20 MARINERS STORIES

20 MARINERS STORIES

The Mariners were our founding account. Every February, we travel to Arizona to produce the year’s commercials during the team’s spring training. Some colorful stories have emerged from our annual mix of baseball and advertising.

The Mariners were our founding account. Every February, we travel to Arizona to produce the year’s commercials during the team’s spring training. Some colorful stories have emerged from our annual mix of baseball and advertising.

1. The Legend of Larry Bernandez

Perhaps the most popular Mariners’ commercial of all time starred Félix Hernández and his alter ego. We weren’t sure if Félix would be willing to wear the wacky getup we designed for “Larry.” But he embraced the role with gusto. The commercial was so popular, it inspired a Larry Bernandez Bobblehead Night with Félix throwing out the first pitch, dressed as Larry.

2. Jay Buhner shines

Another top 5 Mariners’ commercial features Jay Buhner distracting an opposing batter by reflecting sunlight off his bald head. The bright light bursting from his noggin wasn’t a fancy computer graphic. Director Ron Gross stuck a small mirror, about the shape of a quarter, to Jay’s forehead and the Arizona sunshine did the rest.

3. Chris Bosio tears our storyboard in half

In our first-ever campaign featuring players, we asked Mariners’ pitcher Chris Bosio to wear a tutu and dance a ballet. He was a nice guy, but he had his limits. “I’ll do a commercial for you guys, but not this one!” he said as he tore up our storyboard. Lesson learned: Have fun with the players without making fun of the players.

4. Hawt Corner

Kyle Seager is a Gold Glove third baseman. We had the idea to show off his fielding prowess accompanied by a hard-rock music soundtrack. We found a Metallica tribute band (MetalHead) in Phoenix and created “Hawt Corner”—a Kyle Seager tribute band. Set up behind third base, they play a live version of their smash hit (what else?) “Hawt Corner” as Kyle makes great play after great play. Kyle loved it. The band loved it. And we all got free tickets to their MetalHead show the next night!

5. Edgar finds his groove

The first commercial we ever did with Edgar Martínez was based on his dedication to batting practice. The commercial took a while to film, but Edgar uncomplainingly took swing after swing. The next year, we had a concept for him that required far less work. “That’s OK,” said Edgar. “Last year, I wasn’t swinging the bat well in the early spring. That extra batting practice in the commercial helped me find my stroke!” (He went on to hit .327 that year. Glad we could help, Edgar.)

6. Where’s Ichiro?

At the height of Ichiro Suzuki’s popularity in Seattle, the All-Star rightfielder was not available to film a commercial because of his participation in the World Baseball Classic. Our solution? Show fans all over the Northwest executing the iconic Ichiro “sleeve tug” as part of their everyday jobs. Proving once again that necessity—or desperation—is the mother of invention.

7. Ken Griffey Jr., Peanut Vendor

After Ken Griffey Jr.’s MVP season, we did a commercial entitled “The All-Griffey Team” in which Junior played all nine positions on the diamond. When he saw the script he said, “Hey, maybe I can play a peanut vendor in the stands, too!” Great idea, Ken. Thanks for making a good idea even better.

8. Arrow-Dynamic

Fernando Rodney’s long career has included a stop in Seattle. An effective closer, Rodney would pantomime shooting an invisible arrow from an invisible bow every time he recorded a save. This spot shows one of Rodney’s “arrows” landing in the backyard of an unfortunate A’s fan, ruining his child’s birthday party. Our direction to the actor was to fall to his knees and shout the name “Rodney” to the sky the way Marlon Brando screamed “Stella” in A Streetcar Named Desire. As you’ll see, he nailed it!

9. Where the buffalo roam

One of the goofiest Mariners’ commercials featured shortstop Brendan Ryan talking to a buffalo. How do you cast a buffalo? Luckily, Phoenix is home to one of the most famous in the world—a shaggy beast that’s appeared in dozens of films, TV shows and commercials. As you can see, he handled his dialogue flawlessly.

10. Ichiro can hit anything

That was the premise of one of our favorite Ichiro commercials. The idea: players grew tired of Ichiro’s amazing consistency in batting practice, lining pitch after pitch to all fields. So they decided to see what else he could hit: A rubber ducky? A roll of toilet paper? A can of corn? A Tic Tac? Yep, he hit ’em all. As we were wrapping the commercial, someone found a Tic Tac in the grass near first base. Yes, he actually hit it.

11. Monkey Business

In 2009, we filmed our 100th Mariners’ video in the long-running series. To commemorate the event, we turned it into a commercial: Edgar Martínez and Jay Buhner roam the halls of the Mariners’ offices in search of the “genius” creator of the spots. They are told his office is in a small broom closet. When Edgar and Jay open the door, they find the writer hard at work at his typewriter—a chimpanzee who works for peanuts. (Buhner loved the chimp; Edgar not so much.)

12. Bald is beautiful

Jay Buhner loved doing the commercials, and we loved working with him. The season after he retired, we brought him back to do one more. In this spot, he passes his role as team leader on to Bret Boone. But only after insisting Boonie shave his head like Jay’s. (Bret’s bald skullcap was very convincing.)

13. International incident

“Edgar & The Rookies” was a very popular commercial, trading on baseball’s growing international flavor. In this spot, Edgar Martínez teaches “Northwest English” to a group of Latino players with useful phrases like “I took my geoduck to Puyallup.” The Mariners had a Japanese player at the time, Mac Suzuki, whom we wanted to include in the cast. Mac was ill that day, so we asked a Japanese-language reporter (who spoke little to no English) to sit in Mac’s place. We dressed the reporter in a Mariners’ uniform and put him in the “classroom” with the other players. Unfortunately, his stature made him very unconvincing as a professional athlete. So we thanked him and sent him back to the press room. To this day, the poor guy has no idea what our lunacy was all about.

14. First Names

Cliff Lee joined the Mariners’ starting rotation in 2010, and he and teammate Félix Hernández became two of the best pitchers in the game. This simple spot is about Felix’s fascination with Cliff’s “two first names.” Félix spends the entire spot rattling off the names of other celebrities with a dual first name (Hank Aaron, Nolan Ryan, Dick Clark, Billy Joel, James Dean, Ray Charles, Jimmy Stewart, Elton John, and on and on) to Cliff’s lack of amusement. The commercial has endured longer than Lee, who was traded away at mid-season.

15. The Light Bat

In the 1990s, now-defunct Eagle Hardware did a series of commercials featuring Mariners’ players. “Light Bat,” starring Edgar Martínez was a regional sensation. The spot was created by Jones Advertising, a fine local agency. Unfortunately, most people thought it was a commercial for the Mariners—and, frankly, we grew tired of people telling us it was their all-time favorite spot. So a couple of years ago, we created a fresh take on the “Light Bat”—once again starring Edgar Martínez. Thanks, Edgar. And thanks, Jones Advertising!

16. Crowned

One of the great nicknames in Mariners’ history is “King Felix.” It has provided fodder for some memorable Félix Hernández commercials. “Crowned” is one of our favorites featuring our ace pitcher on the mound in various forms of regal costuming. Félix had a great time with this one. Who would have guessed a young guy from Venezuela could do such a convincing Elvis?

17. Jamie Moyer Documentary

Jamie Moyer pitched 10 seasons for the Mariners. The ageless veteran kept rolling along—pitching in the big leagues until age 46 before finally retiring from the Colorado Rockies. We had some fun with Jamie’s long career in this mockumentary, suggesting that his career spanned a half century. Some viewers took it a little too seriously and explained that Jamie wasn’t old enough to have been a bat boy for the Washington Senators in 1926. (You gotta love these fans!)

18. Kollectors

Before the King’s Court became a Mariners’ tradition, fans would come to the ballpark with makeshift Ks to wave whenever Félix Hernández recorded a strikeout. In this commercial, we take the idea to extremes, with fans swiping Ks from all over town—including the K in the Pike Place Market neon sign. (The prop still hangs in our office.)

19. Big Richie

Over the years, we’ve tried our hand at a couple of musical commercials. This one, starring Mariners’ slugger Richie Sexson, is as much a tribute to the late Johnny Cash as it is to “Big Richie’s” prodigious home-run blasts.

20. Nellies’s Auto Glass

Nelson Cruz is an affable guy who is very generous with his time during our productions. To dramatize Nelson’s tendency to hit baseballs a long, long way, we created “Nellie’s Auto Glass”—a fictitious side business where he repairs auto windshields shattered by his booming home runs that land in the parking lot. (There’s a hilarious outtake wherein one of his tape-measure blasts bounces off the asphalt and hits our hapless actor in a rather delicate anatomical area.)

20 MARINERS STORIES

20 MARINERS STORIES

The Mariners were our founding account. Every February, we travel to Arizona to produce the year’s commercials during the team’s spring training. Some colorful stories have emerged from our annual mix of baseball and advertising.

The Mariners were our founding account. Every February, we travel to Arizona to produce the year’s commercials during the team’s spring training. Some colorful stories have emerged from our annual mix of baseball and advertising.

1. The Legend of Larry Bernandez

Perhaps the most popular Mariners’ commercial of all time starred Félix Hernández and his alter ego. We weren’t sure if Félix would be willing to wear the wacky getup we designed for “Larry.” But he embraced the role with gusto. The commercial was so popular, it inspired a Larry Bernandez Bobblehead Night with Félix throwing out the first pitch, dressed as Larry.

2. Jay Buhner shines

Another top 5 Mariners’ commercial features Jay Buhner distracting an opposing batter by reflecting sunlight off his bald head. The bright light bursting from his noggin wasn’t a fancy computer graphic. Director Ron Gross stuck a small mirror, about the shape of a quarter, to Jay’s forehead and the Arizona sunshine did the rest.

3. Chris Bosio tears our storyboard in half

In our first-ever campaign featuring players, we asked Mariners’ pitcher Chris Bosio to wear a tutu and dance a ballet. He was a nice guy, but he had his limits. “I’ll do a commercial for you guys, but not this one!” he said as he tore up our storyboard. Lesson learned: Have fun with the players without making fun of the players.

4. Hawt Corner

Kyle Seager is a Gold Glove third baseman. We had the idea to show off his fielding prowess accompanied by a hard-rock music soundtrack. We found a Metallica tribute band (MetalHead) in Phoenix and created “Hawt Corner”—a Kyle Seager tribute band. Set up behind third base, they play a live version of their smash hit (what else?) “Hawt Corner” as Kyle makes great play after great play. Kyle loved it. The band loved it. And we all got free tickets to their MetalHead show the next night!

5. Edgar finds his groove

The first commercial we ever did with Edgar Martínez was based on his dedication to batting practice. The commercial took a while to film, but Edgar uncomplainingly took swing after swing. The next year, we had a concept for him that required far less work. “That’s OK,” said Edgar. “Last year, I wasn’t swinging the bat well in the early spring. That extra batting practice in the commercial helped me find my stroke!” (He went on to hit .327 that year. Glad we could help, Edgar.)

6. Where’s Ichiro?

At the height of Ichiro Suzuki’s popularity in Seattle, the All-Star rightfielder was not available to film a commercial because of his participation in the World Baseball Classic. Our solution? Show fans all over the Northwest executing the iconic Ichiro “sleeve tug” as part of their everyday jobs. Proving once again that necessity—or desperation—is the mother of invention.

7. Ken Griffey Jr., Peanut Vendor

After Ken Griffey Jr.’s MVP season, we did a commercial entitled “The All-Griffey Team” in which Junior played all nine positions on the diamond. When he saw the script he said, “Hey, maybe I can play a peanut vendor in the stands, too!” Great idea, Ken. Thanks for making a good idea even better.

8. Arrow-Dynamic

Fernando Rodney’s long career has included a stop in Seattle. An effective closer, Rodney would pantomime shooting an invisible arrow from an invisible bow every time he recorded a save. This spot shows one of Rodney’s “arrows” landing in the backyard of an unfortunate A’s fan, ruining his child’s birthday party. Our direction to the actor was to fall to his knees and shout the name “Rodney” to the sky the way Marlon Brando screamed “Stella” in A Streetcar Named Desire. As you’ll see, he nailed it!

9. Where the buffalo roam

One of the goofiest Mariners’ commercials featured shortstop Brendan Ryan talking to a buffalo. How do you cast a buffalo? Luckily, Phoenix is home to one of the most famous in the world—a shaggy beast that’s appeared in dozens of films, TV shows and commercials. As you can see, he handled his dialogue flawlessly.

10. Ichiro can hit anything

That was the premise of one of our favorite Ichiro commercials. The idea: players grew tired of Ichiro’s amazing consistency in batting practice, lining pitch after pitch to all fields. So they decided to see what else he could hit: A rubber ducky? A roll of toilet paper? A can of corn? A Tic Tac? Yep, he hit ’em all. As we were wrapping the commercial, someone found a Tic Tac in the grass near first base. Yes, he actually hit it.

11. Monkey Business

In 2009, we filmed our 100th Mariners’ video in the long-running series. To commemorate the event, we turned it into a commercial: Edgar Martínez and Jay Buhner roam the halls of the Mariners’ offices in search of the “genius” creator of the spots. They are told his office is in a small broom closet. When Edgar and Jay open the door, they find the writer hard at work at his typewriter—a chimpanzee who works for peanuts. (Buhner loved the chimp; Edgar not so much.)

12. Bald is beautiful

Jay Buhner loved doing the commercials, and we loved working with him. The season after he retired, we brought him back to do one more. In this spot, he passes his role as team leader on to Bret Boone. But only after insisting Boonie shave his head like Jay’s. (Bret’s bald skullcap was very convincing.)

13. International incident

“Edgar & The Rookies” was a very popular commercial, trading on baseball’s growing international flavor. In this spot, Edgar Martínez teaches “Northwest English” to a group of Latino players with useful phrases like “I took my geoduck to Puyallup.” The Mariners had a Japanese player at the time, Mac Suzuki, whom we wanted to include in the cast. Mac was ill that day, so we asked a Japanese-language reporter (who spoke little to no English) to sit in Mac’s place. We dressed the reporter in a Mariners’ uniform and put him in the “classroom” with the other players. Unfortunately, his stature made him very unconvincing as a professional athlete. So we thanked him and sent him back to the press room. To this day, the poor guy has no idea what our lunacy was all about.

14. First Names

Cliff Lee joined the Mariners’ starting rotation in 2010, and he and teammate Félix Hernández became two of the best pitchers in the game. This simple spot is about Felix’s fascination with Cliff’s “two first names.” Félix spends the entire spot rattling off the names of other celebrities with a dual first name (Hank Aaron, Nolan Ryan, Dick Clark, Billy Joel, James Dean, Ray Charles, Jimmy Stewart, Elton John, and on and on) to Cliff’s lack of amusement. The commercial has endured longer than Lee, who was traded away at mid-season.

15. The Light Bat

In the 1990s, now-defunct Eagle Hardware did a series of commercials featuring Mariners’ players. “Light Bat,” starring Edgar Martínez was a regional sensation. The spot was created by Jones Advertising, a fine local agency. Unfortunately, most people thought it was a commercial for the Mariners—and, frankly, we grew tired of people telling us it was their all-time favorite spot. So a couple of years ago, we created a fresh take on the “Light Bat”—once again starring Edgar Martínez. Thanks, Edgar. And thanks, Jones Advertising!

16. Crowned

One of the great nicknames in Mariners’ history is “King Felix.” It has provided fodder for some memorable Félix Hernández commercials. “Crowned” is one of our favorites featuring our ace pitcher on the mound in various forms of regal costuming. Félix had a great time with this one. Who would have guessed a young guy from Venezuela could do such a convincing Elvis?

17. Jamie Moyer Documentary

Jamie Moyer pitched 10 seasons for the Mariners. The ageless veteran kept rolling along—pitching in the big leagues until age 46 before finally retiring from the Colorado Rockies. We had some fun with Jamie’s long career in this mockumentary, suggesting that his career spanned a half century. Some viewers took it a little too seriously and explained that Jamie wasn’t old enough to have been a bat boy for the Washington Senators in 1926. (You gotta love these fans!)

18. Kollectors

Before the King’s Court became a Mariners’ tradition, fans would come to the ballpark with makeshift Ks to wave whenever Félix Hernández recorded a strikeout. In this commercial, we take the idea to extremes, with fans swiping Ks from all over town—including the K in the Pike Place Market neon sign. (The prop still hangs in our office.)

19. Big Richie

Over the years, we’ve tried our hand at a couple of musical commercials. This one, starring Mariners’ slugger Richie Sexson, is as much a tribute to the late Johnny Cash as it is to “Big Richie’s” prodigious home-run blasts.

20. Nellies’s Auto Glass

Nelson Cruz is an affable guy who is very generous with his time during our productions. To dramatize Nelson’s tendency to hit baseballs a long, long way, we created “Nellie’s Auto Glass”—a fictitious side business where he repairs auto windshields shattered by his booming home runs that land in the parking lot. (There’s a hilarious outtake wherein one of his tape-measure blasts bounces off the asphalt and hits our hapless actor in a rather delicate anatomical area.)