Tonight, I'll be watching the baseball game between the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox on NESN. And I can't wait to see 30 Rock's Alec Baldwin and The Office's John Krasinski in their fifth in a series of New Era commercials demonstrating the true meaning of sports rivalry.
Now, I was born in California and grew up in Michigan. So, why will I be watching the Yankees-Red Sox game on cable television and New Era's commercial on YouTube this evening? There are two reasons.
First, the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry is one of the oldest, most famous and fiercest rivalries in professional sports. According to USA Today, "There's no rivalry in sports that comes close. The hostility and tensions explode onto TV screens all across America and on the baseball field whenever these two teams collide. It's an embedded part of our culture.”
Second, I've gotten hooked on New Era's TV spots, which began airing back on April 8, 2011. They feature Baldwin, an avid Yankees fan, and Krasinski, a passionate Red Sox fan, exchanging some friendly trash-talk about each other's teams.
New Era's 2011 Major League Baseball (MLB) marketing campaign, "Rivals Are Forever," has run during Yankees-Red Sox games throughout the season on ESPN, FOX, YES Network and NESN. Other cable channels, including Comedy Central, Adult Swim, Spike, FX, and SNY, have also participated.
But, there's also been a social media part of the campaign, which has run on a section of New Era's website called MLB Rivalry, on Facebook at New Era Caps, and on YouTube at New Era Cap Company Inc.'s channel.
According to a 2010 study by Frank N. Magid Associates, Inc. for YouTube and Next New Networks, 60 percent of TV viewers surf the Internet while watching television. So, New Era has been smart to upload each of their TV spots to YouTube at the same time that they first air on television. This enables fans to share the videos during the game and allows blogs to embed them as well as comment on them.
New Era's "Rivals Are Forever" campaign promotes the brand's Authentic Collection (AC) on-field cap. And Krasinski wears one in the first spot, "New Era Commercial – The Trash Talking Begins.”
Uploaded on April 8, 2011, "The Trash Talking Begins" had 881,928 views as of Aug. 27. It also had 2,245 Lives and only 34 Dislikes. And the video has been seen on AllThingsD and has been embedded on Devour.com, SportsIllustrated.com, Barstool Sports, and The Huffington Post.
Krasinski also wears a Boston Red Sox Authentic On Field Game 59FIFTY in "New Era Commercial – One Hitter.”
Uploaded on May 12, 2011, "One Hitter" had 623,258 views as of Aug. 27. It also had 1,451 Likes and only 6 Dislikes. And the video has been seen on Big League Stew – MLB – Yahoo! Sports and has been embedded on Barstool Sports, The Huffington Post, Devour.com, and The Daily What.
A dog wears a Boston Red Sox Authentic Youth On Field Game 59FIFTY in "New Era Commercial – Dog.”
Uploaded on June 5, 2011, "Dog" had 250,137 views as of Aug. 27. It also had 304 Likes and only 8 Dislikes. And the video has been seen on Big League Stew – MLB – Yahoo! Sports and has been embedded on Sports Illustrated, PopEater.com, Barstool Sports, Entertainment Weekly, and The Huffington Post.
In "New Era Commercial – JumboTron John," it appears that a New York Yankees Authentic On Field Game 59FIFTY was Photoshopped on Krasinski in a bikini.
Uploaded on Aug. 3, 2011, "JumboTron John" had 60,472 views as of Aug. 27. It also had 110 Likes and only 1 Dislike. And the video has been seen on BuzzFeed – Latest and has been embedded on Splitsider, Highsnobiety.com, NYMag.com, BuzzFeed, OfficeTally, AfterElton.com, The Huffington Post, and Entertainment Weekly.
With the fifth New Era commercial expected to debut during this week's Red Sox-Yankees series, I think it's about time we saw Baldwin wearing a cap. Seeing his neighbor's dog wearing a kids cap doesn't count.
And I think it's time to begin anticipating where New Era's "Rivals Are Forever" campaign goes next. It's worth noting that the in-store part of the campaign pays homage to other great baseball rivalries including the San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers, as well as the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals.
New Era has seen steady growth over the past five years and is on pace to double its volume by 2015. On July 25, 2011, the company announced a restructuring its global product and marketing teams and said it was investing more resources to further develop their accessories and apparel divisions.
So, don't be surprised to see "Rivals Are Forever" campaigns that feature the Indian and Pakistani cricket teams or the Celtics and Rangers football clubs in Scotland. Fans take these rivalries seriously. And that means that the fans will be leaning forward whether they are watching an India-Pakistan cricket match or the Old Firm derby on their television or computer screens.
I know this first hand. I graduated from the University of Michigan, which had an intense rivalry with The Ohio State University. The annual college football game between the Wolverines and the Buckeyes was known as "The Game" in the Midwest.
I spent my junior year at the University of Edinburgh. And in 1970, I took a train to Glasgow to stand in "the stands" at Hampden Park (because there were no seats in "the stands" back then) to watch the Scottish League Cup final between Celtic and Rangers. I was wearing my Edinburgh scarf – which was blue with green and white stripes.
Now, I didn't know that the Celtic's "colours" are green and white, while the Rangers' "colours" are royal blue, white and red. And I didn't know that fans were kept apart at Hampden Park to prevent sectarian violence from breaking out during a match between the clubs.
Although I can't remember whose side of the field I was on, I do recall that the ambiguous "colours" in my Edinburgh scarf almost triggered some trouble – until one of my university classmates came to my defense by telling the outrageous lie: "He's Canadian.”
I kept my mouth shut (so my American accent wouldn't give me away) and watched a 16-year-old player named Derek Johnstone score the only goal in a tense affair that saw Rangers wrestle the cup from Celtic who had held it for five years in a row.
So, yes, I think New Era's "Rivals Are Forever" campaign could be successful in other sports and in other countries.
And I'm also a fan of the Boston Celtics, New England Patriots, and Boston Bruins. So, I can't wait to talk some smack to all my friends that root for despicable, terrible, how-in-the-hell-can-you-cheer-for-them teams like the Los Angeles Lakers, Indianapolis Colts, and Montreal Canadiens. And now that the Liverpool Football Club is owned by the Fenway Sport Group, which also owns the Boston Red Sox, I guess I should add Manchester United to my growing list of teams of an "Evil Empire.”
Hey, I may not have been born in Boston, but I've learned to love the sports rivalries that this City of Champions has with the rest of the world. It's much more fun than wearing ambiguous "colours" and being passed off as a Canadian.