SBJ/20091026/This Week's News

MLB extends cause marketing to Series

It isn’t quite the holiday season yet, but MLB just keeps on giving.

The league is extending its “Going Beyond” cause-related/community service marketing initiative to the World Series, scheduled to begin on Wednesday.

Over the first four games, MLB will celebrate and honor returning veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (Game 1); volunteerism and community service (Game 2); cancer research (Game 3); and youth and youth development (Game 4).

“Using baseball’s power as a social institution to affect change has the highest commitment from ownership and the commissioner,” said Tim Brosnan, MLB executive vice president of business. But there is another reason, Brosnan added. “This is the right thing to do, but we also believe that if we are the best neighbors in sports, that gives us a competitive advantage when a potential business partner is comparing us to another entertainment or sports property.”

MLB leveraged cause-related efforts during this year’s All-Star Game in St. Louis, winning praise from its media and business partners.

MLB will build on its cause-related efforts
employed around the All-Star Game.

MLB spokesman Matt Bourne said that in 2009 the league and its 30 clubs donated more than $100 million in cash and barter to charitable organizations. Bourne said that was an increase over the prior year, but did not have specifics.

CMO Jacqueline Parkes is spearheading the effort for MLB. Parkes said this is the first time MLB has attached an overall theme to the World Series. During the 2005 series, one game was dedicated to survivors and victims of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. “It’s a real chance to raise awareness, raise funds and send a message of support from us and our fans on our biggest stage,” Parkes said.

Specifics for the cause-related tie-ins starting next week include the following:

Game 1 will see a pregame ceremony welcoming back veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. Players and MLB officials will visit a local VA hospital, and players in the World Series will tape special messages to troops overseas. During the game, Fox will air a “Welcome Back Vets” PSA with Michelle Obama and Jill Biden. Each of the first four games will have a PSA tied to that day’s theme.

For Game 2, the awarding of the Chevy-sponsored Roberto Clemente Award, given to the player who best combines on-field skills with community service, serves as a focal point for volunteerism.

Game 3 sees MLB sponsor MasterCard offering a million-dollar donation to Stand Up To Cancer if any ball hits its outfield sign. Players and MLB officials also are expected to visit local cancer patients at hospitals.

The fourth game will showcase youth and youth development, with kids from the Boys & Girls Clubs and Reviving Baseball In Inner Cities programs attending a “Wanna Play?” baseball clinic outside the ballpark and joined by MLB players participating in the World Series. RBI sponsor KPMG will present a $1 million check to the program, and a Boys & Girls Club youth will deliver the ball to the mound for the ceremonial first pitch.

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