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."

Dusty Baker takes the fall for Nationals meltdown against Cubs

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USA TODAY

Dusty Baker takes the fall for Nationals meltdown against Cubs

The Washington Nationals must have been sitting at home, watching the National League Championship Series and wondering: How did we lose to this team?

The Cubs poured so much physical effort, mental focus and emotional energy into those five playoff games against the Nationals that they didn’t have much left in the tank for the bigger, better Los Angeles Dodgers team that dominated the defending World Series champs in every phase and captured the NL pennant on Thursday night at Wrigley Field.

By midday Friday, the Nationals announced that manager Dusty Baker will not return for the 2018 season, while the contracts for the big-league coaching staff have also expired, leaving a franchise with chain-of-command issues in damage-control mode.

This is a bitter disappointment for Baker, who needs a World Series ring as a manager to put the final bullet point on a Hall of Fame resume and still grumbles about how things ended in 2006 after four up-and-down years managing the Cubs.

Baker, 68, a former Marine, All-Star player and all-around Renaissance man with a great feel for dealing with people and managing the clubhouse, apparently couldn’t overcome last week’s elimination-game meltdown at Nationals Park, where the Cubs hung on for a 9-8 victory and forced Washington into its fourth first-round playoff exit since 2012.

Baker’s in-game decision-making was already under the microscope and his teams have now lost 10 straight postseason close-out games, a major-league record, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

The Nationals also needlessly subjected Stephen Strasburg to withering criticism when Baker said the $175 million pitcher was feeling under the weather — maybe because of Chicago mold and hotel air-conditioning units — and being saved for Game 5. Only to flip-flop and watch Strasburg throw seven scoreless innings in a dominant Game 4 performance at Wrigley Field.

That unforced error and yet another manager search is not a good look for the Nationals, who made the announcement through the Lerner family ownership group after general manager Mike Rizzo repeatedly signaled that he expected to reach a new agreement with Baker after winning 192 games combined in two years and back-to-back division titles.

Since the franchise relocated from Montreal and abandoned the Expos logo in 2005, the Nationals have employed seven different managers and will be starting all over again in 2018, when Bryce Harper will be in his last season before becoming a free agent and probably wondering if Washington can finally get its act together.

What now for the Cubs?

What now for the Cubs?

OK, time to turn the page.

Nah, it doesn't have to be that sudden.

The 2017 Cubs season may not have resulted in a World Series, but it was absolutely a smashing success. There was a time not long ago that playing — and even losing — in the fifth game of the NLCS was a huge step.

But the Cubs now have a World-Series-or-bust mentality now and the 2017 season did not live up to those expectations.

"We're capable of more than we showed in the postseason," Ben Zobrist said.

So what now? What's next for these Cubs?

Well, quite literally: Rest. Rest is next.

"For those guys that are playing every day, they need to take the time that they need to take," Zobrist said. "Take the three weeks, month to let your body relax and heal up.

"I think from there, it's listening to your body for them. For me, I'm in a different place. I didn't play as many games as I normally play. I feel like my stamina, I have to work on my endurance and stamina to get back up to where it needs to get to where I'm capable of playing more games and not getting injuries and things like that like I had this year.

"...[Kris Bryant] and [Anthony] Rizzo, they were our horses and so they need to take more time than somebody like me does going into the offseason. They deserve to get some rest and relaxation. I think we're all very motivated going into the offseason to get back to where we're capable of playing as a team."

Other players have a different attitude as they approach the winter.

Albert Almora Jr., after his first full season in the big leagues, is anxious to get better. Immediately.

The young outfielder is planning on spending a lot of time hanging out with his wife and one-year-old son, but he isn't interested in all that much rest right now.

"[I plan] to get back to work," Almora said. "I think we have a big chip on our shoulder coming into next year."

Rizzo and Bryant, meanwhile, played 167 and 161 games, respectively, including the postseason. They combined for over 1,500 plate appearances from April 2 through Oct. 19.

Neither player has much interest in watching the Los Angeles Dodgers play either the Houston Astros or New York Yankees in the World Series.

So what will they do?

"It's always tough," Rizzo said after the Cubs were officially eliminated. "You start a journey with all these guys and at the end of the day, these last couple days, you don't take anything for granted at all.

"The stretch, the cage work. Yesterday could've been our last day. Today's obviously our last day. We gotta enjoy these moments because you don't know how long they last.

"But you make a lot of friendships along the way. This next week will be tough and kinda scratching your head on what to do."