If you’ve driven I-35 near downtown lately, there’s one billboard that you are sure to have noticed. For the second year in a row, the Kansas City Royals have hit a home run with their preseason billboards that have grabbed attention across the nation. (From Yahoo!: “Kansas City Royals have the coolest billboard in baseball”).
While the Royals get the buzz, the ideas for those billboards were born in Mission. Walz Tetrick Advertising in the old NCAA building at Nall and Shawnee Mission Parkway is responsible for the creative genius that for two years now has everyone talking. Charles Tetrick of Fairway is the president/CEO of the agency and Jeff Chase is the creative director who led the team responsible for the breakout attention.
This year it is single billboard with Alex Gordon sliding into base and scraping the billboard clean as he slides, rumpling the fabric ahead of him. Last year it was a two-billboard display with James Shields on one side of I-35 pitching to Salvador Perez on the other side and the ball tearing up the billboard on the catcher’s side.
The two-billboard set won a host of awards and was a hot topic locally and nationally. This week the 2014 billboard went up and is off to the same start. Getting mentions on ESPN and CBS, it has gone viral. “It’s gotten a lot of good play,” Chase says.
Last year the media department at Walz Tetrick had found the two-board spot, so the creative process needed to produce an idea that used both. There’s always pressure to come up with something fresh, Chase says. Following last year’s hit was going to be hard, but Chase says the team is always thinking of new concepts and had a list of ideas.
As for the Royals, Chase says, “they got it right away.” Last year, Walz Tetrick told the team to expect calls from people saying the billboard was damaged. As they predicted, the calls came.
The concept for the new board was done before the player was picked, Chase says. The theme for this year’s team “Be Royal” fits with Gordon. “Alex really represents what ‘Be Royal’ is all about,” he says. “When he puts on the uniform, it means something to him. To Be Royal is to play at a higher level.”
Deciding to go to a game is an emotional decision, Chase says. “We really want to capture the emotion of what it feels like to be a fan.”
Some of the ideas that didn’t make the cut this year? One had the support pole for the billboard painted like a foul pole and a leaping Gordon making a catch over the wall. The concept required Gordon’s body to extend above and below the billboard and that is no longer allowed in Kansas City.
If you haven’t seen this year’s board, drive by soon. Like last year, it is part of the preseason campaign and won’t be up for too long.