It was the photo that launched thousands of tweets, posts and comments. Late Monday night as TBS Network's post-game show picked through the pieces of the Cleveland Indians' sweep of the Boston Red Sox, it ran a sophomoric "Welcome to Cleveland" teaser still for the upcoming ALCS series opener Friday night in Cleveland against the Toronto Blue Jays.
One game earlier LeBron James pumped the Progressive Field crowd up by saying "It's Cleveland Against the World" and then TBS's ham-handed attempt at humor lit a match to that lingering sentiment. By now you've heard how the burning river image was of a large oil fire from a ruptured underground pipeline that happened last year in Russia. The TBS created image wasn't on the TV screen long, but the idea of a broadcast network bashing Cleveland was unacceptable to many.
In just over 24 hours the #CLEvsTBS hashtag amassed 327,000 impressions.
On Tuesday morning Cleveland's local news outlets posted TBS' image on their websites and social channels and the "what the hell" reaction was swift. Some like Jeff Scheid, mirrored TBS's snarky tone with "examples" from Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and our favorite, Toronto. Others provided photographs of their favorite Cleveland locations, many of them along Cleveland's waterfront.
Cleveland 19 immediately saw the potential to turn TBS' shin-kicking burning river image into something positive and provided viewers a #CLEvsTBS hashtag and details on how to contact TBS.
Amanda Harnocz, Digital Content Executive Producer at Channel 19, described how she and her colleagues met after posting the initial story on the image. "We're proud of Cleveland, and while we can take a joke, we felt we had to hold TBS accountable". "We didn't want it to be an attack, instead we wanted to make it a positive thing so we put the #CLEvsTBS hashtag out there and it just took off". In just over 24 hours the #CLEvsTBS hashtag amassed 327,000 impressions.
Harnocz added "After our noon broadcast we started getting more pictures in and as the day went on, it kept picking up and around 4 pm, it was the top trending hashtag in Cleveland". TBS eventually issued a statement where it said "Cleveland is a great city and we regret the use of the image". When asked what she hoped would be TBS' response to the #CLEvsTBS campaign, Harnocz shared "Don't make fun of us, show Cleveland as the beautiful city it is!"
TBS even managed to put longtime WEWS Cleveland anchor Leon Bibb in a particularly feisty mood. His passionate and personal response has been shared and viewed by thousands. Check out his video by clicking the below image.
At times Share the River has felt a little lonely as we've cordially responded to social jabs poking fun at Cleveland and its historic river. But yesterday's vocal and creative community response is proof that we're not alone when it comes to singing the praises of Cleveland's resurgence. Now let's get on to bringing Cleveland's 2nd 2016 world championship home!