Playing Around

As April Fool’s pranks go it was pretty tame. But if nothing else, it did make for some interesting ads.

At high-profile locations in Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, billboards featuring the Major League Baseball logo were installed upside down on April 1. The red, white and blue ads stayed like that for 24 hours; then they were flipped around.

The goal was to publicize RealNetwork’s new Web service that enables fans to tune into a radio broadcast of any baseball game for a fee of about $4.95 a month.

The Seattle-based company said the “break through” agreement represents “the largest Internet deal in the history of professional sports.”

“We thought it would be a fun thing to do,” said Cara Jacobson of RealNetworks. The billboard concept was created by Santa Monica, Calif., agency HeatSeeking MultiMedia.

“It just happened that April Fool’s Day was the day before the opening day of the baseball season. We wanted to do something to have a little fun,” Jacobson said.

She added that the Webcast will also extend the reach of any ads carried by local broadcasters.