Just in time for the Yankees coming to town, the Red Sox are airing a new TV ad that celebrates Manny Ramirez's 500th home run and Jonathan Papelbon's fast ball. If there's one product that wouldn't seem to need a boost from advertising, it would be the Sox, baseball's defending world champions and a team that hasn't had an empty seat at a home game since 2003.
Nevertheless, the team unveiled a branding campaign this season, with the new TV ad as the latest iteration. In past years, Sox ads were about selling tickets. Ads in this season's campaign, called "Here," take a different approach.
"This is the first time we've put a concerted effort behind a consistent, season-long theme," said Sam Kennedy, the team's chief sales and marketing officer. "These new ads are softer. They look to brand Fenway as a multi-generational place to go and celebrate family."
Besides driving traffic to Fenway, ads are also about thanking fans and celebrating team history. And because on-field success is "fragile," Kennedy added. "We need to do everything we can to sustain this current phenomenon."
At Harvard Business School, Professor Stephen A. Greyser studies such topics as brand marketing and sports management. In his view, there are "circles of fandom," and a campaign such as "Here" may be an effort to reach beyond hard-core fans and engage new audiences in a sense of Red Sox nationhood.
Kennedy declined to disclose the "Here" campaign's budget. Ads are primarily running in places that have a Sox connection. TV ads are airing on the New England Sports Network, which the Sox control. Print ads run in the Globe. The Globe's corporate parent, The New York Times Co., owns 17 percent of the Sox.
The campaign was created by Boston ad agency Conover Tuttle Pace.
While TV ads show plenty of Sox heroics, they're not meant to be "a highlight reel," said Grant Pace, the agency's executive creative director. "'Here' was created to tap into a deeper well of emotion."
So who is the target audience?
Said Pace, "Anyone who has ever been, or will ever, be a part of Red Sox Nation."
Please click here to visit a website where other TV ads in the "Here" campaign can be viewed.
(By Chris Reidy, Globe staff)