Emotional abuse? Makers of 'Cubs Win!' ad wanted to toy with emotions

March 07, 2012|Georgia Garvey, RedEye

It's a moment many Cubs fans worry they'll never see: The city in riotous celebration of a World Series championship more than 100 years in the making.

The heartbreaker, though, is that "Cubs Win!" is a commercial for the new Sony PlayStation game "MLB 12 The Show" and not real life. But those emotions, the sheer joy of victory and the sadness of the return to reality, were exactly what the creators intended to bring out, said Scott McCarthy of Sony Computer Entertainment America.

"There have been many, many very, very positive reactions, 'I'm tearing up over here,' reactions, and then there have been some reactions [saying], 'please don't do this to me,' from Cubs fans," he said. It’s all about inspiring the same kind of visceral response you might get from playing the video game. "If a game's realistic, it's going to make you feel something."

Jason Elm of Deutsch Los Angeles, the ad agency responsible for the spot, said the creative team's writer and art director are both Chicagoans, as were the extras and actors in the commercial.

"We really set out to make this authentic celebration of what it will be like when it happens," he said.

The shoot, in mid-February, took place solely in Chicago locations, including Wrigley Field, with select portions (such as the "Cubs win" building lights) being added post-production, Elm said. The only stock footage used was of a TV news helicopter shot of a teeming crowd of fans. In Wrigley, the roughly 150 extras were so enthusiastic, the director was blown away, he said.

"Usually the challenge is to whip those people into a believable frenzy, and the challenge was actually getting them to like stop screaming and yelling when the tape was over," Elm said. "It was really neat."

During shooting, he said, there was a bit of Twitter buzz and one local TV station reported traffic delays from a commercial filming, but for the most part, the surprise was intact until the commercial’s release.

McCarthy said MLB and the Cubs provided invaluable support.

The Cubs "participated simply by giving us access as well as really making sure that we were being honorable to the Cubs organization, the Cubs franchise and the brand of the Chicago Cubs," he said.

Though some Cubs fans may have walked away from the commercial down in the dumps pondering the what-ifs of ultimate victory, Elm's not doubtful at all. He predicts a World Series championship.

"The intent of the commercial was, 'anything's possible,'" he said. "When it does happen--and it will-- it's gonna be great."

ggarvey@Tribune.com | @gcgarvey

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