Making Fans Into Legends-April 2012

Making Fans Into Legends-April 2012

Carmichael Lynch’s plan to amp up the Baseball Hall of Fame’s appeal is fan-centric to the extreme.

Carmichael Lynch is putting its creative muscle behind a national icon that attracts only a sliver of the global sport’s fans, but with approach that may strike that sport’s most tradition-bound fans as heresy mixed with modern narcissism.

The goal is boosting the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum by focusing on the role of fans in the history of baseball through a competition called “Fan of Fame.” The campaign was born during a CL staffer’s annual trek to Cooperstown, when several agency employees struck up a conversation about marketing the Hall to a broader audience, explains Dave Damman, chief creative officer of the Minneapolis-based ad agency.

“We’re in the art of persuasion as advertisers—and when we went there, we decided more people need to see this,” says Damman. “So we thought, how do we persuade more people to go?”

At press time, creative details were being refined, but the campaign centerpiece will be a film designed to “focus the lens back on the fans,” says Damman. The agency sifted through mountains of historic baseball footage and digitally excised fans from some of the game’s most iconic scenes—imagine Lou Gehrig reading his farewell speech to a empty Yankee Stadium, or Hank Aaron breaking Babe Ruth’s record by crushing a homer into vacant bleachers.

The ad, which will likely be shown on ballpark video boards, advertises a website where fans can upload videos to nominate themselves or fellow fans for the competition. Fans will then vote, narrowing the pool of finalists. A panel of judges (to include “celebrities that support the museum”) will select several winners to be honored at an event in the famed museum, near their heroes.

Carmichael Lynch is trying to shift the perception of the Hall away from “a low-priority bucket-list item” to one of the nation’s top-tier destinations, says Damman. “It’s about making the Hall relevant to future generations.” Expect a heavy social media component for a tech-savvy generation.

Damman describes the campaign as “a labor of love,” noting that the agency’s baseball devotees are donating much of their time and expertise to make the campaign a reality.