Results tagged ‘ promotions ’
Over the past two weeks I have spent a heroic amount of time combing through the promotional schedules of Minor League full season teams, in search of the best, brightest, weirdest and wackiest innovations that will be on offer during the 2013 campaign.
As always, this was a LOT of information to digest, especially since there are many teams that schedule multiple promotions for each and every contest. Such promo overload is the inevitable result of the industry’s never-ending quest to be all things to all people, and as an added bonus it sometimes provides unintentional comedy fodder. (The best example of this comes courtesy of an Eastern League club that shall remain anonymous, who in 2011 scheduled “Tribute to Michael Jackson” on the same evening as “Boy Scout Sleepover Night.”)
What follows is a brief list of absurd and/or incongruous promo combinations scheduled for the 2013 season. Maybe one of them will be incongruously taking place at a ballpark near you! (And, of course, if you have further examples then please send ‘em my way.)
Akron Aeros — International Juggler’s Day/Thirsty Thursday
This can’t end well.
Kannapolis Intimidators — $2 16 oz Budweiser drafts/Operation Family Time (May 17)
Spending time with the family can be stressful, but the Intimidators are offering a way to take the edge off.
Myrtle Beach Pelicans — Hangover Night/Thirsty Thursday (May 23)
Seems like “Hangover Night” would make more sense on May 24th…
Omaha Storm Chasers — Superhero Cape Giveaway/Diaper Derby (June 8)
Perhaps unprepared Diaper Derby participants could just use the cape?
Lakewood BlueClaws — Cecil Fielder Appearance/Wing Fling (June 12)
While perhaps not quite as rotund as his immodestly-named son, Tigers slugger Prince, there’s no denying that Cecil Fielder was one of the largest individuals to ever don a Major League uniform. He’s scheduled to sign autographs at Lakewood’s FirstEnergy Park on June 12, during which the BlueClaws will also be staging a “Wing Fling.” Local restaurateurs will compete in a “best wing” contest, and it seems to me that Cecil would be the perfect judge. And if he’s moved to participate in the scheduled “wing-eating contest”? Forget about it…
Quad Cities River Bandits — “Ghost Rider” Cowboy Monkeys/John Deere Night (June 15)
The Cowboy Monkeys usually ride border collies, but perhaps on this special evening they could ride a tractor instead.
Frederick Keys — Meet the Team/Pajama Night (June 23)
Finally — a socially acceptable way to mingle with professional athletes in an outdoor setting while wearing a bathrobe.
Frederick Keys — Military and Civilians Night (July 31st)
Or, as I like to call it — “Everybody Night.”
Hickory Crawdads — Kids Run the Show/Unemployment Night (August 7)
Well, yeah — when kids are running the show then the adults are out of a job!
I’ve got plenty more where this came from, and I’m sorry if that sounds like a threat.
When it comes to political gaffes, Marco Rubio’s nationally televised cotton-mouthed lunge for a water bottle ranks as a pretty minor one.
And now, of course, it has become Minor. This past Thursday, the Fort Myers Miracle announced that they will be staging a “Marco Rubio Water Bottle Giveaway” at a to-be-determined point during the 2013 season.
Fans entering Hammond Stadium will receive a water bottle while being encouraged to gather in the shady parts of the ballpark to stay cool when the heat is on and prevent perspiration. The Miracle will help recreate Rubio’s thirst-quenching moment on national television by setting up a booth where fans can put on a sports jacket, stand in front of a set and down some high-quality H2O.
Those picking up tickets at the will call window should be prepared for unlicked ticket envelopes because our parched Capital Bank ticket office employees will be saving saliva. Fans will need to salvage water water wisely with special deals on high-sodium concession items such as chips, popcorn and peanuts.
In an effort to keep the field saturated, the Hammond Stadium groundscrew will participate in a mid-game rain dance because even the Earth needs a drink on a hot day. Fans can expect to make a big splash with a stadium-wide game of Marco Polo.
Of course, the Miracle will extend an invitation to Senator Rubio to throw out the first pitch, provided he uses the rosin bag beforehand and is thoroughly hydrated.
Funny stuff — I especially like the unlicked ticket envelopes — and par for the course for the satirical savants within the Miracle front office.
But this brings up the old debate: to what end? Much like myself at the junior prom, this promo is conspicuously lacking a date. But even if it is scheduled in April it will most likely seem outdated and irrelevant by the time that it actually occurs. Barring a visit from Rubio himself, the number of fans who purchase tickets as a direct result of the Miracle’s pop culture riffing will be negligible. It’s possible that the team won’t have much of an incentive to execute the promo at all due to a lack of interest from the fans.
But maybe that’s not the point? Simply by announcing the promo (and taking the time to brainstorm some clever components thereof), the Miracle have ample elicited media coverage/Twitter mentions/blog pontifications and perhaps the cumulative effect of this is a greater brand awareness that does in fact lead to more ticket sales. Or is that wishful thinking? What it the best way to quantify such endeavors, to determine if they are worth doing?
Or, hell, maybe I’m thinking too much (per usual). Maybe the best reason for the Miracle (or any team) to do promotions such as these is simply because they can. Unless you’re on the writing staff of a late night talk show, Minor League Baseball is perhaps the only industry where antics such as the above can legitimately be called part of one’s work day. And THAT might be what makes it worth doing, in and of itself.
Talking to myself, unless you want to talk to me:
It wasn’t motivated by anything in particular, but over the past few days I’ve created a compendium of Minor League front office cliches on Twitter. If you’re interested in seeing them simply search Twitter for the #MinorLeagueFrontOffice cliche hashtag. And, of course, feel free to submit your own as I will be compiling these cliches in an upcoming blog post. (If you don’t use Twitter, feel free to leave your Minor League Front Office Cliche in the comments or send me an email.)
Such a cliche compilation is both the literal and figurative definition of the term “inside baseball,” and I apologize to readers who I am leaving in the cold. But, in conjunction with this apology, I’d like to direct you to an interesting new initiative that can give anyone a chance to see these cliches come to life in an up-close-and-personal fashion.
This season, the Hickory Crawdads are offering a “Day in the Minors” fan package.
From the team:
[T]he ‘Dads Day in the Minors program offers a behind the scenes experience like none other, giving YOU the chance to see what it’s like to work for a minor league baseball team for a day. For just $99, you will receive experience in all areas of the organization, including promotions, sales, concessions and media!
Of course, there’s no such thing as a “typical” day in the Minors, but the Crawdads are offering the following as a “sample” schedule:
9am - Staff meeting
10am - Work with the promotions team to prepare for the game
11am - Go on a mascot appearance and wear the suit if you want the total experience
12pm - Work with the Group Sales department
1pm - Work with the Stadium Operations team to make sure the stadium has been properly cleaned from last night’s game and is stocked and ready to go for tonight’s game
2pm - Check in concessions deliveries and set up for a picnic
3pm - Assist the groundskeeper with field preparation
4pm - Batting Practice
5pm - Make sure the Press Box is all set up
6pm - Open the gates, greet fans, take tickets and hand out giveaway items
7pm - Go over the ground rules and exchange the lineup card with the visiting manager during the managers meeting at home plate with the umpires
7:15pm – 10pm - During the game you will receive experience in most of the following areas: Ticket Office, concessions, promotions, customer service & the Press Box
10pm - Break down and clean up
Midnight - Go home as an official Day in the Minors survivor!
Plus, if you are truly lucky, it will rain during the day and you’ll have the opportunity to pull tarp!
While $99 is far more than most people spend on MiLB-related endeavors, I do believe that this is a worthwhile expenditure that could be enjoyed by people of all ages. In particular, a “Day in the Minors”-style program could be a great way to expose high school and college-age fans to the realities of working in the sports industry so that they could then make a better informed decision as to whether this would be a career they’d like to pursue.
Teams could also waive the fee and make this part of their community outreach efforts. In recent years Minor League Baseball president Pat O’Conner has emphasized the need for teams to diversify both their staffs and fan base in response to changing demographics, and offering a full immersion into front office culture would be a unique way to engage portions of the community that currently aren’t aware of or interested in the local Minor League product on offer.
But I’m just riffing here…As far as I know the Crawdads are currently the only team offering such a program, and it will be interesting to see if they are successful with it. Your thoughts? Would you pay $99 for this comprehensive Class A experience? Or, if you work for a team, is “Day in the Minors” the sort of initiative that you’d consider making available to your fan base?
This past Friday sure turned out to be a doozy in the world of Minor League promotions. The independent Florence Freedom got most of the attention with the announcement of their “Manti Te’o Girlfriend” bobblehead (the box is empty, see?), but they were soon joined on the affiliated front by the Brooklyn Cyclones.
On June 21, the team will be staging “Fictitious Friday.”
Below, please find a bite-sized portion of the Cyclones press release:
Anyone who purchases one ticket at regular price will be allowed to bring their make believe significant-other to the ballpark free of charge. Fans will also have the chance to draw a picture of their girlfriend, because obviously something came up and she couldn’t make it, so that their friends can finally see what she looks like. As a special treat, MCU Park will host a unique petting zoo for those in attendance, featuring a unicorn, a mermaid, and a Minotaur. The Cyclones are also in discussions with the Loch Ness Monster and Big Foot to throw out a ceremonial first pitch that evening. In keeping with the tradition of Coney Island amusements, the Cyclones will put a spin on a traditional carnival game, as fans that are able to toss a ping-pong ball into a fish bowl will receive a catfish. Lastly, all of the player headshots used on the video board will just be random people whose photos we find on the Internet.
Eager, as always, to get the facts behind the fiction, I contacted the Brooklyn Cyclones for more info on this most imaginative of promotions. GM Steve Cohen was quick to provide answers to my queries:
Letting make-believe girlfriends in for free is a very generous gesture. How much do tickets for make-believe girlfriends usually cost?
Steve Cohen: It depends on if they take up a seat or not. To keep up with the ruse, you might need an empty seat next to you in case you run into somebody you know. This way if they ask where your girlfriend went, you can tell them “Oh, you just missed her. She just went to grab something to eat, but she was sitting right here.” We have always supported make believe girlfriends – haven’t you seen our staff?
How are your negotiations with the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot progressing?
Steve Cohen: Not good. The market for make-believe creatures is currently at an all-time high. Their agents see this as a golden opportunity to cash in and they are asking an enormous amount as an appearance fee. Plus they are making odd demands like every picture we take of them needs to be out of focus and from at least 100 yards away.
How many catfish do you expect to give away on this special evening?
Steve Cohen: We had a couple wash into our office during Super Storm Sandy, so we already have a pretty decent supply to start off with.
If this promotion is a success, will other make-believe promotions follow?
Steve Cohen: You bet — the make-believe ones are a lot less expensive than the real ones!
And would you believe that yet another team has jumped into the fray? I bet you would! In the wake of the Cyclones’ “Fictitious Friday,” the San Jose Giants announced that April 12 would be “Lennay Kekua Night.” Per the team:
Items such as catfish will be featured on the Turkey Mike’s BBQ menu and fans who purchase a game ticket can bring their imaginary or real significant other to the game for free. A meet and greet will also take place prior to the game for all couples to introduce their significant others to their parents, to avoid any confusion about the existence of a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Two free future game tickets will be given to all fans who dress like Manti Te’o and to all Stanford University students because they may know or be Te’o's girlfriend. During the game, promotions will include individuals and their imaginary significant others competing to win great prizes.
For the record, I am no stranger to on-field solo competition:
Oh, and “speaking” of the Lake County Captains: on Friday they announced the first Lance Armstrong-themed promotion in Minor League Baseball (my guess is that, risky topic or not, other teams will follow suit). I went ahead and wrote an MiLB.com news piece on it, yet another specious example of how I am using whatever talents I have to the best of my abilities. Here’s the graphic that ran with the piece:
And that’s about all I have to report on regarding this particular news “cycle.”
Approximately two and a half months have passed since the advent of superstorm Sandy, and the areas most affected by this meteorological calamity are still in the beginning stages of what has been and will continue to be a long and arduous clean-up process.
With the long view in mind, I wanted to dedicate (the bulk of) today’s post to informing you of/reminding you about a forward-thinking Lakewood BlueClaws initiative: Restore the Shore.
“Restore the Shore” is a multi-faceted and long-running program, which the BlueClaws are running in conjunction with several local businesses. It all starts with the purchase of a “Restore the Shore” t-shirt, which can be obtained HERE.
Per the team:
- Each Friday until Memorial Day, staff members (or families) wear the t-shirts and each person makes a donation every Friday.
Businesses that participate will be honored in a ceremony at a 2013 BlueClaws game.
And then there’s this all-important question: Where does the money go?
More from the team:
The BlueClaws and Atlantic Physical Therapy Center are committed to supporting families impacted by Hurricane Sandy. In early 2013, those impacted will be able to fill out an application and donations will be made to as many families as possible.
The BlueClaws staff has been wearing their Restore the Shore shirts each and every Friday since the initiative started (I even spotted them doing so at the Baseball Winter Meetings in Nashville), and since then the movement has spread to other Minor League markets as well. Behold, the Lexington Legends.
Minor League Baseball charities has donated $10,000 to the program, thus far the largest single contribution received.
Kudos to the BlueClaws for taking the lead in such a long-running and impactful charitable initiative. I’ll continue to publicize and provide updates on these efforts as we move closer to Opening Day.
In (far) less notable news, remember last week when I gave some publicity to the retro baseball-card inspired staff bios of the State College Spikes?
Well, as a reward for my positive PR the team sent along my very own retro baseball card. I am honored.
The above pic was a self-portrait taken during one of my “On the Road” stadium visits last season. The first person to identify in the comments where I was in that picture shall receive a random assortment of Minor League swag that I have lying in a box under my desk.
Good luck, and for (far) more 1987 Topps content click HERE to check out last year’s multi-part series on players included in that set who have gone on to Minor League coaching careers. It won me a Pulitzer.
As part of my unwavering commitment to always be several months behind when it comes to delivering blog content, today’s post returns to a topic that was first touched upon last week: Olympics-themed Minor League Baseball promotions!
That’s what you’re all here for, right? Then let’s do this!
In Eastlake, Ohio, the Lake County Captains satiated our nation’s pent-up desire for 1992 sneaker commercial nostalgia by staging their own version of Reebok’s Dan vs. Dave campaign. This time around, the Dan and Dave in question were Captains account executives Dan Torf and David Kodish.
Captains assistant general manager Neil Stein has more info, because of course he does:
[R]emember the 1992 Dan vs. Dave ad campaign for Reebok when those two were qualifying for the Decathalon….We decided to do our own Dan vs. Dave promo in honor of the Olympics, [beginning] when the opening ceremonies began. The two guys are competing in a Heptathalon (one event in 7 different games while the Olympics are taking place – that’s all we have at home during the Olympics).
The resulting images were fairly ridiculous. Let’s all take a look, together as one.
While I’m not sure of the myriad twists and turns that led to the final outcome, let it be known that it was Dan Torf who emerged victorious. Here he is speaking with Grover, one of the most ebullient MCs in the biz.
Let’s just keep on rolling, because there’s always more to write about. If you have a moment to relax for a little bit, then take a deep breath and watch this stirring tribute to Mobile BayBears batboy Wade Vadakin. On July 21st, Wade worked his 1000th (!) game for the BayBears, and the team made sure that his accomplishment received ample recognition.
We have not hit upon my secret self-imposed word limit quite yet! Therefore, let’s take a look at a late-season Delmarva Shorebirds innovation. The team partnered with sponsor Pool Tech, Inc. and installed a hot tub seating area down the third base line. Fans vied for the chance to sit in the hot tub during the game via a Facebook contest, and judging by the picture below it looks like Randy Newman may have been one of the chosen few.
This is not the first time I’ve written about hot tubs at Minor League ballparks, but I can’t recall any other teams that did this in 2012. Prove me wrong, please. Or prove me right. At this point in the calendar year, all that really matters is that someone takes the time to momentarily validate my existence.
And with that gratuitous sentence, I have now exceeded my self-imposed word count. Thanks, as always, for tolerating the barely-suppressed series of OCD rituals that is this blog.
As mentioned last week, one of the tasks in which I am currently engaged is the compilation of 2012 Promo of the Year MiLBY nominees. There will be many to choose from, but only one will join Billy Donovan Night (Fort Myers, 2007), Mascot Showdown (Fresno, 2008), Cave Shrimp ‘What Could’ve Been Night” (Bowling Green, 2009), the Rickwood Classic (Birmingham Barons, 2010) and Dallas Braden bobblebelly (Stockton Ports, 2011) in the “Promo of the Year” pantheon.
As to which promo will emerge triumphant in 2012, your guess remains as good (or better) than mine. But one thing I do know is that the Orem Owlz “No Soup for You Night,” which took place on July 21, will be among the nominees. On this special evening in north-central Utah, cult sitcom celebrity Larry “the Soup Nazi” Thomas visited the home of the Owlz in order to throw out a first pitch, spend an inning on the radio, sign team-logo ladles for fans, and, of course, serve soup to those he deemed deserving. If you’re asking the question, “But why?” then I envy your blissfully unaware state regarding the world of Minor League Baseball promotions. For the answer to this question, always, is “Why not?” Justification is never needed.
Owlz general manager Brett Crane sent over some pictures from this Seinfeldian endeavor, which he called “the best promotion that we have done in the 12-year history of our franchise.” Now seems as good a time as any to put an end to the tyranny of the written word in this post; let’s get to the pictures! Here’s the man of the hour:
Oodles of Oremites got to the ballpark early, to insure themselves the acquisition of a complimentary soup ladle.
Before interacting with the masses, Mr. Thomas delivered a first pitch into the outstretched mitt of an unknown recipient.
From there on in, the evening was a blur of signing and serving. Whoever brought this to the ballpark was really thinking ahead:
Mr. Thomas signed plenty of ladles as well.
Ladle in the evening, he did the same thing at the ballpark.
One individual who was rejected for improper ordering techniques was mascot Hootz. Maybe Thomas would have been more sympathetic had he known that Hootz’s wife is pregnant?
In any case, this promotion was clearly a success for the Owlz and it will be interesting to see if Thomas becomes a recurring figure on the ballpark appearance circuit. If you’re wondering why I chose to dedicate an entire post to this promo, please know that it has nothing to do with the following item I received via post last month.
Ben’s Biz Blog: Insusceptible to bribery since 2007.
After 365 days, we as a species have finally escaped from beneath 2011′s tyrannical yoke.
Not surprisingly, very little news of note emerged during the just-concluded holiday season. But, nonetheless, it is now my duty to get you up to speed. For starters, I am ashamed to admit that the unveiling of a Rookie-level team’s secondary logo somehow escaped my all-seeing eye. The team in question is the Grand Junction Rockies:
As you may recall, Grand Junction’s primary logo was unveiled in November (the team has re-located from Casper, where they were known as the Ghosts). Like the secondary logo, the primary logo is strongly influenced by the parent Colorado club. (And, as more than a few Tweeters/commenters/emailers pointed out to me, it may have been influenced by Pizza Hut as well.)
In any case, both logos were designed by Visual Intent. This marks a rare instance in which a Minor League logo was NOT designed by either Studio Simon or the newly-rechristened Brandiose.
Speaking of rare instances, very few teams offer ticket specials in conjunction with the New Year. But the Fort Myers Miracle have once again done just this, with their annual “Resolution Pack.”
*A $10 gift card for your nutritional needs and supplements from Mother Earth Natural Foods
*4-pack of Box Seat Ticket Vouchers to enjoy the Miracle in 2012
*One FREE week membership to Snap Fitness and a FREE training session
*One FREE Matt Booth Boot Camp Adventure
*One FREE financial planning session with Pasquale Evangelista with Raymond James & Associates
And with the new year comes HOT STOVE SEASON, when teams stoke anticipation for the upcoming season by hosting dinners highlighted by celebrity guests, giveaways, and memorabilia auctions. The Delmarva Shorebirds are putting a unique twist on the format this season, as the club is hosting a “bloggers roundtable.”
Says the team:
In addition to traditional guest speakers, the Shorebirds will host a roundtable conversation about a litany of topics. Guests will have the opportunity to engage the panelists during the roundtable and throughout the night.
“The new format really lends itself to passionate baseball fans that want to talk about the sport with those that cover it on a regular basis,” said general manager Chris Bitters.
If any teams wish to invite
hopelessly obscure superstar blogger Ben’s Biz to a banquet, then shoot me an email and we’ll discuss the specifics of my appearance fee and backstage rider.
Finally, I’d like to offer a hearty congratulations to Scott Carter, the new director of marketing for the Durham Bulls. Carter’s previous Minor League gig was as a VP of marketing for the Fresno Grizzlies, where he implemented trend-setting promotions such as Twilight Night, Tweet-Ups, post-game mascot wrestling, and much more. Looking forward to seeing what he’ll be able to accomplish in Durham, a historic franchise with a strong fan base that competes in an excellent facility.
It was in Durham, in fact, that my current profile picture was taken. I ended up wearing this hat for 43 days straight.
For the past two decades, the Kane County Cougars have played at Elfstrom Stadium. The facility was named in honor of Philip B. Elfstrom, a former Kane County Forest Preserve president who played a key role in bringing Minor League Baseball to the region.
Sound familiar? It should. For Kane County is the fourth Fifth Third Ballpark (or Field) in Minor League Baseball. (The others are located in Toledo, Dayton, and West Michigan.) Clearly, a naming-rights juggernaut is forming.
Fifth Third Bank is headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio. It’s unusual name is described on Wikipedia as [T]he result of the June 1, 1908 merger of Third National Bank and Fifth National Bank, to become the Fifth Third National Bank of Cincinnati. While Third National was the senior partner, the merger took place during a period when prohibitionist ideas were gaining popularity, it was believed that “Fifth Third” was better than “Third Fifth,” which could be construed as a reference to three “fifths” of alcohol.
At the time, no one could have imagined that the name would go on to inspire the most attention-getting Minor League concession item of the 21st century: West Michigan’s “Fifth Third Burger.“
Here’s hoping that the Cougars pick up on this trend, and offer a Fifth Third Brat at the ballpark in 2012 (washed down with 5/3rds of a pint of Leinenkugel).
But regardless of potential new food items, this news out of Kane County means that there are a total of 20/3 Fifth Third ballparks in the Minors (approximately 6.66, for you conspiracy theorists). How do you feel about this? Is it an example of the increasing homogenization of a traditionally diverse industry? Or a reflection of strength and resiliency during tough economic times?
— A topic that provokes far less ambivalence is blogging, which is obviously one of the greatest things one can do with his or her time. And for an example of a Minor League team blog at its most impressive, take a look at the “2011 Year In Review” post over at “From the Nest” (the official blog of the Great Lakes Loons).
Contained therein are everything from “Top 10 Games” to “Best Nicknames” to “Fashion Stats” to “Notable First Pitches” to “Goofy Head Shots.
I’ll be honest — Minor League team blogs usually make me grumpy, as they are often well-intentioned but amateurishly done and eventually abandoned. So when teams go above and beyond I take notice. The Loons’ “Year in Review” is more than a blog post. It’s a statement of purpose, one that could be incorporated into sponsorship proposals and season-ticket renewal letters as an example of just how much the team has to offer.
— And speaking of going above and beyond — the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers have made a tradition of offering highly collectible Opening Night bobbleheads, and 2012 is no exception. As part of a year-long 50th Anniversary of Midwest League Baseball celebration, the team is offering no less than five bobbleheads as part of an Opening Night “All-Fan” giveaway.
These wide-eyed fellas are united in their ability to arouse distinct feelings of unease, but diverse when it comes to what they represent. Sez the team:
Each bobblehead is decorated with the jersey and cap from one of the following years:
- 1953 Appleton Papermakers
- 1960 Fox Cities Foxes
- 1983 Appleton Foxes
- 1995 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Original home jersey)
- 2011 Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (Updated home jersey)
All fans attending the game between the Timber Rattlers and the Cedar Rapids Kernels on Thursday, April 5, 2012 will receive one of the bobbleheads at random. There will be equal numbers of four models of bobbleheads. However, only 250 of the 1953 Appleton Papermakers bobbleheads will be available as part of the giveaway.
Finally, congratulations to Durham Bulls broadcaster Neil Solondz, who recently got the call-up to the parent Tampa Bay Rays. As you may recall, Solondz was one of three broadcasters profiled in my recent MiLB.com article on broadcasters on the cusp.
I’d like to think that I’m a blogger on the cusp. But the question remains: the cusp of what?