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Red, blue clash in baseball ad rivalry

The Angels slap more halos on L.A. billboards. The Dodgers plan their own marketing blitz.

March 17, 2007|Alana Semuels | Times Staff Writer

In baseball, it always comes down to who has the best pitch.

The Angels took the lead in late February when they slapped their red logo on scores of billboards and bus shelters around Los Angeles to promote the team on traditional Dodgers turf.

Now, the Dodgers are on deck, stepping up to the plate this weekend with a campaign urging fans to "Get Into the Blue."

The marketing blitz comes as both teams hope to extend a two-year streak that saw their combined attendance top 7 million.

The Angels' billboards, each showing an A with a halo, are part of the Angels' biggest marketing campaign since Arte Moreno, who made his fortune in outdoor advertising, bought the team from Walt Disney Co. in 2003.

Moreno, saying he didn't buy a small-market team, has sought to aggressively market the Angels beyond its Orange County base. He changed its name from the Anaheim Angels to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, successfully fending off a lawsuit by Anaheim officials who objected to the switch.

The Angels expect to have 1,200 of the billboards visible in the L.A. area until the beginning of April, up from 480 billboards in 2005.

Some of the Angels ads are virtually in the shadow of Dodger Stadium, which the teams shared in the early 1960s before the Angels headed south.

Not to be outshone on their home turf, the Dodgers plan to launch a marketing onslaught that the team says celebrates the loyalty of its fans.

The campaign plan calls for television spots and ads on movie theaters, plasma video monitors, milk containers, buses and billboards. The billboards are tinted blue and feature players such as starting pitcher Derek Lowe, shots of Dodger Stadium and the slogan "Get Into the Blue."

The Angels' effort to establish a brand in L.A. is more likely to bring casual fans to the stadium than to convert die-hard Dodgers fans, said David M. Carter, executive director of the USC Sports Business Institute.

In the end, it's possible that both teams will win in the billboard battle.

"As both teams have become more active in advertising," Carter said, "consumption of baseball has gone up."

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alana.semuels@latimes.com

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