Mud Hens uniforms featured in national Pepsi adWritten by Tom Konecny | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Every minor-leaguer knows it takes talent and hard work to make it to the national stage, but a little luck doesn’t hurt either. The same goes for uniforms.
That’s because Toledo Mud Hens’ jerseys and hats were featured in a Pepsi TV commercial during last night’s Major League Baseball All-Star Game on FOX. The uniforms appeared by way of a Franklin, Wisconsin, adult men’s baseball team named the Milwaukee Mud Hens.
Pepsi filmed the commercial on June 18, and both Minor League Baseball officials and Pepsi allowed the Toledo Mud Hens to view the ad last Friday for their approval before it aired.
“We said we were fine with it because we love the national exposure,” said Craig Katz, director of merchandise and licensing. “It gives the brand national exposure during a marquee event.”
How Hens gear ended up in the ad is where luck comes in. Six years ago, a group of men in a Milwaukee suburb formed a rec league baseball team and they needed a name.
“We scoured the minor leagues and its teams, and tried to come up with the coolest name,” said Tom Johns, a Milwaukee Mud Hens player. “We like the Mud Hens, Tigers and Royals. After a team vote, Mud Hens was overwhelmingly the winner. They’re certainly very well known in all of the minor leagues.”
The league it played in, however, required teams to have quality-looking, professional-grade jerseys. So the team ordered its jerseys direct from the Swamp Shop, something Katz says happens regularly among little league and rec teams.
“It’s really the correct way to do it because it’s licensed, and they’re using one of our trademarks,” Katz said.
Pepsi approached the Milwaukee Brewers about their ad idea, which was to surprise an everyday rec league team by suddenly moving their game to a major league stadium. The Brewers began looking for a nearby league and centered on Franklin, which is located just 10 miles south of Milwaukee, which Johns said has the second largest men’s baseball league in the nation.
Once the Brewers had identified the right league, it was up to Johns, who serves as the league complex’s director of baseball operations, to select the teams.
“I’ve learned enough to know that when you’re the one who’s doing all the work, you might as well take the spotlight,” Johns said. “And, I wanted to do this for my teammates, my brothers. So, I didn’t mind taking the spotlight.”
Johns was one of only three who knew of the surprise, so the reactions shown in the ad was real and authentic, right down to their uniforms.
“We do have the best jerseys,” Johns said. “We have the absolute best jersey in the league hands-down. We love that Mud Hens logo. You can tell now that there’s an underground movement in the league for everyone else to beat us in jerseys.”
For now, the Milwaukee Mud Hens plan to enjoy their moment in the TV sun, and would welcome a chance to go on an even farther road trip.
“I want to go to a [Toledo] Mud Hens game so bad,” Johns said, insisting that if the Toledo team was to invite them, he’d organize a trip in an instant, because they closely follow their namesake on the field and in attire.
“Absolutely, we follow their latest offerings,” Johns said. “When they do those special uniforms, it always circulates to our team on email.”
The Pepsi TV ad can be viewed on YouTube here.