By Barry Janoff
October 12, 2013: Miguel Cabrera, who last year won the first MLB Triple Crown in 45 years and this year has helped to guide the Detroit Tigers to the team's third consecutive American League Championship Series, has a starring role in a new anthem spot from Chrysler, "Road to Greatness."
The commercial alludes to 'hardships" that Cabrera has faced in reaching the top of the baseball ladder. Although unsaid, Cabrera's off-field transgressions include documented issues involving alcohol, the police and domestic violence, all since seemingly resolved.
"Road to Greatness" will air during both the American League Championship Series (on Fox) and National League Championship Series (on TBS), as well as the World Series (on Fox).
Cabrera and the Tigers are playing the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS; the Los Angeles Dodgers are facing the St. Louis Cardinals in the NLCS.
"In the new advertising, Cabrera reminds viewers that even if you're heralded as the best pure hitter of your generation, you can never be complacent in your pursuit of perfection," Olivier Francois, CMO for Chrysler Group, said in a statement.
According to the automaker, "Road to Greatness" is a "continuation of the narrative around Detroit and its hometown heroes, who have always been a catalyst for change and had a profound impact on American culture."
Celebrities with close ties to Detroit who were in previous Chrysler ads include Ndamukong Suh of the NFL's Detroit Lions, fashion designer John Varvatos and music icon Iggy Pop.
The Cabrera spot, which spotlights the Chrysler 300 and Town & Country, continues the tagline, "Imported From Detroit." Chrysler is supporting with Internet and social media, including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, the latter with the hash tag, #NoShortCuts. Lead agency is Doner, Detroit.
The commercial features shots of Little Leaguers interspersed with those of Cabrera in an exercise room, taking batting practice and ultimately interacting with and encouraging young ballplayers.
Explained Chrysler, "The commercial illustrates the journey youth baseball players must take if they aspire to greatness on the field, by paralleling Cabrera's hard work and dedication as he hones his craft."
As the photos play out, a voiceover says, "No matter where we come from or when we begin, the road to greatness is the same for everyone. No rest stops. No fast lanes. And definitely no shortcuts. It's a road paved with hardship. And crafted by hard work. That is how true greatness is made. Whether you're working to become the game's greatest player or working to make the world's greatest cars, to us, that's the only road worth taking." (See the full spot here.)
At one point in the commercial we see a newspaper clipping and photo from 1961 with the headline, "61: Roger Does It," recalling the 61 home runs hit that year by Roger Maris of the New York Yankees, which broke the mark of 60 homers by Babe Ruth in 1927.
Although the single-season MLB total has since been surpassed by Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds, 61 remains an American League record that some observers believe could be within Cabrera's reach.
"Cabrera reminds viewers that even if you're heralded as the best pure hitter of your generation, you can never be complacent in your pursuit of perfection."
Cabrera hit a career-high 44 homers last season and matched that mark in 2013. Hank Greenberg holds the Tigers single-season home run mark with 58 (in 1932).
Cabrera won the AL Triple Crown in 2012 with a .330 average, 44 home runs and 139 RBI, becoming the first MLB player to achieve the feat since Carl Yastrzemski of the Boston Red Sox in 1967.
He followed up his 2012 AL MVP and Triple Crown season with a 2013 campaign in which he finished first in the AL in batting (.314), and second in home runs (44) and RBI (137) behind Chris Davis (52 and 138, respectively) of the Baltimore Orioles.
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