Ad community adds its muscle to campaign to make Pirates outfielder a starter in All-Star Game

Bay's brigade

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Maybe the Pittsburgh advertising community has found a cause it can rally around: using the power of marketing to help get Pirates outfielder Jason Bay a starting role in the All-Star Game.

The ad community is urging Pirates fans to vote online in the balloting for the MLB All-Star Team. Fans can cast up to 25 votes from one e-mail address.

This weekend a logo urging people to vote Mr. Bay into the Major League Baseball event coming to PNC Park in July should begin appearing in ads for cars, windows, even appliances.

South Side ad agency GatesmanMarmionDrake came up with the idea and logo earlier this week. Five of its clients -- Courtesy Suzuki, Benson Lincoln Mercury, Metropolitan Window, SturmanLarkin Ford and Dormont Appliance -- promptly agreed to share their advertising space for the cause, said Frank Marmion.

Almost as quickly, the Pittsburgh Ad Federation agreed to send an e-mail out to more than 1,200 people in the regional industry challenging them to join in.

"It's something the community really needs to wrap themselves around," said Karen Love, executive director of the ad group. She thinks it would be a sin if the region can't get organized enough to vote a Pirate into the game Pittsburgh is hosting.

This kind of thing goes beyond baseball, said Brian Bronaugh, president of the ad group and creative director at Strip District agency Mullen. Any effort by Pittsburghers to help promote Pittsburghers is a way to get a positive message out about the community.

Advertisers who already have bought air time or print space are in a position to get the message before the public quickly if they have room to insert the logo or even rewrite radio scripts. Mr. Marmion said a newly adapted Courtesy Suzuki radio spot is already on the air.

Professional sports organizations tend to have rules about who can get involved in their causes, so just in case, he ran the idea by the Pirates first. No problem, said Tim Schuldt, vice president of marketing, sales and broadcasting.

"I certainly am not going to stop a grass-roots groundswell," said Mr. Schuldt, who has been pushing every lever he can to get out the vote.

The Pirates have done print ads, put signs on billboards, set up computers for people to vote on outside the ballpark. Next week, they plan to send out a crew with buttons urging people to "Vote for Bay."

Mr. Schuldt figures they need between 150,000 and 175,000 people to vote 25 times each -- the maximum allowed per e-mail address -- to get some Pirates into the game.

Already, the team believes its efforts have had an impact. At the last update, Mr. Bay had risen from the mid-teens to sixth place, Jose Castillo was up to third place among second basemen, and third basemen Freddy Sanchez was the leading write-in candidate.

But time is running out. Voting ends June 29. Mr. Marmion sounded worried. "If we don't get on the stick, it's going to be too late."

Teresa F. Lindeman can be reached at or at 412-263-2018.


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