MLB’s Stand Up To Cancer Beyond Compare: Throughout the baseball postseason, the colorful and silent Stand Up To Cancer logo has appeared without great fanfare. It does not scream at the consumer, but in every ballpark during the playoffs there was the logo. For some, myself included, the logo was a surprise and may not have been exactly clear what it was on first glance. After all, it was a prominent commercial spot that could be bringing in valuable dollars to MLB. With every passing game, the talk around the charity became more and more prevalent.
Then on Wednesday night during Game One of the World Series, the message became crystal clear. During the fifth inning, every player, coach, umpire and thousands of fans, along with FOX announcers Joe Buck and Tim McCarver, held the signs that had the names of someone fighting cancer. Not prostate cancer, not breast cancer, not lung cancer, no pink everywhere, no blue no purple. Multi-colored, and every type of the dreaded disease. It was perhaps the most effective and dramatic public service message ever delivered during a live sporting event. Why?
First it was live DURING the game. It was not before or at halftime, it was as the game went on and it needed the participation of everyone involved as warmups for a new inning were in full force. It was a slight disruption and it was very powerful. Could it have thrown off the actions of a player, who paused to leave their zone during the World Series? Maybe. But that’s what made it so dramatic and so real. Second it showed unity. We are in the height of breast cancer awareness month and pink is everywhere. it is well deserved and serves as a great reminder that the battle for such a devastating form of cancer is continuing to be waged. However what MLB did was to remind everyone that every day all forms of cancer invade our lives, and every one needs to be addressed. The blue of prostate cancer to some is just as important as the pink of breast cancer, and nine should be taken for granted or trivialized. Third, it made the fight for cancer very personal. Buck and McCarver talked about people they knew, signs were held by people whose relatives and friends were affected. It was a great moment of personal shared passion on the biggest of stages. Fourth, although well orchastrated it came across as very spontaneous to the viewer. there were millions watching who had no idea coming back from a commercial break what they were going to see. the surprise and the unity really drove the message home.
Now perhaps there can be the argument that it wasn’t as visual as the sea of pink we are seeing in the NFL and other places during Breast cancer Awareness Month, or that “cancer” isn’t specific enough to get a message out and raise dollars. However that was the beauty of the promotion. It was unique to each person and spoke to everyone. There was no way to escape it or tie it to someone, anyone you knew.
Sometimes people take shots at MLB for being too old school or traditional. However there are many ways that MLB continues to be a trailblazer in engagement and promotion, and Wednesday night was perhaps their greatest hour in terms of social awareness. An amazing and creative effort to rally for a cause right in the heat of battle.