Major League Baseball 2K8 “I Wanna”

You can’t watch a baseball game on TV or read about one in the newspaper’s sports section without becoming a connoisseur of cliches. This spot for video game Major League Baseball 2K8 by Neiman Group bonds with fans by running through a glossary of baseball cliches in good-naturedly ironical fashion.

When the manic voiceover (delivered by Denis Leary) declaims “I wanna make circus catches that’d make Barnum blush,” the screen cuts away from its combination of live and video-game baseball action to show us a Barnum & Bailey poster (complete with blush). A reference to hitting a grand salami brings us a closeup of a salami sandwich. (Quite a tasty-looking one, too. Give this agency a fast-food account!) A one-second glimpse of a rocket blasting off accompanies the stated wish to “start a new space race with my moon shot.” He wants to steal bases until the FBI is after him? This brings a wanted poster to the screen, of course.

By giving literal visual expression to these hackneyed sportscaster/sportswriter phrases, the spot creates something fresh and funny. And, in the process, it links the video-game brand to an insider’s feel for the life of the baseball fan. Sometimes, you suspect a company has little interest in the sport on which its video game is based. This spot (along with others in the campaign) will leave potential customers persuaded that 2K Sports knows its baseball.

The spot’s brash humor also seems well calculated to please the vast, discretionary-spending-rich audience of juvenile young adults (as opposed to juvenile juveniles). Twentysomething guys who sit on their couches hooting at the jokey commentary on SportsCenter will feel MLB 2K8 is right up their power alley, to coin a phrase.–Mark Dolliver