Oakland Putting the ‘A’ in Team

The Oakland Athletics may have lost their star slugger, Jason Giambi, to the New York Yankees. But judging from their new ads, they haven’t lost their sense of humor.

A $10-15 million campaign from Foote, Cone & Belding in San Francisco is currently breaking throughout the Bay Area. Instead of focusing on one star, the seven new TV ads showcase a number of top players, including Gold Glove winner Eric Chavez, starting pitcher Mark Mulder and new relief pitcher Billy Koch.

“They were very conscious about [Giambi’s absence]” FCB executive vice president Patrick Kiss said of the creative team. “But they’re a nice group of people and a good team, and so the campaign gives you a sense of the A’s DNA.”

The campaign includes print ads and billboards and headlines that play on the letter ‘A,’ such as, “There is no A in surrender,” “There is no A in ego” and “There is no A in quit.”

One TV spot shows infield practice being disrupted when ground balls keep deflecting off Chavez’s glove, which is apparently actually made of gold.

Another spot shows Mulder practicing, with a firefighter in full gear stationed next to the catcher. After a fastball hits the mitt, the fireman extinguishes it. Borrowing Robert Duvall’s famous phrase from Apocalypse Now, Mulder jokes that he enjoys “the smell of burning leather in the morning.” Another pitcher, Barry Zito, adds that “it smells like victory.”

A third spot has outfielder Jermaine Dye blind folded in front of a piñata, which he destroys—along with a birthday cake—with a furious swing.

A’s officials said they intentionally avoided focusing on one player. “We wanted a campaign that would show the A’s as a team,” said David Alioto, vp of sales and marketing. “We’ve been to the postseason two years in a row, and it is because the whole is greater than any individual.”

Keith Bruce, svp and director of sports marketing, leads the account at FCB. The shop handled Major League Baseball’s ad account before parting with the client last year.