participation trophy

I saw a headline on Yahoo! Sports that grabbed my interest.

I would have loved to sit in on the pitch meeting that netted this gem from the Marlins.

“So … the Nationals are coming to town.”

“The Nationals. Well, they’re not in first place right now, so we have to scrap that language.”

“What about Harper? We can say that Harper’s coming.”

“Didn’t we use that last year?”

“OK, so you have something better?”

“Yes. Yes, I do. How about we promote Gio Gonzalez? He’s from Florida … and get this … we’ll offer a discount to any of his friends and family!”

“But how many seats will that fill? You’ve got to think bigger.”

“He’s part of the Florida family. We’ll call it THE FOG Package.”

“The FOG Package? What does that mean?”

“Friend Of Gio. F-O-G. Anybody could be a Friend Of Gio. They just need to be able to click on the link from our website and pound out their credit card number.”

A young sales executive sheepishly raises his hand in the back of the room.

“Aren’t we making a huge statements abot the club and potentially offending some people with this?”

“Who doesn’t love a deal? Get that banner language together and sell, sell, sell.”

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Teams have done marketing campaigns revolving around visiting teams for years. “Do you want to see Michael Jordan and the Bulls for their only trip against the Clippers? Then, buy a six-pack of games.” Or Shaq … or Kobe … or LeBron.

Many baseball teams differentiate pricing for the arrival of the Yankees or Cubs or for the “rivalry series.”

The promotion described and linked to above takes things to a different level. I’m reminded of the “Seinfeld” episode where Larry David as George Steinbrenner sprints out of his office to try and scalp his owner’s box seats.

Speak to the condition of things. Talk about the desire to build a community (Hell, use the term “family” if you need to) and invite people into the yard at a discount. Major League Baseball may frown on it, but the problem of perception is already there. This is the leaked internal memo by the salespeople mocking their own product.

Be honest with the people. You don’t need flashy gimmicks or zany slogans. You can never go wrong with another bobblehead day or giving away some autographs or lineup-reading privileges.