The Philadelphia Phillies launched a new OOH campaign on 12 March, ahead of the start of the new Major League Baseball (MLB) season, which aimed to drive home the message that ‘baseball is more than a game, it is a feeling, a sensory experience and an emotion’.
The ultra-minimalist campaign was built around a copy-free billboards celebrate the team and the return of the game (after the end of an owner/player lockout which threatened the 2022 season).
Created in partnership with local Philly agency Truth & Consequences, the campaign consisted of a trio of billboards with tightly cropped images from the Phillies’ photo archive: the grass at Citizens Bank Park, the front of a Phillies jersey, and a close-up of the Philly Phanatic mascot’s fur.
The campaign rolled out 48 hours after the lockout ended and sought to build local excitement and buzz ahead of the new season.
This billboard campaign for the Phillies
"No copy. No graphics. Pure baseball." pic.twitter.com/4TQKuIUw6Z
— Front Office Sports (@FOS) March 24, 2022
“We lost a great deal of natural and organic momentum that typically builds over the course of the winter and into spring training this year,” outlined Philadelphia Phillies VP Of marketing and New Media Michael Harris. “Making the game topical and top-of-mind again was the macro-objective without any sort of heavy sales pitch. The baseball experience is truly unique and provides a wonderful foundation to build on. Truth & Consequences has an amazing knack for storytelling, it’s one of their many great strengths. The simplicity of this campaign is exactly what we were looking for.”
“Because of that lockout, there was far less talk than most off-seasons about the Phillies or baseball. So the team simply asked us to get people thinking about the Phillies, which was a really intriguing, open-ended brief,” explained Truth & Consequences Creative Director Brendan Quinn, who added that the idea and approach emerged from the gloom of the lockout when it seemed there might be no baseball this summer.
“The agency team started asking themselves simple questions about their first memories of going to a baseball game and the answers – such as how bright and green the grass looked when walking in to the stadium, the sounds of ball-on-bat, the notes of ‘Take Me Out To The Ballgame, the smell of roasting peanuts and the taste of the first ballpark hotdog of the season – formed the ideas behind the executions,” added Quinn who also posted the outdoor ads on his own social channels. “We just wanted to capture these emotions and sensory memories. In a lot of ways, we didn’t make this campaign. The game of baseball did.”
The first wave of work will be followed by a second phase of the campaign, also created by Truth & Consequences, with more specific messaging around the idea of ‘Because Baseball’.
According to Quinn, sports marketing often falls in to the trap of trying to be bigger, louder and more in-your-face, but the team and the club’s marketers felt that being simple was a way to stand out.
We will leave it up to you to decide whether he was right.
At Activative we certainly feel it is a refreshing, old-school alternative to the current sports marketing trend for dynamic 3D OOH work.