For over 20 years now, the Seattle Mariners have provided a little extra entertainment for their fans in the form of its seasonal ad campaign that stars their most popular players. But these aren’t just sizzle reels designed to pump fans up for the upcoming season. Working with their longtime agency of record Copacino + Fujikado, the Mariners typically produce four to five ads that infuses baseball with some kind of non-baseball element—a speedster needing a pit stop or a left-handed pitcher taking up arts and crafts.
Mariners vp of marketing Gregg Greene explained to Adweek the process that goes into making the team’s creative.
“We’ll start in October and November, and we’ll reach out to [Copacino + Fujikado] and start to outline the players and different things around our team that we want to highlight,” Greene said.
The agency will then produce about 100 different scripts for the ball club, but the shop narrows it down to the 25 to 30 best and presents them to the Mariners’ marketing team on a December day that Greene calls one of his favorite days of the year.
“They do a fantastic job capturing our players’ personalities, the ins and outs and quirks of the game,” Greene said of Copacino + Fujikado.
Once the team and the agency have decided which spots they want to film, they typically only have a couple days in Arizona during spring training to shoot the ads with production company Blue Goose Productions.
In the spots, some of the team’s biggest stars share the spotlight as minor leaguers sneak into the background of the commercials as extras. Typically, the team hires actors to fill the roles of ballplayers for opposing teams in the ads, instead of using minor leaguers.
In one spot this year, Seattle pays homage to the crafty lefty—a baseball term for left-handed pitchers who retire opponents using off-speed pitches instead of relying on a blazing fastball like Mariner great Randy Johnson. Marco Gonzales and Wade LeBlanc, two starters in Seattle’s rotation, fit the bill for crafty lefties and star in the spot as a blanket knitter and sculptor.
But recent Japanese import Yusei Kikuchi steals the show with his deadpan look when he turns on the retractable roof to his working model of Seattle’s Safeco Field. An extended version on Twitter shows the players tapping a framed photo of Jamie Moyer, the original crafty lefty and Mariner legend who pitched well into his mid-40s. Greene said the Moyer bit didn’t come from the agency, but from Gonzales.
The second spot picks up in the moments after outfielder Mitch Haniger dove in the stands to make a catch in a real baseball game. As he lays on the ground, a dedicated “Hanimal” fan capitalizes on his lucky encounter to try to make plans with the breakout Mariner star.
The creative took advantage of Mallex Smith’s and Dee Gordon’s speed, as two of the fastest players in all of Major League Baseball for the final two ads. In the first, Smith uses his speed to prepare for a night out following a ballgame, all in the amount of time it takes third baseman Kyle Seager to remove a single cleat. And in the second ad, Dee Gordon blows around the diamond for a triple, as a racing pit crew meets him at third base to help him freshen up following his sprint.