By Barry Janoff, Executive Editor
April 17, 2011: Is this heaven? No. It's a Pepsi Max commercial.
Field of Dreams, the 1989 film starring Kevin Costner as an Iowa farmer who hears voices, turns a chunk of his corn field into a baseball diamond and gets a visit from baseball legends, will get a Pepsi Max redux for a new commercial breaking this week.
In a takeoff of one of the film's classic lines, Pepsi Max built a commercial and a bevy of baseball Hall of Famers and former greats came. The list of all-time greats in "Clubhouse in the Corn" includes Ozzie Smith, Mike Schmidt, Rollie Fingers, Dennis Eckersley, Carlton Fisk, Rickey Henderson, Lou Pinella, Randy Johnson, and a fleeting glimpse of a faux Babe Ruth, who is signing autographs.
In the spot, they are joined by current stars Evan Longoria, Jim Thome and CC Sabathia, who wanders out of the cornfield and onto a field of dreams.
Sabathia and Longora were among the players featured in a Pepsi TV commercial in 2010 to support Project Refresh. Piniella starred in a commercial for Pepsi's Aquafina water in 2008.
Smith, Schmidt and Fingers appeared at the MLB Fan Cave in New York on April 18 to provide a first look at the commercial. The spot will run on network and cable as well as in-stadium and in-theater. Lead agency is TBWA\Chiat\Day.
As in Field of Dreams, the ball players convene on a baseball field, providing insights into the game, here using Pepsi Max, with humorous banter. Henderson is playing a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Johnson and Eckersley are pitching Pepsi Max bottles into a recycling bin. And when Sabathia asks the Pepsi Max guy where he is, the reply is, "Iowa."
In the movie, Costner also replies, "No, it's Iowa," when he is asked by "Shoeless" Joe Jackson (played by Ray Liotta), "Is this heaven?"
The tone reflects the film's scenes in which the likes of Jackson and other members of the infamous Chicago "Black Sox" come out of Kevin Costner's corn field to play the game from which they were banned. In the movie, they are joined by the likes of Mel Ott, Gil Hodges and "Smokey" Joe Wood.
"Ty Cobb wanted to play, but none of us could stand the son-of-a-bitch when we were alive, so we told him to stick it," Shoeless Joe Jackson explains in the film. Cobb is also absent from the Pepsi Max spot.
According to Pepsi Max, the spot features a roster of players who represent 20 World Series championships, 74 All-Star Game selections, 865 career pitching victories and 2,735 career home runs, including Ruth (714), Thome (590 and counting) and Schmidt (548).
Pepsi Max has been a corporate sponsor of MLB since 1997. It also has official status with 15 MLB clubs, including the Chicago Cubs and White Sox, Oakland A's, New York Mets and Yankees, Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Detroit Tigers, Tampa Bay Rays, Arizona Diamondbacks, Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Seattle Mariners and the Kansas City Royals.
The brand is currently running a sweepstakes offering tickets to attend the 2011 MLB All-Star Game in July at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Pepsi Max is also the official soft drink of the NFL. The brand will activate around the NFL Draft April 28-30.