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Baseball and Advertising: Not So Different

Here on June 15 we are deep into baseball season. The weather is warm for good now, the days are at their longest, and being at the ballpark or playing on the ball field just seems right. Baseball is known as America’s Pastime, and whether you like the sport or not, there is no question that baseball terminology has been sewn into the fabric of the English language.

Think about it. When you do an amazing job, you’ve “hit a home run.” When something unexpected happens, you’ve been “thrown a curveball.” When you’re in trouble, you’re usually told how many “strikes” you have left. Try to go a whole day without hearing a baseball term spoken and you’ll probably be unsuccessful. So it shouldn’t be that much of a stretch to relate a trip around the diamond to a successful advertising campaign.


15-year-old Frankie sighting! Top row, second from the right. Open your eyes, dummy!

It all starts with the pitch. To totally confuse you, don’t think of the pitcher’s pitch as the advertising pitch. The pitcher’s pitch is a potential Client. Most people think there is nothing to a pitcher throwing a batter the ball, but a lot of strategy goes into it depending on the count. So as the ball is hurled toward the batter (aka the agency) we must identify how it is coming towards us. Now, the swing is our pitch. You can either hit the ball out of the park, or totally whiff (still with me? Sorry for making this so complicated).

In this case, let’s say we’ve hit a single. It’s a solid line drive to left field. Brand Development has landed the Client and we are now standing on first base. Typically, one of the first things a runner does once he gets to first base is look at the third base coach for the sign – communication. Corporate Communications announces what is happening and where we will be going from here. In our game, we are going to steal second base – on the first pitch!

After giving a look over, the pitcher commits to the plate and we take off. The catcher has a good arm, but we narrowly slide in under the tag of the shortstop. The uniform is dirty, but we are in there. When a runner is on second base he is in “scoring position.” That means with just a single from the current batter the runner should be able to score. This is where Client Services takes over. Make the Client nice and comfortable so that just one more play can mean a run.

But oh no! The batter grounded out to the second baseman. Still, that’s not the worst thing in the world. If anything, it’s good teamwork, because it has allowed you to move to third base – design and development. Now we’re bringing it home. If all goes well, we will be putting a good product out there, keeping the Client happy and getting us…

HOME! Results. It’s what both the Client and the agency are looking for when they step up to the plate. There is one objective in baseball – score runs. In advertising the objective is to yield positive results, and thanks to a sacrifice fly to the right fielder, we are dashing to the plate.

High fives are spread all around. Not only did we accomplish what we set out to do, but we did it as a team with each person playing a vital role in scoring the run.

So the next time you set out on a campaign, think of it as a game. Every play and base directly affecting the one that came before it.


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