The World Series of Cause Marketing

The winner of the 2011 World Series will be determined tonight at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. But four causes, recognized during the first four games of the Series, have already won the big spotlight that the Fall Classic brings. Those causes are: Welcome Back Veterans; the Roberto Clemente Award; Boys and Girls Clubs of America; and Stand Up to Cancer.

Each was separately highlighted during the 2011 Series.

This is no small thing. Game 2, for instance, had 14.69 million viewers. Not quite ‘Dancing With the Stars’ numbers, but respectable given the two teams playing for the Championship this year.

The cause featured in Game 2 was the awarding of the 2011 Roberto Clemente Legacy award to David Ortiz, the designated hitter of the Boston Red Sox. The Roberto Clemente Award recognizes the MLB player who “best represents the game of baseball through positive contributions on and off the field.”

That’s video of Ortiz being recognized before the start of the game at the left. There was a little more to it than what’s shown in the video, but not much.

Indeed, every week during football season in college and professional stadiums across the country similar awards are given at halftime to students-athletes, community leaders, or alumni who have done their alma mater proud.

The major difference is that Chevrolet is footing the bill for the Roberto Clemente Award. And, of course, Game 2 had those 14.69 million television viewers.

Because such awards happen so frequently and because they always take the same approach, they’re almost unwatchable for anyone who isn’t personally involved. Both in the stadium, and on television. And, of course, they’re forgotten almost as soon as they’re over.

Roberto Clemente was a famous humanitarian. He died December 31, 1972 in an airline crash trying to deliver relief supplies to the victims of the massive Managua, Nicaragua earthquake that had happened earlier in December. His remains were never found.

So imagine if instead of showing Ortiz behind the statue of Clemente shaking hands with MLB and Chevrolet officials that instead they told the story of someone who has been helped by Ortiz doing whatever it is that won him the award.

Remember, people don’t get worked up over statistics of millions of people in jeopardy. Or, for that matter, millions of people helped. What moves them are the narratives… the stories… of individuals.

Imagine if Chevy and MLB offered a ‘Roberto Clemente Fellowship’ to a few hundred young fans to spend three months or six months doing service in rural Latin America, where Clemente did so much humanitarian work... and where MLB gets so many of its best players these days. Now imagine that their stories were told to MLB's fanbase.

Imagine if Chevy offered to match donations that TV viewers made via their cell phones to the ‘Roberto Clemente Memorial Education Fund’ to build schools in rural Latin America.

Imagine if MLB really wanted to get innovative with its cause partners and come up with something better than a static award presentation.

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