Hope is a potent brew, unfamiliar to the palate of most Blue Jays fans. But this baseball season, the long-suffering devotee and the bandwagon-jumper alike are acquiring a taste. And marketers are hoping to get in on the intoxicating effects.
On Sunday, during the Jays last regular-season game as they officially made their way into the playoffs for the first time in 22 years, sponsors were also celebrating. That includes one brand that has been with the team since its inception in 1977: Coca-Cola Canada. Every advertiser associated with the team is busy making playoff marketing plans, but the beverage giant has a rare advantage: not just an ad from the 1993 World Series championship season, but an ad people actually remember.
During the broadcast on Sunday, Coke brought back the commercial, which originally used its well-known “Always Coca-Cola” jingle, with the lyrics rewritten to celebrate the team. The new version mimics the colourful graphics of the original – with just a soupçon of that early-90s vibe – and brings back the same jingle with new lyrics written to cheer on the Jays.
“We’re constantly asked about it,” Michael Samoszewski, vice-president of the sparkling business unit, for Coca-Cola Ltd. in Canada, said of the original Blue Jays ad. “… That’s one of the things we find so powerful about the spot. Even though it’s been 22 years, it still strikes a chord.”
The commercial comes up in conversation, he said, but recently fans also took to social media to suggest that the company could mark the Jays’ comeback by giving the commercial new life as well.
“Please @CocaCola, bring back this sweet ad,” and “I think it’s time to dust off these ones,” fans wrote on Twitter. On the company’s Facebook page, others wrote that “The Blue Jays need some catchy jingles” and “Please bring back the Blue Jays jingle!!! Do do do do do, always coca cola.” This is the astonishing power of sports: the glee over a winning team is so pervasive it can actually make people like ads. This great, improbable promise is one reason marketers bet on sponsorships. Even the reviled squatters of our media landscape – advertisers – become, in the distracting goodwill of the playoffs, welcome guests.
There is a reason people remember the “do do do do do” jingle so well: Coke went hard on the strategy back in the 1993 championship season. Four different versions of the jingle – each tailored to the regular season, the playoffs, and the championships – played in heavy rotation on television, and on the Jumbotron in the stadium that was still known as the SkyDome. This time around it will play on TV again, on radio, and it will be promoted through Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
It has been 15 years since the company used the “Always Coca-Cola” slogan, so the jingle had to be updated to sneak in a reference to its current tagline, “Open Happiness.”
Jays fans who remember the 1993 World Series team likely also remember the commemorative Coke cans celebrating the team. Is it possible those could come back as well?
“The key in that was the Jays going all the way,” Mr. Samoszewski said. “There’s a lot of games between now and all the way. We have a lot of time to think about that.”
But the company, like many other sponsors, is thinking hard about its playoff plans – including how to make the most out of reviving its nostalgic jingle.
“Certainly there’s more to come. I don’t want to divulge too much,” he said. “Just like the Jays, we’re taking it game by game. Trying to focus.”