Today while I was paging through the Sun-Times sports section, two items caught my eye, and neither was an autopsy of Beat-Down XLI.
One was an ad for the White Sox. The other was an ad for the Cubs.
The black and white, all-type Sox ad featured the team's '07 schedule and read, "We're on a mission from Guillen." The ad also introduced the Sox' new slogan, "Back to the grind." (Sounds like a re-fresh of their Grinder Ball theme from the past couple years.)
The Cubs ad, meanwhile, displayed a schedule and featured a shot of a uniformed Alfonso Soriano, bat cocked, and the headline, "Play like there's no tomorrow," which, I imagine, was deemed a shorter, catchier stand-in for "Play like the team will be up for sale as soon as we feel we've maximized its value."
Having had some contact with the Cubs' marketing department in recent years, I know the two teams advertise for very different reasons: the White Sox advertise to sell tickets; the Cubs advertise, first, to get their schedule in people's hands and second, to fulfill their obligation to marketing partners like Rawlings and Mitchell & Ness, who provide promotional give-away items.
There are other differences between the two marketing operations. For several years, the White Sox have employed a small, Chicago ad agency called Two-by-Four, which is one of the city's most creative and has produced some graphically beautiful ads on a shoestring budget. The Cubs have done all of their print advertising in-house, and it has been uniformly bland and workmanlike.
The '07 slogan, "Play like there's no tomorrow," is a departure from the Cubs' recent marketing campaigns, which have tended to glorify Wrigley Field and fans' personal, emotional connections to the building and the Cubs brand. It strikes me as a pretty risky theme line in that, if the team stinks, the line will leave the Wrigley Boys open to plenty of abuse, i.e., abuse above and beyond the abuse they would normally get for stinking.
"Play like there's no hope."
"Play like you want to play somewhere else in '08."
"Play like you want to make Lou Piniella homesick for Tropicana Field."
Feel free to join in.