96-year series quest: Chicago marketers salute Cubs as Wrigleyville fever gains steam

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Windy city marketers are lining up to cheer on the Chicago Cubs, the lovable losers eager to end their 95-year quest for a World Series victory.

"It's amazing what a winning Cubs season does to the morale of not only our employees, but the people you see in the street. This is a Cubs town and Cubs fever is all over the place," said Mark Krieschen, VP-general manager of Tribune Co.'s WGN radio, which broadcasts the games. "We've added some incremental business in the first couple of playoff games and I assume that if the Cubs keep playing, these advertisers will want to stay on the radio." Tribune Co. also owns the team.

Even before Chicago's National League Baseball Club clinched the Central Division title Sept. 28, longtime advertising sponsors celebrated with the team at Wrigley Field. Before the game, Old Style beer handed $86,000-$1,000 for every win this season-to the team's charity, Cubs Care, as part of its "What would you do to see the Cubs win it all?" promotion.

"We thought it might [work] because of [Coach] Dusty Baker and the others and if [the Cubs lost], it would fit into the folklore," said Allan Willner, VP-marketing for the Pabst Brewing unit. When the Northsiders won, Old Style started production on four radio spots to run on WGN radio, commemorating the season. Marketing Werks, Chicago, created the promotion with the station, which created the radio spots.

Other tributes have run from local jeweler Rogers & Hollands and Cingular Wireless' central region. Cingular's ad in the Oct. 1 Chicago Tribune was headlined, "Hey, Hey, Chicago. Congratulations to our Chicago Cubs. From the wireless carrier who's been a fan for nearly 20 years. Cingular fits you best." The Rosen Group, Chicago, handled.

`next year is here'

Meanwhile at the Friendly Confines, Miller Brewing Co. sponsored a Miller Lite billboard that rotated customized messages throughout the season. At the beginning of the season, the sign said, "Next Year is Here," a mantra that has been repeated on handmade signs by fans and in sports stories. With the division win, Miller changed its sign to "Wait `Til Next Year October" with Next Year crossed out. Interpublic Group of Cos.' Zipatoni, St. Louis, created the billboard and has planned new executions for each series should the team progress.

To reinforce its "local bank" image, Harris Bank expanded its relationship with Tribune Co. by taking a team sponsorship over the next two to three years. Harris ran a congratulatory ad in the Chicago Tribune featuring Hubert the Lion wearing a team jersey with the line, "Good luck from your mane fan." Havas' Arnold Worldwide Partners, Chicago, handled.

"We're a hometown bank and we're supporting the hometown team," said Erin McInerney, exec VP-marketing for the 120-year-old bank.

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