My Favorite Things - Sorry Oprah
Tue, 04/16/2013 - 15:16 — Darrin Gross
I would like to apologize for the tardiness of this month’s column, but I do have an excuse – Opening Day; when all is new and fresh, and we all have the same opportunity to make it to the post-season. Fans are excited to be back at the park, employees are reenergized after the long cold baseball-less winter and the players (at least in our case) are looking to pick up where they left off, save the last game – thanks Verlander.
Enough of the nostalgia and now back to business.
I have previously mentioned in this space how honored I feel to be involved with the greatest game in the world for the last 18 years. This longevity has allowed me to see many interesting things from a fan and partnership perspective. Even greater than viewing these things I have had the opportunity to amuse myself and others with the creation of some irreverent and fun ideas that drive sponsor revenue to boot. Sure, there have been the Hermit Crab Races, Who’s In the Can and Man-Eating-Chicken (thanks Joe Wagoner), but for each one that was “one and done” there is another that lasts and resonates with fans and partners alike.
So, in true Oprah fashion I’m going to give you three of my favorite promotions. There is no real science behind these, but empirical evidence suggest (roar of the crowd, a smile on the face of a fan) that these work for both our partners and our fans:
1. “A” It Forward is a new concept that we developed this past off season. This is a takeoff of the popular social construct “Pay it Forward” (acts of kindness that involve doing something good for someone else as a result of someone doing something nice for you) Our program combines direct interaction with fans, social media interaction with fans and strong sponsor support. Here is the concept: The Oakland Athletics along with up to three (3) corporate partners will give back to our dedicated fans in a special way. From March 1st through March 22nd A’s employees will be in possession of 50 ticket vouchers each. Every time an employee sees a fan out in the community wearing A’s gear they simply walked over to that fan and thank them on behalf of the team and the associated sponsors and give them 2 ticket vouchers. In addition to the vouchers we allowed the sponsors to provide coupons or other small gifts to be given to the fans. The program is driven via social media and other various means with the goal of turning the East Bay and adjacent communities into A’s Territory prior to the start of the 2013 season. We utilized Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to promote A it Forward and created our own hashtag, #A It Forward.
We were not able to fully sell the program for 2013, but did bring on our local gas and electric provider as our first partner for A It Forward. We tweaked it a bit for their needs, but plan to build on this program for 2014 and may contemplate a mid-season launch as we do have several partners who are currently interested.
The reasons this is one of my favorite programs is due to the way the A’s and our partner have the ability to connect with our fans and their customers on several different levels: in person, via social media and then eventually at the stadium.
2. Throwback Thursdays (or as the kids are calling it TBT) is a concept we created last year. We were looking for a value proposition for our Thursday games and decided to bring back the old time feel of baseball. We replaced the majority of our regular entertainment goings on with more of an old-fashioned nostalgic feel. We swapped our regular music for a live organ player. Upon entry we gave fans a scorecard and a bag of peanuts and conducted score keeping clinics prior to the game. There was also a special ticket offer for those games.
We did not sell Throwback Thursdays to a sponsor during the 2012 campaign, but made a few tweaks for 2013 and sold it. We eliminated the peanuts but added a special button on a backer card showcasing the history of the A’s. We included the sponsor logo on the scorecard and the backer card and they receive credit on our website as well. Additionally, we run programming in-game supporting Throwback Thursdays, driving fans to the website to check out the promotion and all of the buttons and cards that will be available throughout the year.
The reasons this is one of my favorite programs is that it harkens back to a simpler time, it showcases the heritage of the Athletics from the late 1800’s through the team’s move to Oakland in 1968, and of course, we were able to bring a partner on board to support the day.
3. Father’s Day Catch on the Field may be the one of the simplest promotions we have ever done and I am not sure why we waited so long to do it. The interesting part of this promotion was that we divided it with a sponsored portion pregame and then a ticket driven promotion post game.
The sponsored portion had a retail tie-in and the ticket promotion was sold on-line and was available as an incremental purchase with a game ticket. We limited the morning session to 50 total guests and the afternoon session to 250. The on-field catch was a huge hit and we will be expanding the program this season.
The reasons this is one of my favorite promotions is because it is simple, gives fans an opportunity to touch and feel the hallowed baseball field and it was a revenue generator for two separate departments.
There are obviously many more great programs that that I have been involved with over the years, but these three examples show how easy it is to create fun at your park and in your “market” with the opportunity to raise revenue via a sponsorship sale.
As always I would love to hear back if anyone has any unique promotions that tie in nicely with a sponsor.
Now go sell something!