DAN STEPHENSON, the Phillies' manager of video production, was preparing a commercial last September on the heels of Ryan Howard's three home-run day against the Braves.
Hearing a call of one of the homers on the team's Spanish network, he couldn't help but get chills.
"He was listening to them making the calls, and saying, 'Boy, even if you don't understand what they're saying, it's still exciting,' " said Phillies advertising manager Jo-Anne Levy-Lamoreaux. "And he just had a title that said, 'Goosebumps in Any Language.' And I really liked that."
So much, in fact, that it has become the buzzword for their 2007 advertising campaign, a promise the Phillies safely feel they can deliver. It's their first campaign since "Real Grass, Real Fun" helped usher in the move to Citizens Bank Park in 2004.
Why don't they do them more often? Surely you remember "Bring It On" in 2000, when that brash theme of what would turn out to be Terry Francona's last team backfired into a 65-97 season. In essense, says Levy-Lamoreaux, all the fun of the promotion can come back to haunt you when it's tied to performance.
"I think a lot of clubs do have a slogan every year," she said. "You know, we're in a tough market. I think there are a lot of places where they can't turn around as much and hurt you as much as this marketplace . . . Any time you write a line for a piece you have to say, 'OK, how can this be turned around?' The problem is that everything can be turned around."
The Sixers still can attest to that. They still occasionally are chided for their failure after the infamous "We Owe You One" campaign of the Doctor J days. Still, senior vice president of business operations Lara Price said the Sixers have been developing campaigns as long as she has been there.
"I think that you can always find the positive and negative in any marketing campaign tagline," said Price, who joined the Sixers in 1996, "so you have to go with what you feel has the most mass appeal when branding your team."
It's difficult imagining this Phillies club of Howard and Chase Utley and friends falling short on providing goosebumps. A title? Now that's something else. But there's surely a buzz around this team, fueled by the young stars and the yearning for success coming off the losingest sports winter in the city's history.
Levy-Lamoreaux said she and her staff spent the last homestand of the 2006 season roaming the stands, asking fans what gives them goosebumps. Those responses became some of the early footage for six commercials that were posted on the team's Web site in February. Fans were asked to vote, almost unanimously selecting the locker-room scene and an Oscar moment by manager Charlie Manuel (see accompanying box). It's worth a look if you haven't seen it yet.
Manuel said he's hardly a novice, having shot some ads during his time in Japan in addition to pitching Fords when he was managing in Cleveland. He said he sat in on the Phillies shoot for a couple of hours, told only that "we might use you." Eventually, they did.
"I figured they just did ones with me so they wouldn't hurt my feelings," Manuel said. "I was surprised when they used it, seriously. I'd say how this one turned out, this one was better. People can definitely get to know me [through this]."
"It was perfect," Levy-Lamoreaux agreed. "You know, Charlie's a great man. And we all know how difficult it is for him to speak in public. And I was very concerned. I said, 'You know, we've gotta be very careful. We can't do this, we can't use it, if it doesn't come off right' . . . but it worked perfectly. There were very few takes."
While the "Goosebumps" campaign might not be used to the extent, say, that the Eagles have adopted the "One" theme the past couple of years, you'll see the buzzword used in a variety of venues throughout the season, from radio to TV to displays around town. Some will strike at the heartstrings - A child jumping up and down to the tagline: "Experience some things at a tender age . . . goosebumps." - while other more humorous lines will find their way into commuter cars. ("The dude next to you may have something contagious . . . goosebumps, free with every ticket" and "Face it, the hubby just can't give you what Chase Utley can . . . goosebumps.")