Cubs

A new angle for Super Bowl advertisers

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A new angle for Super Bowl advertisers

From Comcast SportsNet
NEW YORK (AP) -- Call it the "second-screen" Super Bowl. About two-thirds of smartphone and tablet owners use their gadgets to do things like text or post on Twitter while watching TV, according to research firm Nielsen. So, for Sunday's game, companies from Coke to Chevy are trying to reach fans on all the "second screens" they have. Chevrolet rolled out the first Super Bowl smartphone app that allows Big Game watchers to enter a contest to win everything from pizza to a new Camaro. Kia is the first company to show its Super Bowl ad ahead of the game in movie theaters. And Coca Cola set up a Facebook page and website so viewers can see its animated polar bears -- one cheering for the New England Patriots and the other for the New York Giants -- reacting to the game in real time. "The world is changing," says Pio Schunker, Coca Cola's vice president for creative excellence. "We needed to come to the party with something new and different." Advertisers have big incentives to stand out. With more than 111 million viewers expected to tune into the game, the Super Bowl is by far the biggest stage for marketers. It's also not cheap -- NBC is charging an average of 3.5 million for a 30-second spot. And the competition is fierce: there will be more than 70 TV ads during the Super Bowl battling for attention. To create buzz, it's no longer enough for marketers to simply get people talking at the water cooler the morning after the game. They also want to engage the people who like reacting to big events like the Super Bowl by posting on Twitter or Facebook or texting their friends, says David Berkowitz, vice president at digital marketing agency 360i. "People are glued to their digital devices, sometimes sharing far more that way than they are with others in the same room," says Berkowitz, whose firm created Coke's online Super Bowl campaign. "Being social means something very different now." About a dozen companies have put up their Super Bowl spots on video-sharing website YouTube this year, up from a handful last year. The amount companies have spent on sponsoring Youtube's Ad Blitz, a site for Super Bowl ads, has doubled compared with last year although it declined to say by how much. And in another sign that marketers are trying to engage viewers over social media web sites: USA Today's Ad Meter, which ranks the popularity of ads, is for the first time allowing viewers to vote for their favorite spot on Facebook. "This year, we're seeing a whole new level of social media activity for Super Bowl advertisers," said Tim Calkins, clinical professor of marketing at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. This is the first year that advertisers have tapped into the growing number of users of iPhones and other smartphones during the Super Bowl. In its ads, domain-name hosting site Godaddy.com will feature a QR code, a black and white two-dimensional code that people can scan by putting their smartphones up to the TV so they can go to the company's website. This is a first for a Super Bowl ad. Chevy's free smartphone app for the Super Bowl, called Chevy Game Time, allows people to enter a contest to win prizes from Chevy and other Super Bowl advertisers, including Bridgestone and Motorola. Users also will get a code. If the code matches the license plates in Chevy ads during the game, they win one of 20 cars being given away, including the Camaro, Silverado and Sonic. App users can also answer trivia questions or polls to win prizes. Other advertisers are going after the laptop and tablet crowd. As part of Toyota's Super Bowl campaign to showcase its "reinvented" Camry, the company is asking Twitter users to use the hashtag, or search term, "(hash)Reinvented," to post or "Tweet" about what other kinds of products should be reinvented. Some will get a response back with an illustration of the "reinvented" product. Volkswagen released a teaser of its 60-second Super Bowl ad on YouTube.com. The ad, which shows dogs in "Star Wars" costumes barking the "Imperial March" song, was released on the site on Jan. 18 and has 10 million views. Volkswagen also created a dedicated Super Bowl on its Facebook page. For all their attempts to reach people on their "second screens," Calkins, the marketing professor, says advertisers won't know what works until Game Day. "The question is which of the advertisers will really manage to connect on the day of the Super Bowl," Calkins said. "It's never entirely clear which ones are going to stand out."

When Kyle Schwarber met new Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis: 'I don't suck'

When Kyle Schwarber met new Cubs hitting coach Chili Davis: 'I don't suck'

MESA, Ariz. — The first thing Kyle Schwarber told his new hitting coach?

"His first statement to me is, 'I don't suck.'"

The Cubs hired Chili Davis as the team's new hitting coach for myriad reasons. He's got a great track record from years working with the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics, and that .274/.360/.451 slash line during an illustrious 19-year big league career certainly helps.

But Davis' main immediate task in his new gig will be to help several of the Cubs' key hitters prove Schwarber's assessment correct.

Schwarber had a much-publicized tough go of things in 2017. After he set the world on fire with his rookie campaign in 2015 and returned from what was supposed to be a season-ending knee injury in time to be one of the Cubs' World Series heroes in 2016, he hit just .211 last season, getting sent down to Triple-A Iowa for a stint in the middle of the season. Schwarber still hit 30 home runs, but his 2017 campaign was seen as a failure by a lot of people.

Enter Davis, who now counts Schwarber as one of his most important pupils.

"He's a worker," Davis said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "Schwarbs, he knows he's a good player. His first statement to me is, 'I don't suck.' He said last year was just a fluke year. He said, 'I've never failed in my life.' And he said, 'I'm going to get back to the player that I was.'

"I think he may have — and this is my thought, he didn't say this to me — I think it may have been, he had a big World Series, hit some homers, and I think he tried to focus on being more of a home run type guy as opposed to being a good hitter.

"His focus has changed. I had nothing to do with that, he came in here with that focus that he wants to be a good hitter first and let whatever happens happen. And he's worked on that. The main thing with Kyle is going to be is just maintaining focus."

The physically transformed Schwarber mentioned last week that he's established a good relationship with Davis, in no small part because Schwarber can relate to what Davis went through when he was a player. And to hear Davis tell it, it sounds like he's describing Schwarber's first three years as a big leaguer to a T.

"Telling him my story was important because it was similar," Davis said. "I was a catcher, got to big league camp, and I was thrown in the outfield. And I hated the outfield. ... But I took on the challenge. I made the adjustment, I had a nice first year, then my second year I started spiraling. I started spiraling down, and I remember one of my coaches saying, 'I'm going to have to throw you a parachute just so you can land softly.' I got sent down to Triple-A at the All-Star break for 15 days.

"When I got sent down, I was disappointed, but I was also really happy. I needed to get away from the big league pressure and kind of find myself again. I went home and refocused myself and thought to myself, 'I'm going to come back as Chili.' Because I tried to change, something changed about me the second year.

"And when I did that, I came back the next year and someone tried to change me and I said, 'Pump the breaks a little bit, let me fail my way, and then I'll come to you if I'm failing.' And they understood that, and I had a nice year, a big year and my career took off.

"I'm telling him, 'Hey, let last year go. It happened, it's in the past. Keep working hard, maintain your focus, and you'll be fine.'"

Getting Schwarber right isn't Davis' only task, of course. Despite the Cubs being one of the highest-scoring teams in baseball last season, they had plenty of guys go through subpar seasons. Jason Heyward still has yet to find his offensive game since coming to Chicago as a high-priced free agent. Ben Zobrist was bothered by a wrist injury last season and put up the worst numbers of his career. Addison Russell had trouble staying healthy, as well, and saw his numbers dip from what they were during the World Series season in 2016.

So Davis has plenty of charges to work with. But he likes what he's seen so far.

"They work," Davis said. "They come here to work. I had a group of guys in Boston that were the same last year, and it makes my job easier. They want to get better, they come out every day, they show up, they want to work. They're excited, and I'm excited to be around them.

And what have the Cubs found out about Davis? Just about everyone answers that question the same way: He likes to talk.

"I'm not going to stop talking," he said. "If I stop talking, something's wrong."

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

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USA TODAY

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Adam Burish and Pat Boyle discuss which Blackhawks could be on the trading block and what players are building blocks for the Hawks future.

Burish also shares a couple memorable trade deadline days and his “near” return to the Blackhawks in 2012. Plus, he makes his bold trade deadline prediction for the Hawks.

Listen to the full Blackhawks Talk Podcast right here: