First and foremost, as much as it pains me as a Cardinals fan to say this, congrats to the Chicago Cubs on their upcoming trip to the World Series.
This whole season there have been silly sayings coming from Cubs fans and the organization in various forms. "It's happening", "Try not to suck", "Just one more before I die", are all phrases I've heard since oh, about the first day of Spring Training (I'm around Cubs fans regularly..). Cubs fans have been waiting for a long time, I get it, but can't they come up with something better?
Here's the truth, they didn't and don't need to!
Everyone has seen sports marketing, each year there's a theme, no matter how well or how poorly your team did the previous year, there is always a theme. The Cubs organization has been putting out mottos.. and themes.. and slogans.. and advertisements.. and whatever else they could to keep Wrigley full and people interested, without the key element of success, for years. Marketing departments can release hype videos, create awesome billboards, plan unique promotions, but they can't make a team win. Granted the Cubs are one of the lucky teams that have a great fan base and can still keep Wrigley (and Wrigleyville) popular each year, but it's been 108 years since a World Series win, even the best fans would get discouraged!
My point is that if we all thought about it, we'd probably have at least a few marketing campaigns from our favorite teams stick out because they were witty or had a cool meaning. The Royal's used "Take the Crown" during their two year run, the Cardinals have used "Where Tradition Meets Today" recently. If you look at the NCAA, most schools have their catch phrase or saying, but individual teams have mottos as well, "Our Town, Our Team", "Show-Me", "Commit to Excellence", and so, so many others. Marketing departments are creative and are really good at this stuff, but when your team has been plagued by curses or series of unfortunate events, how do you continue being creative and creating that "hype"? Sometimes it just doesn't need to be that difficult and I think the Cubs really embraced that this year.
Starting with Joe Madden rocking the "Try not to suck" shirt, it was obvious that the Cubs could poke fun at themselves a little bit, but had expectations for themselves.
Fans caught on.
Sure, it is easier to embrace a rough past when your future looks as bright as the Chicago Cubs future looked this April, or even April of 2015, but instead of going overboard with extravagant marketing and "hype" tactics, the simple has out shined the complex.
"It's happening", might be the broadest and most basic saying we've ever heard in a situation like this, but it works. At first it seemed like "it's happening" just meant they had talent, they'd compete with the top teams, but with the help of Theo epstein and Joe Madden, the farm system, the major league roster, and the organization as a whole has quickly and suddenly become elite. As both a Cardinals fan and someone who communicates daily with people from Chicago, I've been aware of this improvement from the beginning. With that being said, now I don't think it matters where you're at, if you are a baseball fan of any sort and you hear or see "it's happening" from a Cubs fan, you know what it's referring to and that it is happening. Sometimes marketing doesn't need to be difficult, sometimes it just needs to be true. "It's happening" has transformed from a way that the fans showed that they knew talent was coming.. to making the 2015 playoffs.. to winning the NL Central in 2016.. all the way to now, where they've made it to the World Series. "It's happening" is suddenly a phrase that can pump up Cubs fans and make rival fans roll their eyes. It's a phrase that represents hope, patience, and excitement. It's a phrase that is so simple, but has such significant meaning to the Cub fans that it may be one of the best and most successful slogans they've had in years. It works because it's true.
Thanks for giving us (baseball fans and people in the sports industry) a reminder that sometimes the simple and true is better than the extravagant and flashy.
So congrats Cubs fans, it is indeed happening.