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I’ve wondered for months how the Chicago Cubs planned to market – at a thematic level – the 2013 team. The playoffs still look far off, and even the promise of the future is down in the farm system, rather than on the field at Wrigley. The Cubs tried the whole “Baseball is Better” thing last year, and it didn’t really resonate.

So, how do you sell a team that probably won’t be good to a legion of fans who desperately clinging to the hope that, in a couple years, that team might be good?

You remind them about commitment. Loyalty. About the hardcore fans among them.

From a press release about the marketing plans this year:

The “Committed” campaign launches in conjunction with the beginning of Cubs single game ticket sales this Friday at 10 a.m. CST. Creative spots feature authentic stories from actual Cubs fans, including Jeff and Jessi Galbraith, a couple from Indianapolis who got engaged at Wrigley Field; Adam Weiler of Chicago, who triumphed over his wife’s efforts to raise their son as a Brewers fan; and David Eagan, a South Side security guard who proudly sports a tattoo of a Cubs logo and Ron Santo’s signature on the back of his head.

Various print, online, radio and out-of-home advertisements will begin appearing in the Chicagoland market this week, including CTA Red Line, Blue Line and Brown Line platforms, and billboards on major highways and streets throughout the city. Starting in April, a second promotional phase will include television spots illustrating fan and player commitments to the Chicago Cubs, as well as an online and social media campaign inviting fans worldwide to share their stories through videos, photos or essays. Michael Walters Advertising serves as the team’s media buying agency for the campaign.

“The Chicago Cubs and Cubs fans are solidly committed to each other as we embark on the most remarkable journey in all of sports – winning a World Series at Wrigley Field,” said Alison Miller, senior director of marketing, Chicago Cubs. “This campaign showcases the emotional connection of our fans who are part of that journey, and the Cubs’ commitment to building a championship-caliber organization from top to bottom.”

I think this is probably the best the Cubs could do. Like the “Baseball is Better” campaign, the “Committed” campaign ties to things President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein has said of late. In particular, Epstein has noted how, for the fans who’ve stuck with the Cubs through the worst of it, achieving sustained success will be all the more sweet. To that end, I may have suggested an addendum to the campaign: the good feels so much better when you’ve suffered through the suck.

Also, you can expect to see one million jokes about Cubs fans being “committed” in the near future. Ha. Ha. Clever.

Some examples of the campaign materials you’ll likely be seeing around town:

heart on a sleeve

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