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With Some PR Help, World Series Congratulatory Ad Could Have Been So Much More

The San Francisco Chronicle last week ran a full page ad from the Oakland Athletics congratulating the San Francisco Giants for winning the World Series. The ad itself will either be seen as a classy gesture, or (to diehard A’s fans) as perhaps a tad insulting. (The teams are rivals after all.)

Looking at this ad through a PR perspective, one cannot help but think that the team could have gotten so much more for its money. Admittedly, the simplicity of the ad is quite striking. However, notice that there is no call to action anywhere. No phone number to call, website to visit, Twitter to follow or Facebook to fan. Just a logo. It almost seems that someone had been watching Mad Men and seen Don’s famous tobacco proclamation.

There is an inherent risk to truly direct and clean advertising. In order to undertake such a project, you have to have such faith in your brand recognition that you do not feel the need to tell anyone who you are. (Picture the Nike swoosh.) The fact of the matter is that most of us are not Nike or, for that matter, the Oakland A’s. This means that for virtually every company, the utility of these types of ads is negligible. (A true story here is that a law firm in Philadelphia ran an ad in Sports Illustrated that contained just the firm name, a picture, a tagline and a phone number. Needless to say, hindsight being 20/20 they would never have run it. It proved expensive and ineffective.)

Advertising is not an inexpensive proposition. To take out a full page ad in a major magazine or a newspaper entails significant cost. When thinking about doing an ad, you should really call together your PR professionals, your marketers and your ad agency/graphic designers. Advertisements should never be created in a bubble. Each piece of a firm’s business development and strategy needs to touch on the same key points. Meeting with the company’s entire team will help reinforce the core messages and also likely produce a more impactful ad.

Let’s examine what a meeting at the A’s might have looked like if they had taken this approach:

  • PR Objectives: Congratulate the cross-Bay team; Build community goodwill; Connect with fans
  • Marketing Objectives: Build brand, Increase season ticket sales, Increase merchandise sales
  • Ad Agency: Achieve cohesion between previous campaigns; Produce an ad that provokes dialogue.

So, how did they do? Well I would give them a C+.

They did congratulate the community and build goodwill, but they failed to give fans any reason to engage the organization. The A’s are one of the most successful franchises in the Bay Area (in terms of Championships) and yet there is no mention of this. There is also no way to learn more about the organization for those that are curious. It is basically a giant greeting card.  Besides a minimal amount of brand building, this ad fails miserably from a marketing objective.

Remember, what works on TV shows rarely works in real life, and you should never waste an opportunity to effectively market yourself and grow sales.

Michael Bond

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