MLB Lets Its Young Superstars Loose in Its Opening Day Ad

Mike Trout, Aaron Judge and other players debate who's the best

Mike Trout takes center stage, literally, in MLB's new spot. Courtesy of MLB
Headshot of Jameson Fleming

With a fresh crop of superstars as young as 19, Major League Baseball is barreling into a new era. And these kids aren’t going to abide by the same unwritten rules established during the century of baseball that preceded them.

They’re here to break traditions, and MLB isn’t being quiet about it. The league kicked off this new thinking with last postseason’s “Rewrite the Rules” campaign featuring a voiceover from Ken Griffey Jr. and young stars like Javy Baez and Francisco Lindor flipping bats, slamming helmets and showing a fiery passion for the game.

This year’s spot features 11 of the game’s brightest young phenoms from $400 million man Mike Trout to Yankees mashers Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Judge as well as a pair of Astros teammates and Braves’ Rookie of the Year Ronald Acuna Jr. Every player in the ad is under 30, and most have only been in the majors for two to three years.

“What we wanted to do was really showcase the youngest star power of our game and really showcase the personalities of the players on and off the field,” said Barbara McHugh, svp of marketing, MLB.

In the spot, the Houston Astros’ Alex Bregman and Carlos Correa declare themselves future World Series champions—and poke fun at Stanton and Judge for preemptively celebrating the Yankees’ 28th title by pointing out they haven’t been a part of the previous 27 championship teams—and others like Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich and Philadelphia’s Rhys Hoskins yell out projected home run totals as if they’re auctioneers.

After the “Rewrite the Rules” postseason campaign highlighted the on-the-field excitement of the newest generation of players, MLB’s revamped marketing team wanted to spotlight the off-the-field personalities. The opening day creative establishes a news conference setting that contains a back and forth banter that “we saw … as a fun way to kind of have that, that 2.0 version” of the campaign, McHugh said.

MLB worked with Cycle for both “Let the Kids Play” spots and produced them during spring training. McHugh said the players mostly had to be shot separately. Given their chaotic schedules, it wasn’t possible to get all of them in the same room together. Despite that, the players ran with the material, often improvising their lines. MLB is planning on releasing outtakes and additional footage digitally in the coming weeks. The spot will also run in ballparks across the league, according to McHugh.

For MLB, following up on the theme of the postseason campaign was a no-brainer. McHugh said the team was confident the ad would be well received after the overwhelming outpouring of positive sentiment she heard from clubs, players, agents and fans in October.

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