T-Mobile was looking to leverage its sponsorship of Major League Baseball during the 2014 postseason in a bold new way. The postseason is the highest engagement point of the year, reaching both avid and casual fans. T-Mobile decided to use this opportunity to grow consideration for the brand among MLB fans by creating a completely fan-driven experience that capitalized on their biggest asset—their network—while making a meaningful contribution to the postseason and creating quality brand impressions. To do this, they focused on than that glorious moment in the middle of the 7th inning when the crowds rise, the stadium bursts into song and the focus shifts from the players to the fans. T-Mobile decided to un-leash the 7th inning stretch.
They created a user engagement program that tapped into this time-honored tradition, making it fun and easy for baseball fans everywhere to take part in what they called “The Biggest 7th Stretch Ever". It was a simple idea: grab you phone, grab your friends, sing “Take Me Out To The Ballgame" and upload your video selfie to T-Mobile's custom tool for the chance to be featured in a 60-second spot during Game 4 of the World Series. They leveraged the strength of their network by encouraging participants to upload their videos over the “Data Strong Network". This simple idea gave T-Mobile the springboard they needed to pay homage to the game while increasing brand awareness and giving thousands of fans the opportunity to be part of baseball history.
“The Biggest 7th Inning Stretch Ever" allowed T-Mobile to tell their network story and leverage their MLB sponsorship while celebrating America's pastime with a campaign entirely driven by the fans. The campaign deftly built on the excitement of the postseason and generated millions of impressions across social media, in-stadium and through broadcast—and it all came together in less than 30 days.
In early October, T-Mobile began raising awareness for “The Biggest 7th" and encouraging UGC by teaming up with major social influencers, including celebrities and pro athletes. A video team was deployed around the country to shoot influencers' versions of the song, which they then pushed out through various social media channels with #TheBig7th and a link to T-Mobile's custom-built branded web app. The team traveled to Baltimore, St. Louis, Kansas City and San Francisco, where members of all four MLB teams contributed videos to build hype among baseball fans. While on the ground in the playoff markets, video teams also hit the streets to collect videos of energetic fans congregated around ballparks and nearby sports bars.
T-Mobile enlisted the talents of popular EDM artist Steve Aoki, who put a unique spin on the baseball classic with his own instrumental version of “Take Me Out To The Ballgame." This version of the song aired in-stadium during each postseason game as part of T-Mobile's pre-game feature to encourage fans to submit.
During each playoff game, T-Mobile leveraged their existing partnership with MLB to secure in-broadcast mentions of The Biggest 7th Inning Stretch Ever from FOX sports commentators like Joe Buck. On-screen graphics drove traffic directly to the web app where fans could submit their own videos and share to social media directly from the site. This placement allowed T-Mobile to reach millions of baseball fans watching from home every night while creating buzz, building excitement and driving submissions.
As the postseason surged ahead and submissions from baseball fans across the country flooded in, the team worked around the clock, selecting the best videos and piecing them together to build an epic 60-second spot. But with the World Series already underway and just days to go before the commercial was set to air in Game 4, they realized they were missing something: bold, frenetic, Un-carrier energy. T-Mobile decided put a new twist on “Take Me Out To The Ballgame"—a re-mix to match the youthful spirit of the brand. They teamed up with members of the popular Bay Area punk band the Phenomenauts and used Green Day's Berkeley studio to record a charged version of the classic song. The track catapulted the project into high gear, mirroring the excitement of the fans and infusing the spot with fresh Un-carrier flavor.
Over the course of the three-week campaign, The Biggest 7th Inning Stretch Ever garnered over 231 million impressions. #TheBig7th got over 40 million trend impressions on Twitter alone, with over 496 thousand engagements via influencers' sponsored content. Meanwhile, in-stadium features reached upwards of a million fans while in-broadcast mentions reached an average of 12.6 million fans per game.
The fan engagement was unbelievable, with video submissions pouring in right down to the wire. After an intense last-minute push from the video team, the final spot charged into the homes of millions of baseball fans around the world during Game 4 of the World Series, with encore airings during each of the next three games. The Biggest 7th Inning Stretch Ever was an undisputed success, cementing T-Mobile's place as a champion of the fans and the premier sponsor of the 2014 MLB postseason.