BBDO Atlanta launched a pro-bono campaign for Baseball for All, an organization dedicated to promoting girls involvement in baseball, just in time for the opening of the World Series last night.
The campaign is centered around a 60-second spot called “Ready to Play,” which utilizes a spoken-word rendition of John Fogerty‘s 1985 hit “Centerfield.” The lyrics of the song are spoken by girls competing at one of Baseball for All’s tournaments, the implication being that they’re eager to be given the same opportunities to play the game as their male counterparts. It’s a simple but effective approach, as the lines to a song most will be instantly familiar with are given new emotional weight in context.
“The idea is to go after coaches specifically with this campaign, because that’s where the drop-off happens,” BBDO Atlanta CCO Robin Fitzgerald told AdFreak. “Around junior high, girls are diverted to softball and are seen as a ‘wasted’ draft pick by many coaches in little league. I wanted to show that girls genuinely do have passion to play baseball, and that coaches have the power to make a real impact in these players’ lives.”
The spot is running on donated media including ESPNW.com, but BBDO Atlanta and Baseball for All hope are hoping for more high profile platforms to showcase the message, including on Jumbotron screens at Wrigley Field in Chicago and Progressive Field in Cleveland during the World Series and during broadcasts of the games.
The campaign is timely, not just because of the World Series but also for coming in the wake of the debut of Fox’s Pitch, a series about the first woman to pitch in the MLB.
“People want to talk baseball this week. And we want to give them something new to add to the conversation,” Fitzgerald said. “But it’s also important to show how passionate these girls are about baseball…Seeing real girls playing the game they love was the best way to prove that girls want and need baseball just as much as boys.”
Baseball for All founder Justine Siegal (who also became the first woman to coach for a men’s professional team with the Oakland A’s Fall Instructional League) believes the premise of Fox’s Pitch could become a reality if girls are given the same opportunities as boys. “If she has the same baseball development opportunities as the men, I see no reason why a woman couldn’t be a successful MLB pitcher,” she said. “Deception, command and change of speed are all qualities of a successful pitcher. Power is not everything.”
Such an accomplishment wouldn’t be quite as unprecedented as some might assume. Japanese sidewinding knuckleball pitcher Eri Yoshida played in the Arizona Winter League and independent minor league the Golden Baseball League in 2010. Lefthanded pitcher Ila Borders played in the independent Northern League from 1997-1999 and in the indepdendent Western League in 2000. And Jackie Mitchell famously struck out both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig in a 1931 exhibition game, although MLB official historian John Thorn contends it was a publicity stunt.
“I would rather see a women’s pro league, like the WNBA,” Siegal added, “so more girls can actualize their dreams of playing professional baseball.”
Agency: BBDO Atlanta
Client: Justine Siegal, Baseball For All
Title: “Ready to Play”
Chief Creative Officer, Worldwide: David Lubars
Chief Creative Officer, Atlanta: Robin Fitzgerald
Creative Director: Mary O’Keefe
Art Director: Jerry Gentile, Valerie Ang-Chamorro
Senior Producer: Kristine Ling
Group Account Director: Tami Oliva
Chief Strategy Officer: Tricia Russo
Social: Jen Copeland, Rena Feldman
Production Company: Prmry Films
Director: Will Mayer
Edit House: Cut and Run L.A.
Editor: Andy Green
Managing Director: Michelle Eskin
Executive Producer: Amburr Farls
Audio: Lime Studios
Mixer: Zac Fisher
Audio Assistant: Kevin McAlpine
Executive Producer: Susie Boyajan
Music House: Emoto Music
Arranger: Paul Bessenbacher
Executive Producer: Paul Shultz
Color: The Mill
Colorist: Gregory Reese
Producer: Thatcher Peterson
Site Designer: Stephen Thorson
Developer: Stephen Saucier