July 16, 2008

Baseball's Ad Campaign Improves

CLOSE TO SEVEN last evening, I was flipping channels waiting for the All-Star Game to begin when I stumbled across a replay of the LSU-Kentucky college football game from last year. Oooooooooooooh, I said to myself, and settled in on the sofa. I couldn't remember who won -- it was Kentucky, in triple overtime -- so it made for a great start to the night sports-wise. Then ...

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

By the time I woke up, it was the end of the second inning and scoreless in New York. The game, I think all can agree, was incredible. Since I have a late start at work today, I was able to stay up and watch all 15 innings. God help me. But God, what a game. The National League's defense -- well, except for Mr Three Errors -- was incredible.

Loyal Rant Readers know I am not a baseball fan, but watching Mariano Rivera emerge to close the top of the ninth was a beautiful thing. And I was rooting for the National League. This is liable to get me in trouble up here in Red Sox Nation, but I don't care. I'm rooting for the Cubs this year.

Of course, this admission of pinkhatism will undoubtedly cause a few frowns among readers, but don't worry: by the time October rolls around, I'll have forgotten all about baseball. Speaking of baseball and October, though, I do have to give credit to Major League Baseball for improving its post-season ad campaign this year. The first ad aired last night -- and unlike last year, it's not the equivalent of a double-play!

I'd rate it as a single. I liked the earnestness of the spot; it was uplifting and enthusiastic, as opposed to last year's snark-infused spots. Major League Baseball loses style points, however, for making the passionate fan a blogger sitting at his desk writing. As much as I like the idea of encouraging people to write, making the blogger the centerpiece of the spots detracts from the sport itself and seems ... well, a sop to the legions of bloggers out there who would otherwise lay into its decisions with furious anger.

All in all, I suppose my issue with the campaign is that -- yet again -- it tries to make baseball seem hip and with it to the young people, without realizing that it has no need to do this. There is no reason why baseball can't make a really, really sharp yet simple commercial focusing on the greatest baseball miracles of all time, with some powerful music and crowd noise for the sound. If you had an actor, he would play third fiddle -- or perhaps even better, you would have no actor at all. Unless, of course, it was an actor who could really carry the weight of such a spot. Because the one baseball-themed commercial I really liked last night wasn't for baseball itself -- it was for Holiday Inn. Philip Baker Hall does serious very well too, you know.

Which gives me an idea: the NFL should immediately figure out how to use Philip Baker Hall in its post-season commercials for the year. That and footage of the Freezer Bowl.

Posted by Benjamin Kepple at July 16, 2008 12:37 PM | TrackBack
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