SEINIGER WANTS FILM DIRECTORS' IDEAS FOR LIVENING UP MLB

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The road to recovery for Major League Baseball leads through Hollywood.

Specifically, it leads into the driveway of MLB's new broadcast partner, Hollywood-based Fox Sports, and to the doorstep of Fox's Beverly Hills-based ad agency, Seiniger Advertising Group.

Not only are Fox and Seiniger plotting a youth-focused ad strategy to reinvigorate the graying MLB brand, but Seiniger intends to bring together noted Hollywood directors and high-level executives from MLB and its new broadcast partners-Fox, NBC and ESPN-for powwows on how to make game broadcasts more marketable to the MTV generation.

Tony Seiniger, whose agency is one of Hollywood's leading makers of movie ads and trailers, has already received commitments from Barry "The Natural" Levinson, a minority owner of the Baltimore Orioles, and Ron "Bull Durham" Shelton. Invitations will also be extended to Phil "Field of Dreams" Alden Robinson, Michael "The Bad News Bears" Ritchie and David "Major League" Ward.

Mr. Seiniger first brought the idea to executives at NBC Sports in the summer of 1994. The concept then was to gather the directors for several weekend sessions and compile their discussions and recommendations into a "bible" that would be presented to the network. Mr. Seiniger said the symposiums would cost $200,000 to stage. But the MLB labor dispute put a halt to any further talks.

A roadblock in bringing the original plan to fruition now is the cost; Mr. Seiniger has doubts that cost-conscious MLB and the nets would pony up the dough.

But if the symposiums can't be staged, then the directors will take their ideas directly to MLB and network executives in a series of more informal meetings.

The innovations that the directors have shared with Mr. Seiniger include affixing lightweight cameras onto batter's helmets or installing them into bases, providing player's-eye views of batting and base running.

Among other ideas are miking the players and using steadicams or dollies in foul ball areas to track base running between home and first and third and home.

Seiniger's primary mission, however, is to create Fox's on-air promos for baseball. The agency's assignment will be to sell baseball to the 12-to-34-year-old demographic.

According to Nielsen Media Research, the 1995 World Series delivered 40% more households than the '95 National Basketball Association finals, but the NBA delivered 10% more 18-to-34-year-olds than the World Series.

Mr. Seiniger wants to use Gen X icons "Beavis & Butt-Head" as baseball spokescharacters, and will approach MTV: Music Television before the end of the month to plead for permission. His dream, though, is to get a popular rock band, like Pearl Jam, to record a grunge rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."

Fox wants the first spots to hit in late December at the latest.

Marketers and MLB sponsors supported the youth-focused entertainment marketing tactics.

"Kids don't find much excitement in baseball," said Chuck Kremers, VP-marketing at True Value, which recently signed a three-year, $40 million sponsorship deal with MLB. "If anyone knows how to generate excitement, it's Hollywood, so it would be smart for MLB and the networks to go there for inspiration."

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