As Opening Day approaches the MLB hype train is chugging along at top speed trying to entice fans old and new alike to tune in and watch the boys of summer do their thing. The baseball season is a long haul at seven months, and the gruelling 162 game schedule can be a bit daunting for the uninitiated.
That’s where this new MLB promo video comes in. “Watch us play” it suggests. “Come spend some time with these charming fellows who happen to do superhuman things on the field.”
No, there are no Tigers to be found here, sorry. There was no blink-and-you-missed-it shot of Miguel Cabrera. No adoring slow mo video of Justin Verlander. That’s okay. It does something more important: it acknowledges star power.
There’s no secret that MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred wants to appeal to a new, young audience. In the immortal words of Bryce Harper, he wants to make baseball fun again. There’s a sense he’s almost desperate to get a new generation of fans hyped about the game, and has been willing to do just about anything — including some heavily maligned rule changes — in order to secure that audience.
What the MLB has missed taking advantage of in their advertising, and what the above video does so beautifully, is that it puts faces to names.
“Here’s Clayton Kershaw, he pitches so fast a radar gun can’t handle it.”
“This is Mookie Betts. Michael B. Jordan should play him in a movie.”
“Guys, did you know that Giancarlo Stanton is very handsome and can hit baseballs to the moon? You do now!”
Branding and marketing are things the MLB has struggled with, things any blogger with an Instagram account knows are important. With stars like Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, Miguel Cabrera, and Kris Bryant in the active rosters it’s a crying shame not to take advantage of their charisma and presence. Miguel Cabrera is a Triple Crown winner, his face should be as famous as Wayne Gretzky’s. Bryce Harper has the skill and the charm to be a brand icon. He should be as recognizable as Tom Brady.
Baseball needs to acknowledge the appeal of stars. It needs to take advantage of them and make sure everyone knows who these guys are at a glance. It makes them easier to cheer for, makes the games more accessible to new fans than simply watching amazing plays on a highlight reel (though that kind of promotion has its place as well, and shouldn’t be discounted).
The bottom line is, the MLB is making huge strides with this new ad. It’s showing that it understands how to promote individuals in order to promote the overall product.
One small request, though: next time include the greatest hitter playing the game today.