FOR THE H OF IT

Ken Hoffman uncovers the origin of the Astros 2020 slogan

Photo by Getty Images

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

It happens every spring, the Houston Astros come up with a slogan intended to rally the fans and get the town excited about baseball again. Some examples from recent years: "We Are Your Astros" (2011), "Root. Root. Root. (2012), "Earn History" (2017), "Never Settle" (2018), and "Take It Back" (2019).

For 2020, this year of redemption, the Astros want everybody to know they're doing it "For the H." The Astros want "For the H" to be as ubiquitous as "Keep America Great" or "Not me. Us" (maybe) or "Mike Gets It Done" (pending) and stick around just as long. That would be World Series time in November.

The Astros didn't go with the first light bulb that popped over a mid-level manager's head. Here's all the staff meetings, focus groups, and running up the flagpole that go into the team slogan — from first brainstorm to the sign outside Minute Maid Park — courtesy of Anita Sehgal, Astros senior vice president of marketing and communications.

CultureMap: How long ago did you start thinking up the campaign slogan for 2020?

Anita Sehgal: We started in November — shortly after the World Series. We have used 'For the H' on and off within other campaigns and this year felt right to elevate it and develop a campaign around it.

CM: How important to the Astros is a good slogan that connects with fans and the community?

AS: Incredibly important. Our campaign every year is intended to provide a rallying cry for our fans, players and the community. We want our fans to have a true emotional connection with our team. It is also important that we look at a fully integrated campaign – not just a slogan. Our marketing team wants to ensure our theme is more than just words.

CM: What is the process? How many steps up the corporate ladder before owner Jim Crane gives a thumbs up?

AS: The marketing team leads the process for campaign development. We anchor our process in fan insight. We take our inspiration from how our fans, players, and influencers speak about why they love the Astros and what they look forward to. The team develops mood boards, tagline options and a few design options for consideration.

The team also spends a lot of time developing creative and content ideas on how the campaign will come to life and sustain itself for a full season. It is a collaborative process among many departments within marketing. We generally go through a few iterations until ultimately I sign off and share with our entire executive team, including Jim. Once our executive team has had input, we finalize the campaign and prep it for launch.

CM: How long between first thought to the final okay?

AS: Our campaign process generally takes about two months.

CM: Was the slogan devised in-house or did the Astros go to Madison Avenue for a slogan specialist?

AS: We have an unbelievably talented marketing department in-house that takes this task on every year.

CM: It's unusual that our XFL team, the Roughnecks, also is using "For the H" as its slogan. Are the Astros okay with that? Who came first? Was it done in collaboration?

Continue on CultureMap to find out if the Roughnecks and Astros collaborated on the slogan.