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'Bryzzo,' an oral history: The stories behind MLB's hilarious ad campaign

Teddy Greenstein, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Baseball

"Let's just say it's been a big year for the Bryzzo Souvenir Company."

Kris Bryant ain't lying. Life is good when Kyle Schwarber is vying to be your Employee of the Month. When David Ross is your desperate-to-please intern. When Eddie Vedder creates your jingle. When President Barack Obama plugs you during a White House visit, saying: "The Bryzzo Souvenir Company, which delivers baseballs to fans in all parts of the bleachers ..."

And -- oh, yes -- when you connect with your co-CEO, Anthony Rizzo, for the final out of the 2016 World Series.

So how did "Bryzzo" become a thing? How did those hilarious Major League Baseball ads get made? And what's next?

"We're going global," Bryant promised.

Let's start small, with the origins.

In April 2015, MLB announced it had hired Anomaly, an ad agency based in New York, to create content for its "This Is Baseball" campaign. MLB's stated goal was to "provide a documentary-style, up-close look at the players, managers and fans, including behind-the-scenes footage."

--Lance Gitlin, VP of brand advertising and marketing for MLB: Year 1 of the campaign focused on what was happening on the field. We wanted something different in 2016. Anomaly came to us with different ideas; one that stood out to us was the Bryzzo concept.

Chicago Tribune baseball columnist Paul Sullivan had asked in a column published on May 13, 2015: "Could Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo make 'Brizzo' the next catchphrase?"

In the piece, Bryant joked about Rizzo referring to the pair as the "Bash Brothers" -- a reference to former A's sluggers Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire -- and said, "We don't have big enough forearms" to do the smash.

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