Cashing in on the Jays

Everyone knows the Blue Jays won.After 11 tense, error-filled innings in the heart of Dixie, the Americans and Latin Americans who make up the Toronto Blue Jays gave baseball fans in Canada their first World Series winner to cheer, knocking off...

Everyone knows the Blue Jays won.

After 11 tense, error-filled innings in the heart of Dixie, the Americans and Latin Americans who make up the Toronto Blue Jays gave baseball fans in Canada their first World Series winner to cheer, knocking off the Atlanta Braves 4-2 in six games.

They also gave team owner Labatt and their various sponsors, advertisers and broadcasters enough to smile about until spring training next year, and probably much longer.

With this World Series victory, the Blue Jays have become Canada’s, perhaps the continent’s, sports marketing vehicle non-pareil.

Here’s a look at some early returns on the win:

Some Canadians – Blue Jay fans, media pundits, nationalist cranks – took considerable umbrage at the Maple Leaf being flown upside down at the second World Series game in Atlanta.

Even a u.s.-owned Toronto ad agency got into the act.

Scali McCabe Sloves (Canada) handed out more than 10,000 cardboard Canadian flags at SkyDome with the words ‘This Side Up’ written at the top to welcome the Atlanta Braves to their first game in Toronto – and made sure a few made their way to the press.

Scali’s flag giveaway also made the front page of USA Today.

Whatever would happen if heavy metal madman Ozzie Osbourne, who apparently urinated on The Alamo after a concert in Texas, tried the same thing with the CN Tower?

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For Toronto’s all-sports radio station cjcl, the World Series was a publicity bonanza.

John Rea, general manager of the newly formatted station, says the baseball championship accomplished what advertising never could.

‘[The World Series] is a wonderful new promotional device,’ Rea says. ‘It brings new people into the tent.’

He says cjcl, known by its nickname, The Fan 1430, pre-sells baseball’s playoffs and the World Series packaged with the station’s regular complement of Blue Jays games.

He says the success of the club this year brings higher rates for advertisers next year.

According to Rea, a Blue Jays game on cjcl any given week draws a cumulative audience of 500,000, suggesting that will double for the World Series.

He says the cumulative audience for a World Series game on the Telemedia radio network, of which cjcl is a part, should be more than two million.

Rea bases his estimates on the numbers from last year’s American League Championship playoffs between the Toronto club and eventual World Series champs, the Minnesota Twins.

cjcl will provide about 40% to 45% of that network audience, he says.

Rea says he does not expect everyone listening to the World Series on his radio station will stay tuned now the games are over, but suggests they will return to The Fan for their sports entertainment.

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Toronto may never field another World Series team, so the Metropolitan Toronto Convention and Visitors Bureau took advantage of continent-wide attention.

John Hamilton, communications manager of the association, says the publicity for the city is even more important than the World Series’ economic impact.

Hamilton says the association sent a feature story on Toronto to 8,000 u.s. medium and small media outlets.

As well, it worked with the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Recreation to provide footage of the city to u.s. tv stations for inclusion in their World Series broadcasts.

Hamilton says the association also targetted the 600 reporters in Toronto for the baseball games, blanketing them with information about the city and its environs.

Also, he says certain out-of-town reporters and editors were given tickets to attend the games.

‘It’s schmoozing, basically,’ Hamilton says.

cbs’ premier morning news program, This Morning, also broadcast a weather report live from SkyDome, the entertainment palace on Lake Ontario and home stadium of the Blue Jays.

Hamilton says visitors in Toronto for the World Series were expected to spend $3.58 million for each game played at SkyDome.

He says the association arrived at that amount after running Blue Jays-supplied figures through a computer model.

He says the baseball club claims 20% of the 55,000 fans at each game at SkyDome for the World Series were visitors, although the Blue Jays did not say where they were visiting from.

How well the city did from the World Series will not be known until the first week of December when all the numbers are in, he says.

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The Blue Jays’ World Series appearances were wildly popular with Canadian fans.

But, and obviously to cbs’ dismay, lovers of baseball in the u.s. were not impressed with a team based in the Great White North.

For the first game in Atlanta, cbs drew 15.6% of all u.s. homes with tv sets, one of the lowest-rated games in the history of televised World Series baseball, and down 12% from last year’s first game between Atlanta and the Minnesota Twins, the eventual champs.

For the second game, also in Atlanta, cbs had a rating of 20.2%, down 7% from last year’s second game.

Canadian viewers, watching the World Series simulcast by the CTV Television Network, are not counted in national A.C. Nielsen ratings in the u.s.

Toronto alone has a larger tv market than Washington, d.c., the seventh-largest in the u.s.

In u.s. viewer measurement, one rating point equals 921,000 households.

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The World Series was a ratings smash for the CTV Television Network, which simulcast cbs’ broadcast of the games.

David Strickland, director of sports properties marketing for ctv, says the final numbers for all six games will not be in for another two to three weeks.

But Strickland says the first five games had an average 5.5 million viewers per audience minute and an audience reach of 11.2 million viewers.

And, he says even these exceptional figures were kept down by out-of-home viewing in bars, restaurants and the like.

There were too, he notes, more than 40,000 fans at SkyDome watching the final game on its Jumbotron video screen, and another 250,000 who spilled onto the streets of Toronto after the final out.

Strickland says on Oct. 22, when the Blue Jays could have clinched the series in front of hometown fans, ctv simulcast figures showed a 6.8-million average minute audience and a 12.8-million audience reach.

He says the 6.8-million figure drew as well as anything shown on the network, predicting the World Series ratings will stay a network ‘high-water mark for a long time to come.’

Strickland says ctv’s deal with cbs this year will be repeated next year.

Some baseball pundits are already tipping the Blue Jays to repeat as World Series champs, emulating the last team to do it, the New York Yankees in 1977 and 1978.

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Coca-Cola was just one of the many companies quick off the mark with a Blue Jays tie-in.

The soft drink maker produced five million ‘limited edition’ commemorative cans of Coca-Cola Classic for Toronto retailers.

The cans feature the Blue Jays, World Series and Major League Baseball logos.

Coca-Cola has been the official soft drink of the Blue Jays since the club’s beginning 16 years ago.

Coke also had a 90-second and a 45-second commercial running on the Jumbotron for the third, fourth and fifth games of the series.

The two spots came from McCann-Erickson Advertising in Toronto, Coca-Cola Classic’s shop.

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Labatt Breweries of Canada, part of the John Labatt beer, food and entertainment conglomerate that owns 90% of the Blue Jays, used the World Series to create a footnote in Canadian telecommunications history.

Labatt launched its World Series contest using Bell Canada’s 1-900 service, its first promotion-oriented test.

The brewery placed newspaper ads in Vancouver, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Toronto and Saskatoon, encouraging readers to call a 1-900 number and win tickets to see the Blue Jays play the Braves in Toronto in game four of the series.

In four days, more than 40,000 calls had been racked up.