The Chicago Cubs are looking to break their 108-Year drought/CURSE of winning the World Series, the longest such drought/CURSE in major sports. Everyone knows the story of the Cubs and the CURSES that have plagued them to this day, but this year feels different to fans of the Chicago North Siders. It also feels different to one particular brand that is just as passionate about the Cubs ending their curse as their fans!
Leading into Game 5 tonight, I wanted to take a look at adidas’s “#S@& CURSES” campaign and how their Guerrilla Marketing tactic has taken over the city of Chicago, as well as San Francisco and Los Angeles for the last couple weeks.
First, let’s start with why adidas initiated this campaign in the first place, with the first reason being pretty obvious… Kris Bryant. The leading MVP candidate has been with the “Three Stripes” brand since 2014 and is proving to be a great investment in only two seasons in the Major Leagues so far. The defending NL Rookie of the Year hit 39 HR, with 102 RBI and a .292 Batting Average, leading many analysts to anoint him as this year’s NL MVP.
adidas is also the apparel partner of the current Cubs closer, Arodis Chapman, who debuted a new glove this postseason that features a prominent adidas logo in the Cubs primary colors.
In addition, besides a player’s shoes or gloves, adidas doesn’t have as much of a presence in Major League Baseball as they do in other sports. Majestic is the makers of the team uniforms and official apparel (though that will change in 2020), Nike has a deal to produce the undershirts and athletic/”workout” apparel and New Era produces the official hats for the league. In MLB, adidas is a brand that relies on their individual player sponsorships and hope they become the great player they are expected to be!
Now that we have covered adidas’s background for this campaign, let’s take a look at what they have done so far –
First, it started off fairly small actually. Through their adidas Baseball Twitter and Facebook pages, they began posting “#S@& CURSES” images in the Cubs color scheme, encouraging users to update their profile pictures to the image before Game 1 of the NLDS vs. San Francisco.
After the Cubs’ Game 1 victory, the physical signs debuted as giveaways at two pubs in Wrigleyville. They continued to pop-up throughout the Lakeview/Wrigleyville area during NLDS week, as seen in the pictures I took below.
But the phrase also followed the team as it travelled across the country for Games 3 and 4, popping up in McCovey Cove thanks to two resident kayakers. Perhaps they were paid or just West Coast Cub fans looking to support the cause, but this gave viewers an idea that this campaign was not going to be just for those in Chicago. And this was just an appetizer to this campaign.
When the Cubs came back to Chicago last weekend to begin the NLCS, the campaign began to expand. The giveaways continued with T-Shirts joining the aforementioned signs at Murphy’s Bleachers bar behind Wrigley Field. The slogan began appearing on street signs throughout the city in the form of stickers. But the pies de résistance was one tactic that left me wondering if they actually did it???
The adidas team may have been able to carve the “#S@& CURSES” phrase into the Oak Street Beach, for everyone flying over the city to see. An impressive and memorable piece of experiential marketing prowess from adidas as a part of this campaign, if it was real of course! If not, it was still a great way to for adidas to illustrate how they want this campaign to reach the entire the city of Chicago.
Then came a couple quiet days from the company as the Cubs went to Los Angeles for Games 3, 4 and 5. Thursday morning, they awoke with a bang, after the Cubs had tied the series 2-2. adidas Baseball posted images of a plane carrying a “#S@& CURSES” banner flying over Santa Monica pier.
Stickers being posted across the California train stations, even across a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Under close glance, my guess would be Bill Murray’s because the first letter is definitely a “B” and notice how the next two letters looks like it could be “I” and “L” back-to-back.
They even had another Oak Beach moment of were they able to do this? An image was posted where it looked like the “#S@& CURSES” was mown into a bank of Los Angeles State Historic Park. Another moment that had me questioning if they would have gotten permission to do it!
However, the final piece of this campaign’s puzzle (at the time of this writing) was definitely done… And it made my jaw drop! After the Cubs won Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead, adidas infiltrated the Los Angeles Airport and its iconic LAX sign. It hung actually hung a “#S@& CURSES” banner on said sign! A move reminiscent of some of the great rivalries in sports and their treatment of each other’s landmarks, this banner provided an official OMG moment that a Marketing Campaign needs to become memorable!
But it showed consumers and fans how invested adidas is in the Cubs Playoff Run and how they wanted to illustrate that this was going to be a nation-wide campaign. The Cubs are a team and brand with a nationwide fan base. Just look at how many fans attended the away games in Los Angeles and San Francisco this postseason, including my sister at Game 4 of the NLDS!
Chicago isn’t the only city who wants to see this curse broken… The entire country wants this to happen! adidas has done an amazing job with embracing that fact, spreading this campaign across the country, with the idea that if the team doesn’t care about the curse, why should the fans?
I have enjoyed following this campaign this Postseason and I cannot wait to see what they have in store if the Cubs win Game 6 or 7 this weekend.
Knock on Wood…
Continue following this campaign through the following accounts –
Jeremy Darlow – Head of adidas Digital @JeremyDarlow
Michael Ehrlich – adidas PR Director @MichaelEhrlich