Marketing Lessons From Kooky Sports Promos

Hitting a Homerun With Wacky Marketing Stunts

Fellow Business-Builder,

Happy Memorial Day long weekend to all our US readers! And all of our friends from other countries across the world: I realize you all have big holidays just wrapping up, or about to come, too many of them to list here. Enjoy them and be safe out there.

In Canada, we just celebrated the Victoria Day long weekend, and I took the kids out of town to my secret hideaway. They had a blast … they got to dig in the mud … I tired them out … a successful weekend all around.

I was back to work first thing Tuesday morning.

And one of the first calls I had was with someone who attended a large marketing conference a few weeks ago. The problem was that the numbers were down across the board … attendance was down 30% and sales at the “back of the room” were down even more.

Lots of people I talk to are seeing an impact.

But, it doesn’t mean the end is near and your business is in trouble.

It DOES mean you have to get creative and start thinking out of the box on your marketing.

One of the most creative industries for fun promotions?

The sports industry.

And YES, it does apply to you.

No matter what field we are talking about (pun intended) the ideas behind these promotions could easily be changed to fit your own.

The sports marketing industry is very creative and they have to draw a lot of people out to their games … so their marketing had better be good!

Imagine if you had to get 10,000 people to pay you money every single week or month … what would you do?

Many, with the marketing mindset, aim for product launches and successful campaigns for single products. But what would you do if you had a weekly event to sell out that delivered pretty well the same experience?

Here are some great ideas that sports teams have used to get people through the gates, money in hand.

As you go through these, PLEASE start thinking about how you could make one or more of them work in your business.

I guarantee they could … if you try.

  • The promotions could be for a sale.
  • For a launch.
  • For a fun event.
  • For a customer appreciation party.
  • Or just to get some free publicity.
  • As a co-operative promotion with other like-minded businesses.
  • As a seminar or workshop.
  • As a theme party you throw for all the photos and videos you could use.

Or any one of a hundred different reasons to get your customers and prospects interacting with you.

Wacky Marketing from the field

Baldhead night: anyone who has their head shaved gets in for free.

Mustache Appreciation Night: Fresno Grizzlies fans were encouraged to grow mustaches. They also were incented to encourage their friends to contribute $ to a worthy cause as part of the promotion. Contests were also held for “best in show,” “best Tom Selleck look-alike,” and most pathetic attempt at a mustache. Great times — and great results.

Second Chance Night: Probation officers got in for free. As well as anyone who brought in a traffic ticket and promised to never do it again also got in for free.

Kevin Federline Night:The first 3,000 fans got free temporary K-Fed tattoos. They also got to watch videos of K-Fed’s rise through the ranks, and a dance contest between the dance troop to which Kevin Federline once belonged and the Grizzlies’ mascot.

The Hagerstown (Maryland) Suns had a McDreamy Day: Everyone was encouraged to dress the medical part … and to know their medical lingo to win prizes.

Or what about Anger management night — held by the Augusta (Georgia) Green Jackets. One of their rival teams manager had a meltdown … so let’s turn it into a promotion! They offered the first 250 fans free stress balls and DVDs of the movie “Anger Management.”

[Look at all the new movies out and coming out on DVD — is there any way you can tie a promotion into the theme of the movie? The newest as of this week: “Mall Cop,” “Valkyrie,” “My Bloody Valentine,” “Million Dollar Mutts,” “The Last Word,” “The Grudge,” “Flirting With Forty,” “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” “New In Town,” “Addicted to Plastic,” “Defiance,” “Gran Torino,” “Street Fighters,” “45 RPM,” to name just a few.]

How can you go wrong with a Britney Spears promo? She certainly gives us all lots of great opportunity to make fun of her antics. The Newark (New Jersey) Bears held a Britney Spears Baby Safety Night. Anyone who dressed as a baby, brought a baby toy, or brought an actual baby got in for free. Everybody else that attended received a brochure about baby safety.

[NOTE: before you get uptight about how “hokey” or “unprofessional” these events sound … remember how many TICKETS they sold. Thousands and thousands of tickets sold per event. They didn’t worry about the “hokeyness” of the event … they cared about the newsworthy parts of the promotion only. News and buzz gets people talking about buying … these events did everything you and I should be aiming for!]

The San Antonio Missions held a Used Car Night and gave away a dozen luxury used automobiles randomly.

Or how about the Southwest Michigan Devil Rays and their College Course Giveaway Night? Each fan received a free three-credit course of their choice at nearby Kellogg Community College.

The Charleston RiverDogs minor league baseball team is a master at using wacky promotions to get people in the seats. Some of their events: a Run, Forrest, Run 5-K Race; My Hot Dog Is Green Night and Salute to the G-string Night in which select fans will receive a G-string.

Get this … they even had a Vasectomy Night where a lucky male fan would win a vasectomy. That was canceled after management received complaints. Talk about getting some press!

Or this: They even staged a Nobody Night, locking out fans at the door as the club attempted to set a minor league record for lowest attendance at a game.

Steal of a deal. Recessionary promotion gone wild with the Minnesota Twins offering an entire season (81 games) for only $250. Comparable seats in New York go for $250 per seat — per game.

Hungry fans unite! The Athletics, Orioles, Rangers, Royals, Braves, Dodgers and Padres all have designated All-You-Can Eat sections for fans hungry to see more than a game. Ranging from $30-$45 per person to eat their way through the game.

Musical fanfare. The Pirates have offered up REO Speedwagon and Collective Soul and the Marlins offer KC and the Sunshine Band. The Devil Rays have the most interesting series featuring The Commodores, Trace Adkins, Kool And The Gang, LL Cool J and MC Hammer. (Could you not offer something like this in any of your promotions with lesser-known artists?)

Luring them in. The Twins promotion department hooked some new fans by offering a Joe Mauer fishing lure. Only available to the first 5,000 fans, this was a runaway winner.

How about some NON-sports promotions?

What about the Beer-for-Bags event, which the company promoted that they would accept beer for merchandise. They grew their sales by 20% using this promotion (including all the free publicity they received as well). The company hopes to make “Beer For Bags” an annual event, as it is in Australia.

Gonigam’s World Furniture Mall near Chicago offered customers up to $10,000 of free furniture if the Chicago Bears shut out the Green Bay Packers (which they did). The company had prize reimbursement insurance to cover their backs. They saw huge traffic growth to their site and an increasing amount of new sales to people who never bought from them before.

Long John Silver’s offered to give customers free “Giant Shrimp” if NASA found conclusive evidence of an ocean on Mars.

This is a great list you could use anytime you need a promotion.

The key is to MAKE IT FIT.

I realize 99% of those who read this blog are NOT in the sports marketing business. But … so what? Why can’t you put some time and effort into this list and find some ways to use these ideas?

Keep your eyes on the local news, industry news, Hollywood movies, strange trends, technology trends, and pretty well anything you see on the covers of the magazines like Star, National Enquirer, The Globe, etc (those are the ones the majority of the population reads … and you should be finding a way to tie into them!)

All it takes is some effort — and the results could be exceptional.

You won’t know until you try … right?

This article was first published in The Total Package. To sign-up to receive your own FREE subscription to The Total Package and claim four FREE money making e-books go to