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Right on Q: Selling the Sox

An in-depth analysis of White Sox TV commercials, and a modest marketing proposal.

If everything works out, Adam Eaton could be the next face of the White Sox franchise.
If everything works out, Adam Eaton could be the next face of the White Sox franchise.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

This blog is a gathering place for obsessive White Sox fans. We're the people who not only remember Danny Richar, we know the number of home runs he hit in a White Sox uniform.

(The answer is six, by the way.)

We are not the target market for the White Sox Marketing Department. To quote Hawk Harrelson, they already have our money. The 2014 TV ad campaign can be nothing but 30 seconds of the word WHITE SOX accompanied by an ear-piercing tone.

We're there either way.

But it's March. And since I'm bad at baseball analysis ("JOSE ABREU HIT BASEBALL" is my assessment of his swing mechanics), I'll take a gander at the Sox TV commercial.

The analysis starts with one caveat: TV commercials are forgotten as soon as the season begins. The baseball product in 2013 was so unbelievably awful that it immediately pushed the "Make an Impact" into the memory hole. 2013 was not defined by TV commercials. It was defined by this:

Hopefully, the Sox take a page from the book of Josef Stalin and banish all reminders of the 2013 season.

That means you, "Welcome to the Show."

The current Sox TV commercial is what you would call "replacement level advertising." It has stock footage of fans at the ballpark. You see images of memorable plays (drawing heavily on the 2008 Blackout Game). The voiceover is nothing but boilerplate language about duty, honor, and being part of something larger than yourself.

The sales pitch makes sense if you're trying to convince someone to join the United States Army. It's silly when you're talking about baseball. After all, baseball is entertainment.

For the ad agency, the Sox have nowhere to go but up. The 2013 campaign was such a downer, any commercial based on the previous year would look like it was designed by Don Draper:

The White Sox ads used to be whimsical. 2008 was probably the best of the bunch. The spots designed to sell the pre-season hype did just that:

Carlos Quentin was the breakout star of 2008, so it would make sense that TCQ would be the centerpiece of 2009's ad campaign:

2011 was an underwhelming a baseball season, but the ad campaign matched everyone's preseason expectations.

For the record, my favorite White Sox commercial cannot be found on YouTube. It's "Dye with the catch, Swisher with the worm!? I can't stand it!" The spot aired in the middle of the 2008 season, and it's bathed in the warm glow of a team that surpassed everyone's expectations and then some.

The White Sox have no choice but to run a bland TV commercial. It would be unfair to Jose Abreu to make him the centerpiece of the ad campaign. The pressure to perform would be astronomical. I still believe Adam Dunn was screwed by the expectation that he was going to hit 50 home runs in The Cell.

Even in bad times, the Sox could rely on the outsized personalities of Ozzie Guillen and A.J. Pierzynski. They are gone. Robin Ventura doesn't really run towards the spotlight. It would be nice for Adam Eaton to actually be the best leadoff hitter in White Sox history. He's got the personality that can carry an ad campaign.

Put it this way: If the 2015 White Sox ad campaign centers around Adam Eaton's winning smile and Jose Abreu crushing baseballs ... good things happened in 2014.

On a related note: Maybe the White Sox should have a promotional night geared towards people like us. Yes, they have blogger night and social media night. But the guys and gals in marketing can kick it up a notch.

Parallel Universe Night.

Anyone who watches Star Trek and its various spinoffs is familiar with the concept of the Parallel Universe.

The Sox could devote a night to celebrating what might have been. They can wear one of the uniforms that weren't selected during the uniform design contest in 1981. The Sox can also honor their 1959 World Series championship, the 1983 and 1993 AL Pennants, and the like.

This is also an extraordinarily expensive idea with limited appeal, which is why I would be a terrible businessman.