later how the athlete’s hand engulfed his, and how his short lifetime of superlatives inspired him.
“I looked around and thought there was something missing here,” said Mr. Toro, who is director of public relations for Goya Foods, the tournament’s sponsor. “I saw a picture of him on a wall, but was that all? I asked Frances ‘Is there a statue?’ She told me no, there’s a lack of resources.”
The thought nagged at him every time he drove past the park on his way to Goya’s New Jersey offices.
“Then I thought, why don’t we do something?” he said. “It’s a no-brainer.”
Clemente had done Goya-sponsored baseball clinics in Puerto Rico. Cristobal Colon – Clemente’s close friend and the man who drove him to the airport the night he died – had been a Goya executive in Puerto Rico.
“Also, there’s no statue of a Puerto Rican in New York City,” Mr. Toro said. “And our president is a big baseball fan.”
He met with the president, Bob Unanue, and other executives. Although Mr. Toro had a list of 10 reasons the company should underwrite the statue, it was a quick meeting.
“He had us at ‘What do you think?’” Mr. Unanue said. “And I said yes.”
We totally think that what Toro did was done with the best of intentions, but did the statue have to become an advertisement for GOYA as well? Some things are better left untouched, and this is one of those cases. GOYA is, was, and always will a brand icon of the New York City Latino community. GOYA’s familiarity to NYC Latinos is on the same level as milk or water or oxygen. Did it really need to make its logo one of the most prominent parts of the statue? Does everything we do in the community have to be so commercialized? Did people not get the memo from the Puerto Rican Day Parade?
In the end, it’s just tacky. Keep the statue. Drop the logo.