Every year I spend a few days in Phoenix taking in some games of Spring Training baseball. The Dodgers are my team and seeing them in this pure baseball environment is a highlight of my year. This is a time where huge contracts and egos don’t seem to matter. The pros are there to prep for their upcoming season while wannabe pros show what they’ve got in order to make the team. Fans travel from all over to catch a early glimpse of what their teams will look like. These true fans intermingle with locals to create an environment of fun. Kind of like a miniature version of Disneyland. (I am going with the majority in saying that Disney is fun. I am fully aware it is some people’s idea of hell on Earth.) So with all these true fans and locals in one spot I started to wonder why I wasn’t seeing more promotions. Now, I’m not going to count the credit card promotions. Those vultures are everywhere. But in the games that I saw, I did not see one promotion on a concourse or in a parking lot. To me this is a missed opportunity. You have a rich group or consumers at these games who are dedicated to their teams. And by a brand being onsite you inherently get he impression that the team endorses the product. Isn’t that the holy grail of event selection?
Now I was not at every park, but over the years I’ve been to my share and this is an annual misstep by marketers. I do know that our friends at Wonderful Pistachios are at a couple parks this year and as one can guess, free nut samples at a ballgame is a definite winner. But there are definitely other brands that could benefit from the exposure to the prime demographics. While I am not saying that the parks should be loaded with experiential marketers, I do think that the teams or venues could attract and approve some top notch brands. In this environment promotions need to seem organic and add to the experience or they will be shunned immediately. But with creativity a onsite activation could become a favorite activity in parks where the majority of the attendees show up early to check out the shops, hunt for autographs, have a couple beers and more or less wonder the park. Wouldn’t you like to have your brand in front of this kind of audience?
In a couple of weeks baseballs regular season will start and at Major League parks across the country brands will spend huge amounts of money to have an onsite activation where they will probably be located at one of many gates or concourses, missing the majority of the people who are attending the game just by the fact that they will not be seen. Isn’t a scenario where you pay less and get more exposure to prime demographics a better choice? I think so.
So if you take this advice and do decide to activate at either the Cactus or Grapefruit League next year keep it simple and fun, just like Spring Training baseball.