- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 22, 2002

Major League Baseball, historically not prone to good timing, yesterday released a new TV ad campaign titled "Dynamic Superhumans" less than a month after revelations of extensive steroid use within the game.

In the animated spots, designed by ad industry powerhouse McCann-Erickson, several star players, including Randy Johnson, Derek Jeter and Sammy Sosa, are drawn with larger-than-life body features, such as oversized, rippling muscles, and are depicted performing unrealistic physical feats.

The stated goal of the campaign is to lure 18-to-34-year-olds not following baseball and will promote next month's All-Star Game and Home Run Derby. This is the first MLB ad effort in which spots will air worldwide. The ads will debut today during Fox's national coverage.

An MLB statement quotes McCann-Erickson deputy creative director Irwin Warren saying, "Major League Baseball players are larger than life; they do the athletic equivalent of leaping tall buildings in a single bound."

Baseball, however, has been under fire for the last several weeks as details of widespread use of steroids have become public. Retired sluggers Jose Canseco and Ken Caminiti have admitted heavy steroid use to gain bulk and strength while playing and said the majority of their fellow players do as well. Since those comments, debate has been heavy about the true percentage of ballplayers who use steroids. But there is no debate the game has a serious issue with performance-enhancing agents, and the integrity of the game's hallowed records has been called into question.

"When I see cartoons and editorials that attack baseball's credibility, we have a major problem," said Arizona Diamondbacks owner Jerry Colangelo, who testified on Capitol Hill on Tuesday on the issue.

Officials for the MLB Players Association were not available yesterday to comment on the ad campaign.

MLB officials also declined to comment yesterday, but Tim Brosnan, MLB vice president for business, said in a statement, "This [advertising] approach positions the game as entertaining and relevant, reaching beyond current fans to embrace an expanded target audience."

Baseball has been known to shoot itself in the foot before at inappropriate times. The 1994 strike came during an undisputed height in the game's popularity and when several hitters were chasing the single-season home run record, then still held by Roger Maris. And the start of MLB's effort to eliminate at least two franchises came just two days after the 2001 World Series, one of the most dramatic in history.

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