Cubs, Fans and now adidas wants to see the curse broken!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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 –

adidas Baseball – Facebook; @adidasbaseball

Jeremy Darlow – Head of adidas Digital @JeremyDarlow

Michael Ehrlich – adidas PR Director @MichaelEhrlich

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Will the real Los Angeles Rams, please stand up?

As a brand that is… We all kind of know the team is a mid-pack team this season, but I do give them a lot of credit for going 2-1 to start the season!

Now that the Rams have “officially” (not counting Preseason) played their first game in Los Angeles, I want to talk about is the franchise’s move to Los Angeles and how, in my eyes, they can’t seem to finalize what they are as a brand.

For starters, the Rams were going to enter into a “brand limbo” of sorts once they decided to move to Los Angeles this season. One, their crazy expensive Stadium being built in Inglewood, CA will not be ready until the 2019 season. Many sports franchises look to have a rebrand when they either move or build a new home for the team, i.e. the Sacramento Kings.

Two, the team is technically moving back to its “original” home, where the franchise came to Los Angeles in 1946. Most franchises look to rebrand themselves to separate itself from its previous past, usually because of its place in a new city. But this is different. Los Angeles already has brand for the Rams, a brand that not only featured the popular Yellow Gold and Blue, but Blue and White in the 60s-70s and even Yellow and Red for one year in 1949.

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Rams personnel have talked about their intention of having a “Los Angeles”-exclusive brand once their new stadium opens and this makes sense. The current Metallic Gold and Navy Blue is a brand that is exclusive to St. Louis, first debuting in 2000. So it disappointed many fans that the only significant change to the logo and color scheme was updating the team name, even if many didn’t understand the necessary procedures a team needs to go through in order to re-brand.

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According to the NFL, if a team requests to re-brand, they must submit permission between January and March of a given year; with implementation to take place two years after that. Which means that if the Rams had submitted a re-brand this year, the earliest we would see it on the field would be 2018.

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They did update their wordmark (above) to one with similarities to the mark that was featured in the 70s, when the Rams were at their highest peak of popularity and made the Super Bowl in 1979.

It is at this point where the Los Angeles Rams brand has begun to go all over the place. It began with the very first episode of Hard Knocks, when I first started noticing all of the Rams apparel that the coaches were wearing. Most of them were wearing a logo with the Metallic Gold and Navy Blue scheme or the current Ram logo. But in fact, they were also wearing shirts, hats and jackets prominently in Blue and White, with the team’s logo from the 70s heavily featured.

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There were some Rams personnel wearing the previously mentioned Yellow and Blue scheme, especially the fans that attended training camp.

Then came the announcement by the Rams that they would be wearing their “Road” White uniforms during their home games at the LA Coliseum this season. When announced, the Rams said that it was a tribute to “the days of the Fearsome Foursome” and a modern nod to their history in the Coliseum and the franchise.

Next, during the team’s two preseason games played at the LA Coliseum, the end zones featured the update “Los Angeles Rams” wordmark in the Blue and White color scheme from the 60s-70s. Throughout the stadium, it was filled with logos and wordmarks featuring the Blue and White color scheme.

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Then came the debut of the Rams’ first advertising campaign, featuring the tagline “We’re Home”. The campaign, designed by their agency of record Art Machine (they’ve also done some blockbuster movies as well!), features top players Todd Gurley, Aaron Donald and Tavon Austin traversing some of the city’s landmarks and downtown area.

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What you should notice in the ads above is not only are the players wearing the all-white uniforms mentioned before, but also that the primary Rams’ Head Logo is Navy and White.

This was the first time I had noticed this version of said logo, so I started looking for it in other places. And wouldn’t you know, it is the logo that is featured on the Rams Website and all of the Social Media Pages!

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This is also the logo featured on the local Bud Light cans, which are a part of the NFL’s partnership with the national beer brand for this season.

In short, the Rams made it seem like this White and Blue color scheme was going representing the team’s brand for this year, right?… Well here is where it gets weird.

One, if this is the logo and color scheme that are being featured as the Rams Primary Logo across these avenues and channels, one would think there should be apparel available for fans to show their support for this brand look?…

Well, go to the Rams NFL Shop and see for yourself… I couldn’t find a shirt at all that featured this color scheme with the “current” brand logos.

Then comes the announcement (on Ryan Seacrest’s Radio Show no less), that the Rams would be wearing their 90s Yellow and Blue uniforms for their home opener last weekend.

Granted, these uniforms are really beautiful and looked great under the LA sun, but it doesn’t match what the Rams were putting forth as their brand for the past two months. Heck, the in-stadium signage within the LA Coliseum continued to feature the Blue and White color scheme and logos.

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Yes, their fans seem to have the preference of returning to the Blue and Yellow color scheme, but the fans will follow whatever brand the team puts out there. That is the beauty of a franchise moving to your city… You are going to become a fan, no matter what nickname, color scheme and logos they want to display.

Sidebar – Am I the only one who notices that the Rams’ navy helmet is just a complete mismatch of blues? I know that the NFL’s rules are that you can only use a single base color on a team’s helmets, but if that is the case, why would you wear jerseys that don’t match well said helmet?

To summarize my point, I feel like the Los Angeles Rams have a great opportunity to prominent display a brand that can take advantage of this return home. One that will be embraced no matter what by their football starved fanbase.

However, they are completely missing what it means to establish a brand and I am worried that they are going to continue using a continuous amount of logos and color schemes until their new stadium is complete in three years. I say move forward with the aforementioned White and Blue logo and color scheme, until said stadium is complete and then you can officially look towards a long-term Rams brand in Los Angeles.

As a final commentary on this subject, please see the embedded video below from Keith Olbermann, who had some very interesting words on the history of the Rams and their “potential” future in LA a couple years ago… Notice the logos?