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MLB Dropped the Ball

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7 Friday, September 18th, 2009

Have you seen the video of the Phillies dad catching a fly ball? In front of a cheering crowd, he gives it to his toddler daughter who promptly throws it away. It’s so endearing to see his shocked expression, then an “aww shucks” flood of unconditional love for his little girl.

Phillies Dad catches a flyball then reacts when his daughter throws it away

If you’ve been under a rock, go check out the video on Yahoo! Sports.

Chances are, you saw this video within the first 48 hours of its release on YouTube or embedded in a blogs. This event is the hottest piece of content to go viral in recent memory. It’s just so darn cute! This guy is the epitome of “AWESOME DAD”, one I personally can relate to better than the fat dumb dad on any number of sitcoms and spots in the past decade.

It has all the elements of a classic story packed into 30 seconds: plot, character, theme, climax and resolution. A father’s pride, a child’s mistake, forgiveness, reconciliation. It’s so tightly bundled in a beautiful way, it becomes an instant Internet meme. It’s ripe for a super mash-up, something savvy marketers crave.

Unfortunately, the MLB lawyers have trumped all reason and yanked the video from all video-sharing sites, and by proxy, all embedded media like blogs and social networks. Video from their own site is coded in a manner that does not allow it to be played from anywhere except their site. Boom boom pow, this is so 2000 and late!

MLB Copyright Violation Notice

The MLB completely wasted an opportunity for the MLB to attach its brand to a heart-warming story. Mashable agrees. The MLB could have been recast in celebration of fatherhood or baseball as a family game.

I can already see the 30s spot: the touching video, professionally mastered with compelling V.O. or slide copy. That is fine. But it’s so much more sincere relating to the story when it’s shared among friends in ways they already communicate. Forcing everyone to go to a branded site loses a degree of authenticity.

Presumably, the brilliant legal minds at MLB responded from a flat-policy to defend against future video sharing. I understand the protective need, certainly an open license could be granted in these extraordinary cases. That is the difference between thoughtful leadership and policy management. Instead, the MLB reaction suggests pure greed in a game played by millionaires.

At least the Phillys are playing this up. I hear Dad is getting lots of swag and is making the talk-show circuit. That may seem greedy too, but this kind of PR is organic and altruistic. The team is offering up a wonderful story without the expectation of getting something in return. Big difference.

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7 Comments For This Post

  1. William

    Shannon, by comparison, read this NFL PR story on yahoo sports about Vince Young taking Steve McNairs boys to a father-son event at school. I’ve always thought the NFL did a good job of relating their players to community.

    Nice post.

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About Me

I am an executive-level interactive producer specializing in social media, online community management and buzz marketing for national accounts. I provide agency support & client service across multiple industries. I love integrated campaign strategy, working with creative teams, kicking-off projects and driving them through launch.

I am currently working at Charles Schwab in Austin, Texas.

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Left Brain
SEO, media strategy, web analytics, web application architecture, server architecture, e-commerce platforms, data modeling
  Right Brain
SEM, creative strategy, social media, community management, WOM / buzz marketing, online memes, online brand stewardship

Contact Shannon

Shannon Swenson
Austin, Texas
512-472-3090 x1

hello [at] shannonswenson [dot] com