Put them in, Coach!
Baseball for All, a group dedicated to getting more girls in the game, is launching a pro-bono campaign from BBDO Atlanta that plays off the chorus to "Centerfield," John Fogerty's iconic paean to America's pastime.
"If you tell a girl she can't play baseball, what else will she think she can't do?" asks organization founder Justine Siegal, who last year became the first woman to coach for a Major League Baseball team (in the Oakland A's Fall Instructional League.) "We empower girls to be bold and confident in their passions and to never let a gender stereotype limit their dreams. We teach parents, leagues and communities how to start girls' baseball programs of their own. We run tournaments around the country so girls can meet other girls who love baseball as much as they do."
The simple, affecting spot below was shot this summer at such a tournament, with girls of different ages and ethnicities each speaking a few words of the Fogerty song. Though the lines are familiar—the song has been a staple at MLB stadiums for decades—the slowed-down, spoken-word arrangement reverberates with a heightened sense of urgency: "Put me in coach. I'm ready to play. TODAY."
"The idea is to go after coaches specifically with this campaign, because that's where the drop-off happens," says agency chief creative officer Robin Fitzgerald. "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."
Donated media includes ESPNW.com, and BBDO hopes to secure placements on other high-profile platforms—such as Jumbotron screens in Chicago and Cleveland, and during various game broadcasts—as the World Series gets underway tonight between the Cubs and Indians. The new Fox drama Pitch is also fueling discussion of women in baseball.
"People want to talk baseball this week. And we want to give them something new to add to the conversation," says Fitzgerald.
Driving visits to a new website is a key goal. The site features a data collector designed to put coaches and players together to form more local teams.
"But it's also important to show how passionate these girls are about baseball," says Fitzgerald. "It's too easy for people not supporting girls' baseball to say, 'Well, they have softball, stop complaining.' Softball is great, but it's a different sport. 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."
Siegal believes women could one day play in professional baseball. "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 says. "Deception, command and change of speed are all qualities of a successful pitcher. Power is not everything."
Ultimately, however, "I would rather see a women's pro league, like the WNBA," Siegal says, "so more girls can actualize their dreams of playing professional baseball."
This setup would allow both men and women to pursue their passions. "I have a daughter and a son," Fitzgerald says, "and I want them both to be whatever they want to be."
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 Directors: 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
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
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