Hustle, Heart, and Desperation

The constant bombardment of advertisements and a constant stream of not-so-subtle invitations to spend money someplace are a fact of modern life. It is what it is; we can only arm ourselves with a healthy dose of cynicism if we hope to survive.

A simple yet effective post by Craig Robinson (his stock in trade, really) angried up my blood in a way I couldn’t expect when I first clicked the link. Flip Flop Flyball dropped all the official MLB site headers into a single post, putting the various marketing strategies on blast. The images ran the gamut from simple and clean to clunky and awkward. One stood out for all the wrong reasons: the Toronto Blue Jays.

As Craig astutely points out, the use of “2.0″ is cringe-worthy at best in the year 2011. Used in conjunction with last year’s slogan doesn’t make it okay. The slogan itself – Hustle and Heart – doesn’t exactly make me proud to be a Jays fan. Don’t forget the incredibly conspicuous maple leaf!

The entire presentation lays the Jays strategy bare – selling you a bill of goods in a very specific way, branded to the hilt with a glorious maple syrup topping.

Apparently this strategy, however cynical and insulting, works. According to recent attendance numbers, the Jays are enjoying the highest season-over-season boost in paid customers. This news comes as no shock to FAN590 listeners, as the Jays ticket surge featured prominently in all their sports updates Thursday.

The constant attendance reassurances play off the crazed obsession with the number of seats the Jays may or may-not sell. I can recall hosting liveblog of Opening Day in the past and being bombarded with questions about attendance – did the game sell out? How many people are there? Is it a sellout?

Rogers wants to assure you that many people from all walks of a life attend the games, where they are thoroughly entertained by the hustling, working-class denizens just like the TO crowds pretend to be. They’ve heard our cheers for Reed Johnson and now they’re selling it right back to us. Don’t forget the Dougie Gordie goodness of 18 Americans and 7 Latin dudes fighting for the Canadian flag. It’s enough to make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end.

The news of a looming re-brand is probably for the best, as the logo and color scheme make more enemies than friends. Hopefully they company in charge can come up with something a little more inspiring and original than a series of bland platitudes fused together.

Comments (30)

  1. Pretty soon, you’ll just start to ignore the patronizing play for the masses, Drew. Trust me, I’m from Cardinal Country™ Home of the Best Fans in Baseball™.

  2. Is the Jay’s “Hustle + Heart 2.0″ really worse than the Marlin’s “Catch our moves?” That sounds like a random sample of dialogue from Bring it On.

  3. I think you’ll change your mind next year, Heart & Hustle 3.0 .. Then you’ll feel stupid for not jumping on board sooner!

  4. So I’m supposed to be together with other Giants (WORLD CHAMPS) fans to be Giants about something or other?

  5. I honestly don’t care how teams market themselves to the masses if it results in them being successful as businesses. The distinction between business and baseball is where the concern comes in. If “Hustle and Heart 2.0″ sells more seats than “Attempting to Efficiently Pay for WAR”, then so be it.
    What I must hope for, however, is that the slogan does not lead to decisions in terms of product. There are arguably a lot of decisions that still get made because either conventional wisdom, or a need for excitement over patience among fans, are asking for them. If a team with “hustle and heart” attempts to steal third base with two outs, or leaves a pitcher on the mound to pitch to a LHB that he has no business pitching to, then it’s time to switch to “Playing the Game the Right Way: Recognizing the True Value of Outs both Offensively and Defensively (since 2011)”.
    Aside from that, I need other people to pay for this team, no matter what they think they’re paying for.

  6. @Phillas:

    It’s “together we are GIANT”, in the singular form. From this I interpret that the Giants’ team and fanbase join together to form VOLTRON.

  7. I know it played in Toronto quickly last year, but baseball movie suggestion for your series:

    You might get Shawn Green to come, he also has a book coming out in June, so timing could be right!/shawngreen15/status/35573701797744640

  8. What’s wrong with marketing them as ‘Canada’s Team’? The maple leaf really bothers you that much?

  9. Which one is it: Canada’s team or the hustle and heart thing? Like I said, it’s a catch-all mess.

  10. Worked up over much of nothing… much? The maple leaf is a constant, the hustle and heart 2.0 is a yearly marketing strategy. They’re not in competition with each other. And “Hustle and Heart 2.0″ is better than “Watch Kevin Youkilis have 35 five minute at bats where he stares at each ball intently detemining that it is, indeed, a ball”.

  11. A red maple leaf makes it a “catch-all mess”?

    The players themselves are buying into the tag line. How often does a team’s marketing campaign transcend into the outlook of the team itself? If Romero, JPA and Bautista resonate with it, then it’s pretty silly to call out fans for doing so as well.

  12. What I find most interesting about this is that the advertising campaign seems to indicate that this Jays team has more heart than other teams. More hustle, perhaps, maybe, I dunno, but at least that’s somewhat quantifiable. How do you quantify how much heart a team has? More importantly, how are you to say this team has more heart than the Indians, Athletics, or Diamondbacks? Do they have more heart than the Australian Olympic Team? How about your dorky cousin’s little league team? It’s just stupid.

    “Hustle and Heart 2.0,” it sounds good on the surface, but means NOTHING underneath. I was hoping that ethos left the day Ricciardi was canned. Apparently not.

  13. I think that most slogans or advertising approaches are insulting, but this is especially true where I feel I already have a good understanding of, or commitment to, the product. This is true of politics, consumer goods, sport teams, etc. If the slogan were designed to appeal to the most committed, then it would probably fail if the actual purpose was to increase sales rather than stabilize the committed core.
    Anyway, in that sense, I totally agree with what you’ve posted – because on its own it’s stupid. I just think that the Jays don’t have their most committed core in mind when they design their advertising, because if they did, they’d likely make less money.
    I don’t want to imply what the causation is here, but it is striking that more people are attending games. I would really like to see what evidence the marketing folks have in terms of why that is.

  14. “we can only arm ourselves with a healthy dose of cynicism if we hope to survive”

    I’d contend that there’s not such thing as a healthy does of cynicism; cynicism is generally irrationally negative regardless of evidence. Skepticism on the other hand is rational evaluation of facts and use of critical thinking, which advertising definitely calls for when being viewed.
    But I hear what you’re saying. Aren’t all team slogans inherently empty and shallow platitudes meant to entice ticket sales though?

  15. “Hustle & Heart 2.1 – we fixed a minor glitch (Juan Rivera released for failing to stay on message).” – Awesome!

  16. You’ve got to wonder, too, how much of it is simply a marketing department that thinks that marketing works a certain way – that you have a specific product (9 guys on a field, plus some more in a dugout and the bullpen) and then you brand the hell out of it (2.0! Made in Canada!) until the next model comes out (3.0! Now outsourced to Latin America for more swagger at a fraction of the cost!).

    What’s especially interesting, at least for me, is that it is at odds with what AA and Beest(mode)on have said ad nausem: that you sell tickets by winning by games. Obviously you still have to run promotions in the meantime, but if baseball is sold on success, you’d think “We have Jose fucking Bautista” would sell just as well without the “HH2.0″ stuff.

  17. Reasons for the higher ticket sales include:

    1. Only having played 13 games at home so far.

    2. Quality of the opposition and timing. The games: 3 were that opening series in Minnesota when everyone was eager to get on the badnwagon (plus a bobblehead promotion). 2 were weekday games against the Yankees (always a draw). 3 were a weekend series against the Rays (weekends generally do better). 3 were this past weekend, where they drew 19,000, 23 and 17, 500. (First open air games of the season. That leaves 3 weekday, non draw games against Oakland. They drew 11,000, 11, 500 and 19,500 (day game… school day).

    3. Only 11 April home dates. People don’t do much April baseball in Toronto, so less was more.

    Draw your own conclusions.

  18. “How does it resonate with the players? Because they read scripted lines for the purposes of a promo?”

    How about voluntarily Tweeting about it every day? Go look at their accounts. They’re into it. If the players can get behind it, how can you criticize the fans for doing the same?

  19. Hey Drew

    How bout Scrappiness and Intangibles 2.0 ?

  20. sebastian.. they rarely say heart and hustle.. the thing around the players is ‘beast mode’

  21. “By the way if anyone here is in advertising or marketing… kill yourself. ” – Bill Hicks

    Most team slogans are an insult to anyone of average intelligence and for that reason I think we must judge the embarassing ‘Hustle and Heart 2.0′ in comparison to the others. Scanning the site headers I was appalled most of all by the ‘This is Birdland’, ‘This is Reds Country’, and ‘This is Twins Territory’ slogans simply for the total lack of creativity. ‘Who’s Your Tiger?’, ‘Catch Our Moves!’ and ‘Major League Moments’ are cheesy, but the ‘Hustle and Heart’ really ups the ante. ‘Hustle and Heart’ is supposed to appeal to the ridiculous notion Jays fans want to watch a team full of John MacDonalds; 2.0 is supposed to help attract a younger audience (even though the term stopped being used at least five years ago); and the maple leaf is another ridiculous effort to market the Jays as ‘Canada’s team’. I see such blatant attempts at pandering as a reminder that Rogers is only interested in your wallet and this sometimes makes it hard to be a fan.

  22. People who comment on baseball blogs ain’t the audience for this stuff. We’re gonna come to the games or watch them on TV anyway. That very fact can answer about 90% of the questions anyone would have about this kind of marketing strategy/tactic.

  23. nothing >>>>>>>>>>>> hustle and heart 2.0

    A lot of other teams left theirs blank.

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