HDC Confronts a Major League Revival in Miami

A strong creative pitch secured HDC’s win of the Florida Marlins’ estimated $2-3 million advertising account, the client confirmed.

The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., agency (formerly Harris Drury Cohen) outperformed review co-finalists Imagen and RBB, both in Miami.

“When it got down to the final three, we liked the angles [HDC] took to revive our brand,” said P.J. Loyello, Marlins’ vice president of communications and broadcasting. “It was solid.”

The agency and client will begin work immediately to convince South Florida baseball fans that the team, with its recent ownership and roster changes, is committed to staying in Miami. The fans, according to HDC chief executive officer Michael Goldberg, are confused and resentful.

“From a fan standpoint, the Marlins have seen better days,” said Goldberg. “There’s no tradition built up thatcan transcend wins and losses.”

According to Goldberg, it is time to woo the public. “The question is how do you create a love affair between fans and the team,” said Goldberg. “In order to form a relationship, you have to give.”

Sometimes, said Goldberg, it’s as simple as making the players more accessible to the fans. “Ads and marketing will not replace a win or a streak of losses,” he said, “but fans go for the experience. Sometimes it’s a player throwing a foul ball into the stands or a mascot rubbing a kid’s head.”

HDC is working on a television and print campaign for the 2003 season that will break in late January.

The independent shop will also extend its relationship metaphor when developing promotional ideas for season-ticket plans. “We’ll put together packages with lower [ticket] commitments,” said Goldberg.

For example, families can purchase a season of Sunday afternoon games, singles can opt for Saturday night contests, or fans can buy flexible seating plans. The latter allows ticket holders to bring one person to many games or a crowd to a single game. Other marketing efforts will target Miami’s Hispanic and senior populations.