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MLB campaign is its biggest ever

Major League Baseball this week will open the 2009 season by breaking its first new marketing tag line in three years: “This is Beyond Baseball.”

MLB Chief Marketing Officer Jacqueline Parkes described the multimedia ad campaign as the league’s largest ever, with MLB rights holders slated to dedicate the equivalent of $65 million in asset media to the campaign over the course of the season. Longtime MLB agency McCann-Erickson assisted with the work, which grew out of research that showed the bonds — on and off field — that baseball fans have for the game.

“Consumers kept playing back to us that the game is a part of our lives and connects them in a way that is ownable only by baseball,” Parkes said. “This campaign celebrates fans’ shared connections to the game of baseball over the years.”

The 20 ads will run nationally on MLB rights holders Fox, ESPN, TBS and the MLB Network, and locally on broadcasts of MLB teams’ rights holders. More than 10 spots will focus on star players, starting with Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum of the San Francisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard.

The Lincecum ad tells the story of how Lincecum’s father taught him the rudiments of pitching, while Howard’s talks about “strength,” beginning with his parents’ participation in the civil rights marches of the early 1960s and concluding with Ryan’s feats of strength on MLB diamonds. Both use video and photos from the players’ formative years.

Other players that will be featured in ads include Evan Longoria and Grady Sizemore. Another early spot will describe the optimism shared by baseball fans on Opening Day. Ads are also planned around Father’s Day, Mother’s Day and the 70th anniversary of Lou Gehrig’s farewell speech at Yankee Stadium, as well as the All-Star Game and postseason play.

“Beyond Baseball” follows MLB’s “I Live for This” campaign, which dates back six seasons and was preceded by “What a Game.”

Web site beyondthesouvenir.com will include a sort of Facebook so that fans who have snagged a foul ball at an MLB game can post photos of their souvenirs and brag about their exploits.

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