Indiana Jones Slides into MLB.com Team Schedules

Official Major League Baseball team sites have long been home for entertainment advertisers promoting sports flicks. A campaign for Paramount’s upcoming Indiana Jones movie is among the few non-sports film related efforts seen on MLB.com and its 30 team sites. And after launching Friday, one unique component of the campaign already has the Web chattering.

Baseball fans checking their favorite team’s schedules for the month of May this past weekend were surprised to find Harrison Ford in his signature adventure hero getup peering up at them from the May 22nd calendar slot.

“This is the first time we’ve had creative in the schedule section,” said Jason Klein, MLB.com’s VP corporate partnerships for the Western region, adding, “It kind of jumps out at you.” Tiny non-branded icons in some team schedules also link to deals on Continental Airlines flights and stays at Holiday Inn hotels, though.

The character’s iconic image links nowhere, though the young men frequenting MLB sites are bound to have heard by now that “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” is coming to theaters soon. Now they know when.

“It seemed like such a perfect fit because people are constantly checking the schedule,” continued Klein. He added that teams prefer to have game schedule links limited to ticket sales pages.

Display ads for the “Living Legends” sweepstakes are placed across MLB sites. Visitors to the main sweepstakes page can view a trailer of the film and enter the name of their favorite active major leaguer for a chance to win a trip to see him on the field, along with tickets to see the Indiana Jones movie. The campaign runs through May 25.

The advertiser “wanted to focus on the legend of Indiana Jones,” explained Klein. MLB.com will also push the contest through e-mail newsletters and editorial coverage.

Sweepstakes promotions and pre-roll video ads are the most popular formats for advertisers on MLB sites, MLB.com VP, Sponsorships Scott Norwood told ClickZ News in March. The sweepstakes promos typically are used to generate sales leads and e-mail addresses; in this case, the goal is to collect names and contact info to promote Paramount movies and MLB.com offerings.

“We’ve had to struggle getting studios to look at us for anything but a sports movie,” Klein said, noting film advertisers tend to “look at things vertically,” and buy ads in endemic content. “Our audience are guys that like to go to movies,” stressed Klein.

“The demographics of the core portion of our traffic fit right in there with men who are vying for entertainment options,” said Matthew Gould, MLB advanced media’s VP, corporate communications.

In no time, the promo spurred Web buzz about the movie and the calendar ads themselves. One witty post about the bullwhip-wielding archaeologist to Fark.com, a news aggregator site popular with younger men, stated, “I’ve heard he has an awesome WHIP.” WHIP is a stat used to gauge pitching prowess.

Klein looks forward to launching similar campaigns on behalf of other non-sports related flicks. “We hope to do this with other studios,” he said.

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