Monday, November 7, 2016

A Fall Classic

The Cubbies finally won the World Series and now, three days later, the adrenaline is just leaving my body.

I'm not a big baseball guy. If I find myself at a ballpark in April or May, it's usually to enjoy pastoral Chavez Ravine, drink beer and eat $9 hot dogs filled with various unmentionable rat parts. But come late September, October and now early November, and I can identify RISP, name 10 Jewish players currently in the Big Show and correctly spot the difference between a cutter and a slider.

I love the World Series. And though I've only been to Chicago once, on a disgustingly extravagant film shoot (OPM), I love the Windy City. That the Cubbies took home the ultimate prize only made it sweeter.

What made this year's Fall Classic even classic-er, was what happened after the last out was recorded.

I'm sure you saw it. As did 40 million other viewers who were glued to their boob tubes. A 60 second (not 6 second you Vine-aphiles) spot from Nike that captured the joy Midwesterners have been waiting for 108 years.

Like a 101 mile per hour two seam fastball delivered by Aroldis Chapman, the spot was pure perfection. The music. The location. The Harry Caray call. All perfection.

And what was most rewarding was the Truth, intentionally capitalized.

You don't see much Truth in advertising these days. I'm not talking about bait & switch, or weasel words, or sales events that claim to be ending soon but never do. I'm talking about true Truth. Insights into human behavior that can, when used wisely, be used to tug at heartstrings, raise goosebumps and earn some real estate in our collective mindspace.

I think people will be talking about this commercial in the same breath as, "Remember when the Cubbies finally won the World Series."

Here's the thing. That Truth here wasn't unearthed by big data. Nor did it require a 6 week deep dive by the planning department. I guarantee it was something that sprang up when a copywriter and an art director were just shooting the shit and one said...

"When we were kids, my little brother used to throw on his jersey, grab his mitt and bat, run out to the park and play imaginary baseball all by himself. He'd hit the ball, run the bases, and do the color commentary. And he wouldn't come home until the sun set or my mom would be screaming out the window for Dinner."

And the partner replied, "yeah, my sister did that on a basketball court.  We should do something with that."

What I love most about this spot is its simplicity. There are no special effects. The execution is purposefully small. And perhaps most importantly, it's a spot that any maker of sporting goods could put their logo on.

But guess what, simpleminded marketer and killer of all good ideas that artfully employ a category-sell, they didn't.

Nike did. And to victor go the spoils.

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