Commercials Begin in Peoria but our Thoughts are in Seattle

Braclets

Blue and orange bracelets with STEVE on it have been worn by members of the Mariners front office.

Since 1993, the Seattle Mariners have trained in Peoria, Arizona. And since 1994, another segment of the Mariners family has descended upon Peoria every February with the exception of one year. It’s the creative and production team which works on the Mariners television commercials. This group is the team that I have been privileged to work with for nearly 20 years.

The first year we produced four spots: Lou Piniella as a very unsympathetic therapist, Jay Buhner as a not-so-funny comedian, Chris Bosio as a rather violent dentist and Randy Johnson as circus performer who threw knives a bit wildly. The theme of the campaign was “Aren’t you glad they play for the Mariners instead.” And with that, one of the longest-running television properties in professional sports marketing was born. We have since produced over 100 of these player-based commercials. They have won both local and national awards. They even resulted in a giveaway at Safeco Field when we produced two DVD’s which included the first 100 commercials produced.

Steve and Mariners Marketing Manager Michael Ferguson on Turn Back the Clock Day.

Steve and Mariners Marketing Manager Michael Ferguson on Turn Back the Clock Day.

We just arrived in Peoria this year with the hopes of producing another batch of Mariners commercials. Weather permitting, we plan to shoot six new spots as part of this on-going Seattle tradition. The core of this creative and production team remains the same: Jim Copacino, the principal at our ad agency, Copacino+Fujikado, is at the top of our lineup. Jim is one of the most talented people I have ever worked with. He’s a student and a fan of the game baseball and he is able to combine that with a truckload of creativity. Alongside Jim are Ron Gross and Bill Hoare of Blue Goose Productions. Ron is our director and Bill is our executive producer.  Most commercial shoots for products you see on television take anywhere from 10 hours to 3 days, sometimes weeks. We ask Ron and Bill to get each spot in two hours. Talk about crunch time! These guys have been a blessing to work with and have never botched a shoot. Petr Litomisky is our director of photography and is part of Blue Goose. Petr (no that’s not a spelling mistake, that’s how spells it) joins us each spring from Los Angeles. He is immensely talented and his wild sense of humor has connected with many of our players. In fact, on my way to the airport on Friday, I received texts from Jay Buhner and Dan Wilson mentioning to please say hello to Petr! He is family.

It is, indeed, a family. Twenty years with the same folks in business is extraordinary, especially in the short-attention-span, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately, 140-character world in which we live. However, this year’s trip to Peoria for our Mariners “commercials” family is incredibly difficult. We are without the other person who has been with us every step of the way.

Steve with Joel Pineiro and Jeremy Reed.

Steve with Joel Pineiro and Jeremy Reed.

Steve Cunetta, the senior account supervisor at Copacino+Fujikado, is in Seattle battling cancer and is unable be with us here in Peoria. Steve is as important to our team as any of the other members I mentioned above. His contributions to Mariners advertising, especially the television commercials, are too many to mention. Steve is a fiery blend of passion, professionalism, creativity and thoughtfulness. While his two sons have always been his priority, his love for Mariners Baseball comes in a pretty close second!

Steve has been in and out of the hospital throughout the better part of 2012 and now into the new year. He works hard to rebound from his chemo treatments and his attitude is inspirational. While unable to attend one of our big creative sessions last December, Steve insisted that we “Skype” him into the meeting. When we were unsure about a particular spot, we all looked to the iPad on the table to see what his facial expression was in regards to the conversation. Then, everyone around the table went quiet and we turned to Steve to hear what he thought. As always, Steve would make a point that the rest of us were missing. He is a true pro and his dedication to his family, his profession and the Mariners is unmatched.

Steve playing catch Jerry (aka Felix Hernandez).

Steve playing catch Jerry (aka Felix Hernandez).

While we are excited to embark on a new set of spots this year, all of us are thinking of Steve.

The good news is the Peoria Sports Complex has excellent wireless internet and we brought our tablets so Steve can be with us…every step of the way!

- Kevin Martinez, Seattle Mariners VP of Marketing

6 Comments

The blue and orange color scheme of the “Steve” bracelets are a nod to his Brooklyn roots. Steve grew up a rabid Mets fan, but he moved to Seattle in 1990 and became a Son of the Starball.

well done Kevin…Steve Cunetta is a big hero and friend and daily inspiration to all of us…keep up the good fight my friend

Steve Cunetta is a true professional in every sense of the word. He can tell a tale like no other. Keep fighting Steve, I know this is a battle you can win and add to your long list of amazing stories that have happened to you.

Great post, Kevin. Thanks for sharing. Get well soon, Steve.

Beautiful piece, Kevin. Family indeed.

community, grace and positivity all around. it is a beautiful thing.

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