Rays ad campaign is “Call to Arms”… but does it go far enough?

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Cross-posted from Noah Pransky’s Shadow of the Stadium blog.

The Rays unveiled their 2014 ad campaign this week: “Rays Up,” with a specific focus on selling multi-game ticket “Flex Packs.”  Robert Trigaux of the Tampa Bay Times explains:

“Rays Up” is a clever play about an aspiring team that’s had 90-plus wins in each of the past four seasons, its first Cy Young winner (David Price) in 2012, and three Rookie of the Year winners (Evan Longoria, Jeremy Hellickson and Wil Myers) since 2008.

“Rays Up” also is a call to arms. The franchise hopes fans will rise up to support a quality team by attending more games. The Rays suffered the lowest attendance of any MLB team the past two seasons.

But as much as the slogan may be a subtle reminder for fans to support their local team, does it go far enough?

I’ve always wondered why the Rays haven’t tried an “us vs. the world” campaign.  You know, “we’re the small market guys…but if we band together, we can take on the Evil Empire!”  (Even the Red Sox capitalized on this a decade ago)

But instead of embracing their role as a small-market underdog, Rays ownership has spent too many years lamenting their profit-inhibiting stadium situation.  And whether its fair or not, many fans (and would-be fans) harbor feelings of resentment toward management.

For all Stu Sternberg has done with the Rays, he should be one of our community’s biggest heroes in the style of Mark Cuban or Jeff Vinik.  But because of the never-ending stadium campaign…and the distrust that surrounds it…many fans see him as a foe, rather than “one of them.”

Good news for the Rays is that is hasn’t totally stunted ticket sales; indications are the flex packs have been selling well.  But, an even more encouraging sign – something this blog has alluded to for years – is that the franchise is getting old enough that local Yankees and Red Sox fans are having kids who are die-hard Rays fans.  Trigaux continues:

At dozens upon dozens of Little Leagues around the Tampa Bay area, (Mark) Fernandez says, there’s heated competition over which team gets to call itself the Rays.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.