Hites Hits a Home Run

Blue Man Group helps promote Dodgers' move to KCAL

Marshall Hites has seen the face of Dodgers baseball on KCAL Los Angeles—and it is blue.

Hites, VP of creative services, advertising and marketing at KCBS and KCAL, is behind a new campaign featuring the Blue Man Group to promote the ball club's inaugural season on the CBS affiliate.

The enigmatic blue-faced performers have built a franchise with an act that combines splattered paint, kinetic drumming on PVC piping, and the occasional flourish of toilet paper flung over audiences. But what does all this have to do with America's favorite pastime?

“We wanted to do something new, different and have the recall of this campaign to be very high,” Hites says. “The final goal was all about bringing people back to television to watch baseball.”

Hites, a Brand Builders Award winner in 2003, will receive his second this week at the Promax/BDA conference in New York. He believes the Blue Man Group shares two qualities with the Dodgers: Both have a preference for the color blue, and both are fun for the whole family to watch.

The KCAL campaign kicked off in March for preseason baseball and will include about seven spots throughout the season. In the first, the three-member group watches a Dodgers game on TV. Inspired by the action on the field, they launch a distinctly Blue Man rendition of the game, with a floor lamp for a bat and blue paint-filled balloons for balls.

The resulting chaos ends with paint splashed everywhere, including a giant blotch on the wall that becomes the K in KCAL.

One challenge facing Hites was to make viewers aware that Dodgers games are now airing on KCAL after many years on competing stations. (Market research shows that viewers are now well aware, he says.) In addition, he and his team were tasked with drumming up interest in baseball while other sports, including the NBA's Los Angeles Lakers, were vying for fans' attention.

Ultimately, he wants viewers to think of the broadcasts as more than just a ballgame.

“When people think of the Dodgers, they think of it as a sporting event, rather than an entertainment experience,” Hites says. “We want people to think of this as an experience the whole family can take part in.”