MLB Swings For Younger Fans with ‘Epic’ New Campaign

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In a bid to lure younger viewers, Major League Baseball’s new advertising campaign highlights humor over action, featuring players such as San Francisco Giants pitcher Brian Wilson, who continues riffing on his “Fear the beard” MLB 2K11 game spots

The league introduced the new spots in tandem with the start of the 2011 season on March 31st. The previous theme, “Beyond Baseball,” has been replaced with the phrase “MLB Always Epic,” reinforced with a microsite of the same name.[more]

As the New York Times notes, “Major League Baseball sponsors and partners like Pepsi-Cola and Fox Broadcasting have long centered campaigns on star players. So, too, have leagues for other sports like basketball and football; for example, a fanciful new ‘time travel’ campaign for the National Basketball Association features players like Steve Nash. But MLB has shied from that because far more players have local or regional profiles than national stature.

More spots from MLB’s new campaign, including another look inside Wilson’s “epic beard”:

Below, Colorado Rockies pitcher Ubaldo Jimenez looks for a novelty license plate that suits his epic needs:

Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez uses his epic arm to win big at a carnival milk jug toss:

A related, social sub-campaign for the 2011 MLB campaign: the MLB Fan Cave, which “features Mike O’Hara, 37, and Ryan Wagner, 25, watching the 2011 baseball season unfold from the old Tower Records store at East Fourth Street and Broadway in Manhattan, sharing their thoughts through Twitter (@MLBFanCave), a blog on mlb.com, Facebook, video clips and appearances on the MLB Network cable channel,” as the Times notes.

In this Fan Cave video, baseball fans find out how to win tickets from Pepsi Max and the New York Yankees:

The New York Times also notes that baseball advertisers are getting hipper this season, citing two examples: Pabst‘s Old Style beer “plays up the brand’s sponsorship of the Chicago Cubs and its bottles designed to resemble bats. The ads carry cheeky headlines like ‘Crack a bat,’ ‘Tossed back by Cubs fans for 61 years’ and, referring to Wrigley Field, ‘We were there when the ivy wall was more wall than ivy.'”

And StubHub, the online ticket reseller, is rolling out its first national TV commercials. “In one spot, as an organ plays Take Me Out to the Ball Game, young men romp through a fantasy field of dreams; after a team mascot helps one catch a fly, he lands on grass carpeted with hot dogs.”

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