The competitive baseball season may have just begun, but the marketing departments for our local rivals have already had a friendly little dustup. It started when the Giants rolled out a bus and billboard ad campaign last winter featuring SBC Park insider joke lines such as “Splash Hit” or “Two Cha Chas and a Chardonnay” above the tagline “Do you speak Giants?”
The A’s weren’t going to let that cute strategy go unchallenged. A few weeks ago, a giant electronic billboard ad debuted at the foot of the Bay Bridge with the word “Postseason” in Oakland green and gold. Underneath it, “Do you speak Athletics?”
The Giants may have the nicer stadium and the steadier fan base and the media chew toy Barry Bonds, but the A’s, well, they still have that charming underdog personality. Oh, right — and four World Series titles to the Giants’ none.
“We’ve had some fun on the bridge with the Giants in the past, and we just want to emphasize the on-field success we’ve had,” says Jim Leahey, vice president of sales and marketing for the A’s. “The Bay Bridge is a good place to stir up the pot a little. Obviously, we respect the Giants organization, but it’s a rivalry, and rivalries are good for baseball.”
Leahey, who is new to the club this year, says the Athletics want to keep the aggressive approach of past ad campaigns as they gear up to become the Fremont A’s. The aim is to remind the Bay Area that Oakland has had one of the best teams in baseball over the last decade. “We’ve got this move on the horizon, combined with the fact that we’re winning and winning and winning,” he says. “It gives us an opportunity to move our profile a little bit from the ‘little engine that could’ to a premier organization.”
Since the Giants already fancy themselves that premier organization, all they’ve got left to do is, um, win something. But don’t cry for San Francisco. The Giants launched their own rival campaign this winter: Turn in your green-and-gold stuff bearing the name of former A’s star Barry Zito for tickets to see the pitcher and his new mates in black and orange.