By Barry Janoff
November 3, 2016: After a drought of 108 years, the marketing floodgates have been opened to celebrate the Chicago Cubs World Series victory.
Nike, Anheuser-Busch, ESPN, American Airlines, Under Armour, Chevrolet, Topps, Red Bull, New Era, Uber and Major League Baseball were among the brands and companies that hit the ground running with activation almost immediately after the Cubs last night/early this morning won their first World Series title since 1908.
Moments after Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant fielded a ground ball off the bat of Cleveland Indians hitter Michael Martinez and threw the ball to first baseman Anthony Rizzo for the final out, Nike, Budweiser and MLB, in that order, were on Fox with commercials that were both congratulatory and self-serving, honoring the Cubs long struggle to win a title while selling their own respective products.
Nike’s spot, “Someday,” shows a young boy in a Cubs uniform playing baseball by himself on a vacant sandlot, hitting, running, fielding and dreaming of playing for the Cubs in a World Series. The spot ends with a crowd cheering and the text, "Goodbye, Someday."
Budweiser dug out a 1984 spot, "Cubs Fan, Bud Man," staring the now-late Harry Caray, the long-time legendary Cubs broadcaster, sitting with fans in Wrigley Field cheering on the team and dreaming of announcing a World Series, which was updated with the text, Chicago Cubs 2016 World Series Champoins.'
The Anhueser-Busch brand also broke a second spot, "Harry Caray's Last Call: Fly The W," in which Caray, via calls pieced together from his broadcasts, have him doing play-by-play for Game 7 and ultimately proclaiming, "The Cubs have won," played out to real images of Cubs fans watching the game and the reacting to the win. It closes with a shot of the Harry Cary statue outside of Wrigley Field, wearing a Cubs jersey, with the text, "Harry, They Did It."
"While Bud and baseball pair well together, nothing and no one is more synonymous with the Chicago Cubs than Harry Caray," Ricardo Marques, vice president for Budweiser, said in a statement. "To help Cubs fans celebrate this historic win, we wanted to bring back the real 'Cubs Fan Bud Man' to deliver the winning announcement he longed to give. We are honored to be part of this special moment."
MLB in its post-game spot, "Wishing Wanting Waiting World Champions," ran through a visual history of the Cubs going back to 1908, featuring such iconic Cubs players as Ernie Banks, Ron Santo and Billy Williams as well as fans, billy goats and black cats, ending with the Cubs celebrating and shots of Cubs World Series gear (found on MLB's online shopping destination via Fanatics), including caps from official partner New Era.
ESPN soon broke its own ode to the Cubs via its "This Is SportsCenter" campaign, "Zero Years Since The Cubs Won The World Series," showing a staffer changing a sign that read, “108 Years Since Chicago Cubs Won World Series” to “0 Years Since Chicago Cubs Won World Series.”
Even as the players and coaches were celebrating, MLB marketing partner Chevrolet presented on-air a 2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS 50th Anniversary Edition to Series MVP Ben Zobrist, which was shown by Fox.
Fox returned to a live shot of the car on the infield of Progressive Stadium a few minutes later when actor and longtime Cubs fan Bill Murray was seen honking the car’s horn as part of his celebration.
"In this historic matchup, Zobrist’s performance on the field truly embodies the same 'never give up' spirit that drives the Chevrolet team to innovate every day . . ." said Paul Edwards, U.S.vp-marketing for Chevrolet. "We are proud to recognize the tremendous efforts of Zobrist with the MVP award and the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro 50th Anniversary Edition convertible."
Topps, the exclusive trading card partner for MLB, said today it has signed Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant "to the largest and most significant exclusive card deal in the company’s baseball history."
The multi-year deal guarantees that autograph cards of Bryant would only be found in future Topps and Bowman products starting with 2017 Topps Baseball Series 1. In addition, Bryant will be featured as the cover athlete for Topps BUNT, the officially licensed MLB Trading Card App, and will appear on the cover of 2017 Topps Baseball Series 1.
"We are beyond excited to secure this exclusive deal with Kris Bryant," David Leiner, vp/GM of North American Sports & Entertainment for Topps, said in a statement. "Never has The Topps Company executed such a long-term deal with any athlete. Kris is one of the elite players currently in Major League Baseball and we look forward to working with him as his career continues to flourish."
Topps, which has been creating limited-edition Cubs Topps Bunt cards throughout the playoffs, today also unveiled a World Series Cubs championship card, with more to follow.
Overall, MLB and Fox said that more than 30 companies were part of the World Series broadcast, including MLB marketing partners Anheuser-Busch, Pepsi, Taco Bell (“Steal a Base, Steal a Taco”), Nike, Starwood Hotels, Bank of America, Esurance and T-Mobile.
Nike, adidas and State Farm were among the companies with OOH creative in and around Chicago.
State Farm has been running outdoor with Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta, playing off the brand’s Jake From State Farm marketing theme. Adidas ads featured its Cubs playoff tag, "#$@& Curses."
Toyota, a Cubs legacy partner that has had its its name on the front marquee sign at Wrigley Field on the corner of Addison and Clark, is now getting a lot of national attention with the words, "World Series Champions" added to "Wrigley Field Home of the Chicago Cubs."
Fanatics and Uber are working together today to deliver Cubs World Series T-shirts and hats in and around Chicago, beginning 10 AM local time. Uber said it would have 30 vehicles on-call, with some packages arriving in-person by former Cubs All-Star Andre Dawson; Fanatics said the process would continue until merchandise runs out.
The two companies partnered back in September to deliver Los Angeles Rams gear to consumers before the team’s first opening game in L.A. since 1994.
Among other Cubs marketing partners, American Airlines, the team's official airline, has been putting white rally towels with the team’s quintessential “W” on them on seatbacks on some flights out of Chicago. After the Series win, the carrier took over part of O’Hare International Airport with “W” visuals and also placed a congratulations image with text on its online booking home page.
Likewise, team legacy partner Under Armour put on its home page a photo of Arrieta with the text, "The Curse Ends. the Celebration Begins. Congratulations to the Chicago Cubs. 2016 World Champions."
Samsung hit the Cubs Web site and social media with a Virtual Reality 360 90-second video shot inside the team’s locker room during the post-Series celebration.
Olivet Nazarene University, the team’s official education partner, will utilize the services of spokesman and Series MVP Zobrist, a native of Illinois who graduated from the Christian college,
Adidas today feted spokesperson Bryant with a congratulations splash on its home page, with text under the “#$@& Curses” line that read, “Congratulations 2016 World Series Champion Kris Bryant.”
On its baseball site, adidas ran another image showing Bryant with his arm raised in celebration next to the text, “Curse Breaker.”
Bryant marketing partner Express Men also had a congratulatory ad on its home page: “Two Words: Cubs Win. Where were you when history was made? Thanks for an incredible season, Kris Bryant.”
And Red Bull, which also lists Bryant as an endorser, posted two creative pieces to its Red Bull TV Web site and social media. One is a 30-second spot depicting the "special relationship" Bryant had with The Goat when Bryant was in the Minor Leagues. "Feeding him. Walking him. Talking baseball. When Kris was called up to the Big Leagues, The Goat asked if he could come. Unlike in 1945, Kris would not say NO to The Goat. Congratulations on embracing history."
The second is an eight-second animated clip of Bryant, pictured with his Red Bull wings, holding the product, flying over other players and reconnecting with The Goat. Text offers, "It was worth the wait. Red Bull gives you wings."
Elsewhere, Steiner Sports on its Web site congratulated the team and displayed a bevy of Cubs’ related autographed and other items.
After Rizzo caught the ball thrown by Bryant for the last out, he immediately put it into his back pocket, as he had done with the last out ball when the Cubs won the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
That evoked images of a spot released at the start of the season by MLB under its THIS umbrella campaign in which Rizzo and Bryant formed the faux Bryzzo Souvenir Company, selling baseballs authenticated by “our bats.”
Rizzo said he has been giving the real series-ending baseballs to his brother for safe keeping, with their future to be determined.
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