Ahh, America’s favorite pastime. Hot dogs, peanuts, jerseys, and Big League Chew. We have all heard the call at the stadium – “Beer here.”  Major League Baseball commands attention, defining summer for sports fans and inflaming longstanding hometown rivalries.  I live in New York City, though I was raised outside Boston.  Talk about a rivalry – the Yankees and Red Sox – though not a good year for the BoSox this year.  Every home run, broken bat and strikeout adds up to the biggest baseball event of the year: the World Series.

The World Series is one of the key tent pole events of the advertising year.  It is important to big brands and advertisers.  Sports is a great way to reach a key male demographic; so for car companies, beer, snack food, soft drink, and other brands, the World Series is one of the championship venues in which they need to play. This is true not only for national advertisers, but local advertisers as well.  So you might see a major automotive company in the national network television spots and local dealer association advertising in the local spots for a market.  If you are thirsty, hungry, need a deodorant, a new shaver, or a new car – watch the World Series.

The Way I See It

  • I see the best of athletic competition bringing new thrills and touching childhood memories.  I see television advertising at its best touching a key advertising demographic.
  • I see the smart use of online, mobile, and social media by MLB to keep consumers in touch who are not in front of the television, giving advertisers multiple platforms to reach their audience.
  • I see athletes competing and I look for the next breakout star shaving, eating cereal or promoting the features of a new car.

The Way the Industry Sees It

To learn more about baseball’s biggest matchup and what it means to the advertising industry, I sat down with Jacqueline Parkes, the first-ever Chief Marketing Officer of Major League Baseball.  She answered some of my biggest questions about the World Series for advertisers.

[Since the World Series is a competition that lasts anywhere from 4 to 7 games, does MLB view this as a competitive advantage in terms of marketing value over some other sports championship competition that may be only be one game?

Every event is different and presents its own unique opportunities.  The World Series has stood the test of time to consistently stand as one of the jewel events of the television calendar.  From an advertising standpoint, our partners at FOX routinely sell out of all inventory.  We all focus primarily on the first four games since we know they will definitely take place – as MLB did this year by dedicating each of the first four games to an important community initiative (Stand Up To Cancer, Welcome Back Veterans, youth charities and Habitat for Humanity) – and then if and when games 5, 6 and 7 take place we all move quickly to activate around them.  We feel it is very important to leverage our largest promotional platform, the World Series, to build awareness for charities that help drive our communities.

How important are historic or geographic rivalries to baseball and the World Series?  Do they factor into marketing the MLB?

Certain matchups between teams with a long history can sometimes help bring in more viewers at the start of a World Series, but it’s been proven time and time again that in the end, the drama on the field will bring in the viewers regardless of who’s playing.  In 2011, the Cardinals and Rangers came into the World Series having never faced each other, and yet the seventh game of that epic World Series was the most-watched baseball game since the Red Sox ended their 86-year drought in 2004.

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