Mets stars take the spotlight in Super Bowl ad

February 9th, 2023

NEW YORK -- Tucked amongst the usual advertisements for light beers, pickup trucks and blockbuster movies, tri-state area viewers of the Super Bowl on Sunday will see something unusual: members of the 2023 Mets in a fictionalized office, trying to sell tickets to baseball games. There’s outfielder Brandon Nimmo sprinting to pick up a phone call, Francisco Lindor being a little too friendly with a prospective buyer and Kodai Senga explaining the intricacies of his “ghost forkball” over video message. 

If it all seems a bit strange for a Super Bowl ad, that’s because it is. The Mets under multibillionaire owner Steve Cohen simply see it as their new normal. 

“This is different,” Mets chief marketing officer Andy Goldberg said in a video interview. “This is unexpected and that’s what we’re trying to do, is go out there and do something fun and really delight fans.”

The idea hatched in late December, when an external agency that works with the Mets pitched Goldberg on an unusual marketing opportunity for a baseball team: Why not try a Super Bowl ad? Goldberg, whose experience working for brands like General Electric and American Express gave him intimate knowledge in that arena, was initially skeptical. Many ads take the better part of a year to produce. The Mets would be looking at a timeline of around a month.

But Goldberg has also stressed boldness since joining the Mets a little less than a year ago, so he decided to pursue the idea. The Mets enlisted the firm Giant Spoon to handle the media buy and the creative house FCB New York to work on the ad, which the team shot with its own staff in Port St. Lucie, Fla. The time crunch limited their pick of players to include, so they focused on those already in Florida.

Nimmo, who keeps a home in Port St. Lucie, was an easy addition. (So was Mr. Met -- no speaking lines there.) Catcher Tomás Nido and infielder Luis Guillorme, who are seen lounging by a water cooler in full uniform, came up from South Florida. Francisco Lindor drove from Orlando when the Mets pitched him the idea, and Edwin Díaz shot his scene in New York after flying there for the Baseball Writers’ Association of America’s awards dinner.

The most difficult addition was Senga, who was still in Japan at the time. To make it work, the creative team wrote Senga a line that required him to video message Nido using his phone.

“The jokes are meant to be [so] everyone who’s watching the Super Bowl will get it,” Goldberg said. “They’re not meant to be ‘inside baseball’ jokes. Otherwise, we lose the audience. … With a Super Bowl ad, you have a much broader audience than might be watching a dedicated baseball game.”

The ad was a local buy, meaning it will beam onto television sets in FOX’s New York City broadcast area, but not to those elsewhere in the country. (FOX anticipates an audience of about 8 million for the ad.) In buying it, the Mets’ goal was threefold: team executives wanted to support and grow their brand, they wanted to “surprise and delight” people, as Goldberg put it, and they wanted to grow the database of fans they can reach with marketing efforts. That’s why the ad contains a QR code that fans can scan for more information on tickets, including a $57 offer in deference to Super Bowl 57.

While Major League Baseball has aired industry ads during past Super Bowls, the team angle is relatively novel. This advertisement is the first salvo in what the Mets hope will allow them to grow into an international brand, much the way the Yankees, various Premier League teams and others in the world of sport have become.

“Baseball is trying to become more and more global,” Goldberg said. “I want to be at the lead of that train. And it’s not just about the work that happens on the field. I want people walking down the street wearing a Mets hat, thinking, ‘That’s a cool hat to wear.’”

It’s an overarching goal that Cohen shares, and that the Mets hope to achieve through future partnerships, collaborations and other creative ventures -- things that can be as non-traditional as, say, a baseball team airing a Super Bowl ad.

“When I sit down Sunday, and that ad rolls -- I’m actually going to a Super Bowl party with a bunch of Met fans, and they’re going to be pumped,” Goldberg said. “That’s exciting.”