A SIGN OF THE (L.A.) TIMES: TRYING TO GET IN-N-OUT WITH DROP-IN ADS CAN BE NUTTY
By Tom Hoffarth
Angels fans may have been going nuts listening to an inconsequential late-September game in Oakland, one that would end in a 21-3 loss. Right about the eighth inning, an Angels hitter fouled a pitch off, breaking his bat, and there was a long pause as he walked back to the dugout to find a new stick.
Actually, it was.
Mark Gubicza, the Angels’ game analyst on the KLAA-AM (830) radio broadcast, grabbed a sheet and started a live commercial read for Wonderful Pistachios — the company bought sponsorship for any such cracked- or broken-bat occurrence this season. And the ad’s tagline: “Let’s get crackin’.”
“I didn’t know there are so many sponsor reads during radio games,” said Gubicza, whose normal gig the last dozen years has been in the Fox Sports West TV booth. “After a while it can get kind of hilarious, like that one. You try to incorporate them so they’re fun, and you’re having a good time with them.”
Clever, corny or even a little cockamamie, you find there is an art to what is called the live drop-in. Particularly those predicated on a specific thing happening on the field during live action.
Here’s more from our recent post in the L.A. Times.
And come extra material from other interviews we did:
- Pete Weber, the former Kings’ broadcaster currently doing NHL games in Nashville, recalled when he did minor-league baseball in Albuquerque, it was always an odd fit when there was a pitching change sponsored by a local paint company.
“You’d have to say, ‘manager Terry Collins would like to paint a different story so now it’s time to go to the bullpen and Ask Sherwin-Williams,” said Weber.
In the 1990s when he was doing Buffalo Bills’ NFL games, if a player was injured on the field, Weber would do a promo: “Don’t forget to call Cellino and Barnes, your local injury attorneys. That’s when they were first starting.”
Recently, he and Predators analyst Terry Crisp had to do a drop-in ad promoting a team cornhole tournament.
“You want us to say that in public?” Weber asked? “We were very deliberate in trying not to giggle or laugh in that one. We didn’t need to explain it, thank God.”
Weber says he also remembers a line from Eli Gold, the voice of Alabama football: “I can’t even fart unless it’s for 700 bucks. ‘That gas explosion brought to you by …’ “
- Lakers radio play-by-play man John Ireland relayed this one about a half-court shot promotion that the Lakers did at the end of the third quarter.
“For years, that shot has been sponsored by MGM/Mirage, or as they sometimes put it, ‘M-Life,’ which is the name of the MGM Resorts loyalty program. So a fan is picked to shoot a half court shot, and if it goes in, they win the jackpot. The jackpot increases each game, and can get pretty big by the end of the year if somebody makes it.
“One year, somebody did, and we were so stunned that it went in, we interviewed the guy and only mentioned MGM once. My boss called me and said, ‘Next time, make sure you refer to that shot as the ‘MGM Mirage M-Life Shot’ more than once.’
“His point was solid–they sponsor that shot every game, and it’s rare if it goes in, so make sure you pay it off if it does.
“Fast forward to a year or two later: Another fan hits the half court shot. Again, we were stunned. But it was in our heads to give MGM Mirage some love. So Mychal and I are calling the game, and the Lakers bring the fan up to our broadcast site so we can talk to him on the air. I’m not kidding — we talked to this guy for five or six minutes, and we dropped ‘MGM, ‘Mirage’ and ‘M-Life’ at least 25 times. It was like a tongue-twister game. And we just nailed it. I wish I would have saved it, because it would make you laugh.
“I doubt MGM ever gives up that particular sponsorship, because now they know it’s a windfall if the shot goes in.”
- Phil Rosenthal, the longtime TV critic of the Chicago Tribune, formerly of the Los Angeles Daily News, passed on this story he did after the Chicago Cubs won the 2016 World Series: Cubs radio broadcaster Pat Hughes remembered to give a shout out to sponsor State Farm insurance as the team was celebrating its victory.
“It’s never felt better to fly the W,” Hughes said. “Congratulations 2016 world champions from a proud partner of the Chicago Cubs, State Farm. Great scene on the field, bear hugs, absolute joy. The Cubs have done it, their first world title since 1908.”
Mitch Rosen, operations manager of The Score, said on Thursday the State Farm bit stemmed from the company being “a great partner of the Cubs and a great partner of ours” and that it was sufficiently separated from Hughes’ championship call.
The insurance company then sponsored the trophy tour through the city.
- Ideas for other ads?
In baseball, the exit velocity read of a home run could go to SpaceX, or even Southwest (“Want to get away?”) Airlines. A strike out brought to you by Circle K. The mounting pitch count goes to the 99 Cent Store trying to Keep it 100.
The California Earthquake Authority insurance company might invest in the mention of an overzealous defensive infield shift than in sponsoring the “Shake-Up Play of the Game” as it does now on the Dodgers’ post-game show.
More? A Dodger Stadium blackout could go to a solar power company. Another sewage backup that comes onto the field – pick a local plumber.
But don’t go as far as a player in a college football game getting flagged for targeting. Brought to you by Target department store.