By Barry Janoff
April 6, 2015: It's been a long time since Oct. 29, 2014, when a pitch thrown by Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants was popped up by Salvador Pérez of the Kansas City Royals and caught in foul territory by Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval — his last act on the field with the team before joining the Boston Red Sox as a free agent — to give the Giants their third MLB World Series title in five seasons.
But a winter in which Boston and the surrounding area endured a record 110-plus inches of snow and Cleveland experienced the city's coldest February on record, with ten days where the temperature was below zero and a three-week period when it did not rise above 32 degrees, is over.
But now it's spring and new season is starting. And as the late Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle put it, "Nothing's ever been as fun as baseball."
Like players and fans, MLB partners have anxiously been awaiting the start of the 2015 campaign.
All the players on MLB's marketing roster are activating to various degrees. Among them, Church & Dwight brands Arm & Hammer and OxiClean are official presenting sponsors of Opening Week, getting national exposure on activations that include a "Cover the Bases" instant win game offering such prizes as gift cards for memorabilia from Steiner Sports, tickets and MLB licensed products. (Details here.)
DraftKings, which just renewed and enhanced its MLB alliance, will launch marketing that includes all teams and will see activation across all MLB media properties.
Domino's will again give away 20,000 pizzas after each of the first two no-hitters during the 2015 MLB regular season. Chances are good it will happen In 2014, five no-hitters were thrown — one in May and two each in June and September. The last season without a no-hitter was 2005. (Details here.)
Topps is rolling out the next generation of BUNT, the officially licensed MLB digital trading card app. Topps BUNT 2015 is now available for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, as well as Android devices in the App Store and Google Play Store.
T-Mobile is getting the word out early about the 2015 MLB All-Star Game in Cincinnati's Great American Ball Park, including the T-Mobile All-Star FanFest.
MLB itself is launching in support of Opening Week several campaigns, including an umbrella-themed "THIS (Is Baseball)," from lead agency Anomaly, NY. A master spot (pictured left) is narrated by Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who offers, "These are the best 750 baseball players in the world. The game is being played better than it ever has. These are the good old days."
Several breakouts featuring individual players and managers will appear this week and more will be added throughout the season. The initial batch includes "Mike Trout And His Fans" (Los Angeles Angels), "David Price Is Playing For Fans" (Detroit Tigers) and "Meet Joe Madden" (manager for the Chicago Cubs).
The content will be seen on TV, online, distributed through social media and available on MLB.com/THIS.
MLB also asking fans to tweet their own THIS moments using the #THIS hash tag.
A separate effort, "MLB Field of Dreams," handled in-house by MLB, uses clips from the 1989 movie with Kevin Costner interspersed with shots of current players reciting James Earl Jones’ famous “People Will Come” soliloquy.
The cast includes Trout, Dustin Pedroia, Felix Hernandez and Adam Jones. "People will come, Ray. They’ll come to Iowa for reasons they can’t even fathom. They’ll turn into your driveway, not knowing for sure why they’re doing it. They’ll arrive at your door, as innocent as children, longing for the past . . . This field, this game, is a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good, and that could be again. Oh people will come, Ray. People will most definitely come."
Trout, the 2014 American League MVP, already is out-front for the Opening Week MVP (Most Valuable Pitchman). In addition to his MLB spots, he stars in a new ad from Subway, 'Documentary," in which he offers that ever since his days in Little League he has always gone to Subway for his favorite sandwich: Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki with all white meat, Pepper Jack Cheese, Banana Peppers and lots of Jalapeños.
A major MLB Hispanic multi-layer effort, from LatinWorks, speaks to the growing Hispanic player and fan base, "Estamos Haciendo Historia Aqui" ("We Are Making History Here"). It shows clips of iconic MLB players such as Roberto Clemente and action with current stars of Hispanic descent.
MLB Network is activating its own campaign, including a spot, "Historic Monuments," which re-imagines as Mount Rushmore-type immortals the likes of Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente, Johnny Bench, Rickey Henderson and Derek Jeter.
Sony Computer Entertainment's Playstation is out in force promoting MLB 15 The Show, with Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers on the cover and a campaign for the video game anchored by a TV spot, "Summer Wind."
Each of MLB's clubs also is launching marketing to target their respective fan bases both regionally and nationally.
The defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants plan to carry the emotions from last season to this with "One Giant Moment."
The Dodgers evoke the history of their franchise pitching in a TV spot which boasts that no team has more Cy Young award winners, including three-time winner Clayton Kershaw (2011, 2013, 2014), Sandy Koufax (3x), Fernando Valenzuela, Mike Marshall, Eric Gagne, Orel Hershiser, Don Drysdale, and Don Newcombe, supporting the team's season-long Cy Young pin promotion.
A separate "Time For Dodgers Baseball We Love" spot focuses on the 2015 season and its players and in-stadium promotions.
The Oakland A's have series of humorous spots, including "Emoji T-Shirts," in which the signs used by first- and third-base coaches turn into emojis; and "#Winning," in which pitcher Sean Doolitte works hard to teach social media techniques to his coaches and manager.
The Seattle Mariners put their stars front-and-center in humorous spots that include "Bat Control" (with Robinson Cano) and "Intensely Intense" (with Felix Hernandez).
Among the Minnesota Twins commercials is one with pitcher Phil Hughes, an über Star Wars fan, to support the team's Star Wars Promo Night May 4 in Target Field, "Hughes The Force" (aka "Hughes the Fourth").
And when it comes to reaching out to a diverse fan base, some players on the Boston Red Sox speak Spanish very well and some need "Spanish Lessons."