At least when marketers take out ads during the Super Bowl, they always know what they're going to get: A game stretching over about four hours and including one long halftime show. But in its best-four-out-of-seven format, baseball's World Series can be more problematic for brand sponsors because they never really know whether they've got two weeks — or just one — to make their impressions.
That's why, while the San Francisco Giants' four-game sweep of the Detroit Tigers was sweet for San Francisco, it proved problematic for at least two advertising efforts tied directly to the World Series — and, seemingly, to the probability that the Series would last for at least five games.
Take Taco Bell. Thanks to a stolen base by Angel Pagan of the Giants during Game 2 of the Series, Taco Bell is planning a US-wide promotion tomorrow with MLB (assuming Hurricane Sandy doesn't blow it off-course) in which anyone in America can swing by for free Doritos Locos Tacos between 2 and 6 p.m. local time.
Pagan kicked off the fulfillment end of the "Steal a Base, Steal a Taco" promotion with his swipe, stating that he "couldn't be happier my stolen base won free tacos for America.'
Given the looming wrath of Sandy on the Eastern Seaboard, the World Series may be old news everywhere but in San Francisco and maybe Detroit by the time a presumed throng of millions of Americans cashes in on their free tacos Tuesday afternoon. That's not to mention the fact that the entire nation is becoming transfixed on Hurrican Sandy, wherever we live.
But how much more effective might the promotion have been if the Tigers had managed at least to win a game over the weekend, taking the Series to Monday night —or maybe even two victories, which would have shifted the tournament back to San Francisco later in the week and kept Series buzz going for a while?
Taco Bell's unfortunate timing, however, probably pales in comparison to that of a pro-Detroit-commerce TV ad that didn't begin running until Sunday evening, during what would prove to be the last game of the Series, and the second held at Detroit's Comerica Park. "Opportunity in Detroit" is an effort funded in part by Quicken Loans, the Detroit-based national mega-mortgage lender.
In a TV spot that was reminiscent of Chrysler's "Imported from Detroit" ad during the Super Bowl two years ago, the city was shown in all its gritty, can-do glory, with scenes from General Motors, the College for Creative Studies, a Kid Rock concert and a performance by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
"What does opportunity look like?" the spot wonders. "Not what you might think." It told us that opportunity is "as much about grit as it is intellect" and that Detroit comprises a "high-tech corridor located at the intersection of muscle and brains." So opportunity looks like Detroit. Unless, of course, you're the Tigers.