Atomic Playpen Ads Make a Splash at Target Field

The local agency's multi-faceted advertising campaign for Pentair includes a "WaterCam," which displays a live feed of Twins fans-who appear to be under water.

When Minneapolis-based digital advertising agency Atomic Playpen was charged with creating a campaign for Pentair, Inc.-the “official sustainable water provider” for the Minnesota Twins-the company wanted to leverage the high-tech capabilities of Target Field's new equipment.

It built an integrated advertising package for Golden Valley-based water-systems manufacturer Pentair, whose sponsorship rights include advertising throughout the park during each home game.

During the second inning, Target Field's jumbotron displays a live feed of Twins fans as a camera moves throughout the stadium. Atomic Playpen developed 3D animation that features a blend of special lighting, tinting, distortion, and other effects that create the appearance that fans are under water. And an animated 3D baseball “floats” in the water, adding to the illusion. The “WaterCam” was launched during this year's season opener and plays during the second inning of every home game.

The following video illustrates multiple elements of the Pentair ad campaign. Fast-forward to 0:38 to see the WaterCam in action.

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Mike Kretsinger, Atomic Playpen's executive creative director and founding partner, said that his agency is constantly pushing clients toward new technologies. “We've been seeing motion-driven technology like Microsoft Kinect, and we wanted to bring that type of thinking to the professional sports world,” he said in a Monday phone interview. “That's where we're heading-projects that are more audience-driven. Clients seem open to that idea, and we'll continue moving them in that direction.”

While the WaterCam was developed specifically for Pentair-the underwater effect may not be appropriate for other advertisers-Kretsinger said the technology “has a lot of potential” to open doors to new business, although confidentiality agreements prohibit him from disclosing details about projects in the pipeline. “We're going to be actively sharing news the moment it comes in,” he said.

In addition to the WaterCam, Atomic Playpen developed Pentair ads for behind home plate, on electronic billboards surrounding the field, and on video monitors spread throughout the stadium. There are also print ads in game-day programs featuring quick response (QR) codes-barcodes that can be read by camera phones-that look like baseball diamonds.

“We are constantly looking for innovative ways to help corporate sponsors get their message out, and this is the first time in professional sports that we have seen 3D animation combined with a live camera feed to create this type of effect,” Andy Price, the Twins' senior director of broadcast-game presentation, said in a statement. “We are looking forward to seeing how fans interact with it in the 2011 season.”

Atomic Playpen said that initial reactions-both from fans and from Pentair-have been positive, although the company is still in the process of tracking Web analytics to determine how the Target Field campaign has contributed to online traffic at Pentair's Web site.

Pentair's presence at the ballpark extends beyond a marketing campaign: The company forged an “eco-partnership” with the Twins before Target Field was even built. Pentair, one of Minnesota's 25 largest public companies, built a rainwater recycling and reuse system, which collects water from the stadium, filters it and disinfects it with ultraviolet light and chlorine, and pumps it back out to irrigate the field or clean the stands.

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