Nationals

Ready to rumble: Super Bowl fans get in the game

Ready to rumble: Super Bowl fans get in the game

NEW YORK (AP) You don't have to be a football player to be a part of the action on Super Bowl Sunday.

Coca-Cola is asking people to vote for an online match between three groups competing in a desert for a Coke on Game Day. Pepsi and Toyota are using viewers' photos in their ads. Audi let people choose the end of its Super Bowl ad, while Lincoln based its spot on more 6,000 tweets from fans about their road trips.

These are just some ways advertisers have found to get viewers involved in the excitement on Game Day by luring them online. And they're going well beyond encouraging fans to tweet or ``like'' their ads on websites like Twitter Facebook.

They're trying to get the most of their Super Bowl ads, which cost nearly $4 million for a 30-second spot, by drawing people online. Companies that advertise during the Super Bowl get a 20 percent increase in Web traffic on the day of the game, according to the analytics arm of software maker Adobe. They also have a higher online audience than average in the week after.

``We're seeing better and more unique ways of getting people involved,'' said Robert Kolt, an advertising instructor at Michigan State University. ``You want people to be engaged.''

PepsiCo, which is sponsoring the Super Bowl halftime show, said its goal was to create buzz online with a monthlong campaign that went well beyond a voiceover saying ``brought to you by Pepsi.''

For about two weeks, Pepsi asked fans online and via a digital billboard in New York's Times Square to submit their photos for a chance to appear in a 30-second ``intro'' spot to air right before the halftime show.

The company said the effort was more popular than it expected: Pepsi expected to get 2,000 photos, but got 100,000 instead. About 1,000 photos were chosen to be a part of the intro. They will be stitched together in a ``flipbook'' style video that appears to show one person jumping to the tune of ``Countdown,'' a song by Beyonce, who is performing during the halftime show.

``We don't just want (viewers) on pepsi.com, we want them telling their friends `I just did something with Pepsi,'' said Angelique Krembs, vice president of trademark Pepsi marketing. ``You want the friend to tell the friend about Pepsi. You don't want Pepsi to always be the one talking about Pepsi.''

Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln enlisted Jimmy Fallon, host of NBC's ``Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,'' to sift through thousands of tweets submitted by fans about road trips for its Super Bowl spot.

The story line for the 30-second ad, which was developed from 6,117 tweets, features rapper Joseph ``Rev Run'' Simmons and Wil Wheaton, who acted in the iconic science-fiction series ``Star Trek: The Next Generation.''

``We drove passed an alpaca farm, a few of them were meandering on the highway and my sister screamed, ``It's the Alpacalypse!,'' reads one tweet.

``Drove through a movie set in Palmdale, Calif., and didn't realize it. Got out and enjoyed the catered food,'' reads another tweet.

Coca-Cola created an online game that pits a troupe of showgirls, biker-style ``badlanders'' and cowboys against each other in a race to find a Coke in the desert. Viewers are encouraged to vote for their favorite group and set up obstacles that delay other groups on CokeChase.com. Obstacles include a traffic light or getting a pizza delivered, which waste time.

The game is alluded to in a Super Bowl ad and the winning group - which has the most ``for'' votes and the least ``obstacle'' votes will be announced after the game. Coke will also give the first 50,000 people who vote a free Coke. The campaign is more interactive than Coca-Cola's online effort last year, which featured a real-time animation of Polar Bears reacting to what was happening during the Super Bowl.

``Last year's effort was much more passive. It was you watching bears watching the game,'' said Pio Schunker, senior vice president of integrated marketing. ``This year we thought, `Can we up ante on the fun factor by handing the reins over to consumers?'''

Audi let viewers choose one of three possible endings for its Game Day spot by voting online on Jan. 25 for 24 hours.

The ad shows a boy who gets enough confidence from driving his father's Audi to the prom to kiss his dream girl, even though he is then decked by her boyfriend. Audi allowed people to vote for one of three potential endings for the ad.

In one possible ending, the boy drives home alone in triumphant. Another ending shows him palling around with friends. The third shows the boy going home and finding a prom picture of his parents in which his dad has a similar black eye.

The first ending, called ``Worth it,'' won.

Audi, which declined to say how many people voted, said ``Worth It,'' was by far the most popular, getting more than half of the total views and the most ``thumbs up'' out of all three versions

``This year, Audi wanted to elevate fan interaction by allowing them to take part in the creative process and have a voice in how our spot should end,'' said Loren Angelo, Audi's general manager of brand marketing. ``

The strategy seems to be working. On YouTube, the Audi ad is the third-most viewed Super Bowl ad so far, with 2.5 million views, behind a Toyota ad staring Kaley Cuoco of CBS' ``The Big Bang Theory'' and a teaser for Mercedes-Benz featuring supermodel Kate Upton, according to YouTube.com

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Online:

Coca-Cola ``Coke Chase'' campaign: www.cokechase.com

Pepsi's ``Halftime'' campaign:http://halftime.pepsi.com/

Toyota's ``Wish Granted'' ad:http://www.youtube.com/user/ToyotaUSA?feature=watch

Ford's Lincoln ``Steer the Script'' campaign:http://www.steerthescript.com/

Audi's ``Prom'' ad:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ANhmS6QLd5Q

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The forgotten home run: Kurt Suzuki’s go-ahead blast in Game 2 of the World Series

The forgotten home run: Kurt Suzuki’s go-ahead blast in Game 2 of the World Series

The Nationals and Astros were in the midst of a pitching duel between two all-time greats.

Stephen Strasburg and Justin Verlander had each tossed six frames with just two runs allowed. Verlander took the mound for the top of the seventh to face the bottom of the Nationals’ lineup. 36-year-old catcher Kurt Suzuki stepped up the plate 1-for-2 with a single on the night.

On his 100th pitch, Verlander threw a 1-0 fastball over the heart of the plate and Suzuki got every bit of it. With a smooth uppercut, Suzuki sent a pitch 381 feat off the facing of the brick wall above the leftfield seats at Minute Maid Park. It silenced the crowd of 43,357 and gave Washington the momentum it so desperately needed.

It was a moment that could’ve lived in Nationals lore forever, had the team gone on to win a nail-biter. But the Nationals’ offense exploded, scoring nine more runs over the next three innings to blow out the Astros 12-3 in front of their home crowd. Adam Eaton and Michael Taylor joined the home run parade. Every starter not named Victor Robles ended up reaching base at least twice.

Three months later, Suzuki was at the Nationals’ annual WinterFest event at their home stadium. He sat down with NBC Sports Washington’s Nationals Talk crew and reflected on his big moment getting buried under the offensive onslaught his team brought upon Houston.

“Honestly, I was hoping we’d score a ton of runs because I didn’t want to play a nerve-wracking game,” Suzuki said. “I wanted it to be a nice, easy win, go right back into it and to tell you the truth, when I hit that home run it was just like—I was just so in shock that I was just like, ‘Oh, I just hit a home run. Cool, we’re winning. Like, what?’

“You weren’t just really like, ‘Ahh, this is so exciting.’ You’re just kind of in shock that I’ve hit a home run in the World Series and it gave us the lead in the seventh inning. It was pretty neat.”

CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN TO KURT SUZUKI'S FULL INTERVIEW ON THE NATIONALS TALK PODCAST

It may not be an iconic moment in Nationals history, but Suzuki’s home run brought the team one step closer to winning the World Series. It was without a doubt the biggest hit of his career.

"It feels great," Suzuki told reporters after the game. "I've waited 13 seasons for this moment to be able to play in the World Series. I kind of joked with a lot of the guys, Anthony [Rendon] in the training room, 'Now I've got energy now.' This is the last series of the season now, no matter what. We're playing for it now. If you can't get up for these games, I think you're in the wrong sport, you should retire or something, because this is it."

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One important thing that Ron Rivera will bring to the Redskins, according to an NFL agent

One important thing that Ron Rivera will bring to the Redskins, according to an NFL agent

What will Ron Rivera bring to the Redskins in 2020 and beyond (well, besides lots of people who worked with him in Carolina)? That's a question everyone's trying to figure out.

Many are hoping for more wins, obviously. Washington's been one of the league's worst franchises for the past decade, while Rivera was a two-time Coach of the Year with the Panthers who made it to the playoffs four times in nine seasons there.

Beyond that, however, there's an expectation that Rivera can also elevate the Burgundy and Gold's day-to-day operations, making the organization more professional, consistent and stable — words that haven't been used to describe their operations in a long time.

In an interview with the Redskins Talk podcast, longtime NFL agent Andy Ross spoke to that second point.

"I will say this," Ross, who reps players such as Morgan Moses and Taysom Hill, told the podcast. "The one thing that Ron really instilled in the players, because I've had players on Carolina, was accountability. These are young men that are growing into men, so he wants to teach them to be strong men, be strong leaders. And I think that's something he's going to bring into Washington."

CLICK BELOW TO LISTEN TO THE FULL INTERVIEW WITH ANDY ROSS ON THE REDSKINS TALK PODCAST

The 2019 campaign was beyond chaotic for the Redskins, and one of its major turning points came when Dan Snyder made the decision to fire Jay Gruden after five straight losses to open the year. One of the most popular criticisms of Gruden was a lack of accountability. According to Ross, that won't occur now that Rivera's in charge.

The 58-year-old also possesses another quality that'll be incredibly valuable as he tries to turn around the Redskins, a place that's been plagued by distractions, leaks and fracturing season after season.

"He doesn't allow the outside influence to affect his football team," Ross said. "So I think you're going to see, with the Redskins going forward, that everything is going to be really kept in-house."

Rivera's reputation precedes him. Right after he was hired by Snyder, in fact, Panthers defensive lineman Gerald McCoy said he would tell players in Washington that "one of the best things in your career is about to happen."

Ross is yet another person to echo that kind of praise for the head coach. With each passing day, it sounds more and more like the Redskins landed someone with an approach that's precisely what everyone involved with the team needs.

"They have some really good, young talent," Ross concluded. "And I think he's really going to mold a lot of these young players into really strong men, and that should be good for the culture."

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