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The 2016 Giants commercials are here! Come watch your favorite players act!

The Giants release this season's ad campaign, which doubles down on the silliness but never forgets to play to the beating heart of fandom that makes us come back for more and buy new hats.

Baker Street Advertising/SFG Productions

The Giants are back -- in commercial form! Yesterday, the team released every ad from the new campaign, 17 in all. They maintain the "We Are SF. We Are Giant." slogan and theme and once again lean on being quirky and funny.

Some general thoughts: I don't think this year's crop is as good as last year's. There is a curious lack of Madison Bumgarner and a tragic absence of Johnny Cueto. You can skip MLB ads if you look at the page commercial page here.

Also, it is in your best interest to be very lenient when it comes to the performances. They're having a good time doing it (that much is clear), so don't give 'em a hard time for not being natural performers in front of the camera.

"Wear Your Heart On Your Head"

Premise: A middle-aged Giants fan says, "If I had not lived it, I never would've believed it" as he puts on his nice-looking Giants hat. He proceeds to take public transit with other Giants fans and leads them into the stadium to watch a Giants game. It's the emotional, feel-good, we are a community "face" of this new ad campaign.

Execution: I liked the echoes of 2010 and the fact that this man and these fans are able to ride a muni train to the park and have room to breathe. It also tries to be visually striking and generally succeeds. It's vaguely in the style of the Let's Get Back Together ads from 2012 in terms of capturing the city with little flair but as a way of tying it and its people to the team. Also, everything is in black and white until the dude puts his Giants hat on -- the campaign this year takes multiple opportunities to highlight the orange and black. It works. Good job.


Premise: It's just before first pitch. A little girl in the crowd starts the "Swing! Batter Batter! Swing!" chant which becomes contagious. The whole stadium starts chanting and cheering to distract the hitter. Then everyone in the city who's listening. As Jake Peavy winds up, he says, "Ain't no battle" and proceeds to get a swinging strike.

Execution: Great idea. I haven't heard some of these chants, though. The little girl starts with "Swing! Batter Batter! Swing!" Cool. Got it. The dude who follows her lead goes, "Batter Batter -- SWING! Batter Batter -- SWING!" and I'm already out. Never heard someone say it that way before. Then another section of the crowd says in this very slow rhythm, "Batter Batter Batter SWING! Batter Batter Batter SWING!" Then the bleachers say, "Bat can't hit! Bat can't hit! SWING!" Then we cut to Kruk & Kuip in the booth. They shrug and join in with "Hey batter! Hey batter!" Then we get people in a bar, a street cop, a garage band, a little kid listening on the radio all saying things we've all heard, before we cut back to the stadium where they're saying something I can't make out, just before Peavy says his line.

Maybe there are regional differences to batter distraction chants. Or maybe they made some of this up?

"Bochy's Hat"

Premise: Bruce Bochy is tasked with coming up with new ideas for the Giants' ad campaign.

Execution: Bruce Bochy acting like a buffoon will always be funny. He has no ego about doing comedy and that's usually why it works so well when he does it. Quibble with the performance all you want, but there probably isn't another Major League manager who could've sold moving in virtual reality like he does here.

5 out of 4 virtual realities. Would relive again.

"Hunter's Pitch"

Premise: Hunter Pence gives a fiery speech in front of a Glenn Beckesque picture board featuring Giants faces and buzz words like "ORGANIZATION" (always a word that gets people buzzing), "COMMUNITY" and "GIANT" in order to pump us up for the coming season.

Execution: A new wrinkle for this year's campaign is the addition of a narrator. He usually sets up the premise for the ad (typically some variation of "We wanted to take a bold new approach to this season['s ads]") and in a couple of cases gets the closing line (which are hella bro-y).

In this one, the Voice says, "Mic drop" after Hunter concludes his fiery speech. First, it's an overused idea, the mic drop. It has been so thoroughly appropriated by pop culture, too, that adding it to the end of a commercial is the clearest evidence that it's a dead term now.

Then, you have to wonder why it needed to be added in post instead of put in the script and spoken by Pence. I don't think he'd have an objection to it (the players seem like they'll say whatever's in the script, which has already been heavily vetted by the team), so the most logical explanation is that it was added by someone who saw a cut of the ad and said, "It needs to end on a strong note. Something cool and tough-sounding. Really get people fired up." Except, "mic drop" is the national chain store version of tough-hip talk. And Hunter Pence isn't trying to fire up constituents who just watched him win a rap battle, he's firing up a fan base for the upcoming season. So this is a short cut added at the last second to sell the idea promised in the premise.

When Hunter Pence talks about the SF hat he wears, he says, "I wear it, Willie wears it, you wear it, we all wear it" -- wouldn't it have been cool to cut to Willie Mays and/or reuse some of that crowd footage shot for the other ads? It's a static shot in front of two black boards covered in random pictures. The ad hangs on Pence, and he does a great job of ONCE AGAIN pretending to give a fiery speech. I say pretend because the Pence speech bit is itself tired. I feel bad for the guy. That was a moment in time -- it worked for 2012. But now it's the easy gag that advertisers and lazy national writers go back to when they're looking for something to say with or about Hunter Pence.

Maybe next year, they could invert the idea and have one of the young or new players ask Hunter Pence for advice on how to give a fiery speech and it can be more of a training montage-type thing.

Finally, regarding the Voice: if it's not the actual guy, then it's the runner up to the guy who did those Carl's Jr. ads from not too long ago. You know the ones I'm talking about -- "If it doesn't get all over the place, it doesn't belong in your face." He's an odd choice because he tonally doesn't fit with the Giants. IN MY OPINION.

"Mi Amor Dos"

Premise: The Mexican soap opera ad from 2014 gets a sequel. This time, Javier Lopez joins a passionate Romo and a befuddled Posey to confidently tell them about the Giants' various promotions for 2016.

Execution: It's worth it for this line alone: "They have an endless list of items they can throw a Giants logo on, and a clubhouse... full of adorable players." If this wasn't in the original copy, I'm confident it was Javier Lopez himself who wrote the line.


Premise: A woman at a farmer's market thinks it's pretty cool that the Giants have so much homegrown talent. Then she wonders how they're so good at developing it. Matt Duffy, Joe Panik, Matt Cain, and Buster Posey give their thoughts on the matter. "Farm to table is old news," she says. "We're into the farm to plate movement," adds Buster Posey.

Execution: Solid use of trendy/progressive thinking to smuggle in some good thoughts about the Giants. They do have lots of homegrown players.

This ad seems like a good one for grabbing casual fans, though you have to wonder how many people in and around San Francisco are still on the fence about a championship baseball time after 6 years. Surely, peak "bandwagoning" already happened.

"Panik's Spot"

Premise: The advertising agency wanted to try a "bold new approach" this season, so they have Joe Panik create the ad about himself. It winds up being a highlight reel for Joe Panik -- which is good!

Execution: Here's what I think is funny about this spot: it secretly agrees with the notion that Joe Panik is the vanilla of vanillas. The ad wizards couldn't even come up with a clever title for this one and the premise is basically, "Ehhhh, why don't you tell us a little about yourself, Joe?" as though they couldn't figure him out or a hook for an ad that features him, but they knew, on account of his popularity (which stems from him being good when healthy), that they needed to do a spot with him.

If Joe Panik is Buster Posey's clone, then he's clearly a clone in the style of MULTIPLICITY, where each clone is slightly less... charismatic.

"Rebrand Brandon"

Premise: Brandon Belt is tired of being made to look like a goofball in these Giants ad campaigns. He wants to "rebrand"!

Execution: It works and it's funny and you should watch it. Brandon Belt combines all the things he thinks makes a tough guy into one persona. But no matter what he does, he'll always be Brandon Belt.

Now, this is a great idea for an ad, really, but at the same time presents a side of our culture I would rather we had evolved away from, and that's the idea of "branding" as it relates to human beings. We are not assets or commodities or units or widgets. We're people. It's fun to make fun of corporate speak and accounting jargon, but it's really tough when the joke becomes the norm. Watch MLB Network for any length of time and you will frequently hear players -- flesh and blood human beings -- referred to as property. Their "owners" have "rights" to a player.

Yes, this ad is funny, but its premise is based on a troubling reality.

"Buster MVP"

Premise: A little girl tells us that Buster Posey is the MVP: Most Valuable Person. He's so great that if there's a tired little kid at the game, he'll hit a walk-off to end it so the kid can go home to sleep.

Execution: Anytime you can get a little kid to talk about a hero, you've won. Also, we all make jokes about how considerate Buster Posey is as a baseball player. I bet he really has hit walk-offs for this reason.

"Big Data Cain"

Premise: Matt Cain checks the numbers to see why Giants fans love the team so much. It turns out, the answer is the color orange.

Execution: Matt Cain running regression analyses on a Mac amuses me. Still, I desperately want a commercial where Matt Cain tries to sell us Cain-flavored "bone chips".

"Crawford Conspiracy"

Premise: Is Brandon Crawford really two people? One that's all-glove and one that's all-bat?

Execution: The ad answers this question affirmatively! I think this is weird! The ad condones the idea that Brandon Crawford isn't good enough to be so good at both offense and defense.

There are so many other angles to go with Brandon Crawford. Why not something Game of Thrones-related, given his vague resemblance to Jon Snow. Or maybe an Orange Wedding, since he also kinda looks vaguely Robb Stark-ish?

"Wolf of AT&T Park"

Premise: Matt Duffy's a natural at selling you, the fan, on coming out to the park to watch a game.

Execution: WALL STREET and WOLF OF WALL STREET references don't seem all that hip, but Matt Duffy sells the heck out of this and for that reason I appreciate it.

"Crawford Destiny"

Premise: Brandon Crawford was *born* to be a Giant. It was always his destiny. He's "the man with the golden glove", as the old newspaper photo foretold. This is the ad that recreates the famous photo of little Brandon Crawford at Candlestick Park when the Giants were on the verge of moving to Florida.

Execution: Recreating that photo is a marvelous idea. I think a more mythic ad here might've been fun. As it stands, some random Giants fan off the street (clearly an actor) narrates the story for us to far less effect. The "man on the street" casually telling a "true story" is another advertising trope that should probably be dropped. It's never convincing. It's another way of tying the community into the team's lore, a key component of this entire campaign, but when you're already recreating Mexican soap operas why not take some more opportunities to go even bigger?

"Orange Steel"

Premise: Buster Posey basically does a bad Zoolander impression to show off his famous face.

Execution: Boy, I bet the ad wizards who came up with this one was going to be both timely and evergreen. It was impossible to predict that ZOOLANDER 2 would be so bad that it would tarnish all positive memories people have of the Zoolander concept.

"Big Game Hunter"

Premise: Hunter Pence is such a cool guy that he's able to play to the crowd *and* be a part of it.

Execution: A dude at a bar stops playing pool to talk to us about how awesome Hunter Pence is. He's a man of the people, you see, and since We Are SF. We Are Giant. a man of the people is one of us, and we are him...

I just voiced my displeasure of the false "man on the street" bit, and here's an even better example of why it doesn't work. It feels muddled to mix the "one of us" stuff with the "Hunter Pence is a big game player".

"Romo's Snapchat Story"

Premise: Sergio Romo takes over the Giants' Snapchat and gives us a behind the scenes look at the making of these commercials.

Execution: Computer: what is Snapchat?

While I try to figure that out, know that there's not enough personality in this ad to distinguish it from an ad for Snapchat itself. What would've happened if they had really let Sergio Romo do whatever he wanted?

"Span, Like Buster"

Premise: Span says, "Just make me look as cool as Buster." Catcher's gear falls from the sky. But Denard Span doesn't know how to put on catcher's gear! COMEDY!

Execution: I think I get the impulse to pair the new guy with the star player to get how he fits with the team, but this is such a weird ad that it suggests once again that the people behind the campaign don't know a lot about baseball in general. A much better ad would've been Denard Span showing off his skills, either to us or to his new teammates.

* Duffy: "Hey Denard, is it true you're faster than me?" Span: "I don't know. Maybe."

* Bumgarner: "Is it true you're nicer than me?" Span: "I don't know, Bum. Probably."

* Belt: "Hey Denard, is it true you're -- {Belt trips and falls into a laundry cart}." Span: (laughing) "You're clumsy,              Belt!" (everybody laughs)

* * *

As always, there's some good stuff in here. Lots of fun. It's always cool to see the players hangin' loose and doing something team-related but not specifically playing the game of baseball. And I think you'll agree that it's easier for fans to forgive a bad line reading over a bad swing or pitch. Really, this could've just been a post of .gifs.

All .gifs and this Vine: