The is no doubt that baseball is a long season and in a challenged economy even the best teams at the professional level have some excess tickets to move. While minor league teams have less dates and less overhead, and much more leeway to be creative, those at the major league level have to continue to look to non-traditional way to put new casual butts in seats despite weather challenges, ticket prices, and sometimes just bad baseball. Selling an experience beer at 10 bucks in the minors is one thing…selling it at 50 in the majors is another. With that in mind here are two good recent examples of different thinking, one by the Houston Astros and one by the Washington Nationals.
First the ’stros, who have struggled both at the gate and on the field, hosted an e-cycling campaign, swapping old consumer electonic items for tickets, as reported in the Houston Business Journal. The event was a great call to action for the team that connected them to a larger part of the community who are interested in green efforts, it gave people a reason to come and engage with the Astros brand and it provided a pay-off of free tickets for a function (e-cycling) that usually has none. And of course, it helped move some bad seats for an early spring game that was hurting for help. It is an easily repeatable event that can even have an electronics sponsor tagged to it in the future, and if there is any sort of tracking for those who dropped off, can provide another valuable database for when the Astros are looking for a technology partner in the future.
The Nats, who have improved on the field but are still gate challenged in the early season, continued their community push recently by hosting a healthy food delivery to people in the greater Washington, D.C. area. yes all teams do the food pantry community outreach programs, but the Nats gave it a great spin by working with celebrity chef Paula Deen and her Smithfield partners to give the delivery an extra special twist. Bringing the internationally famous chef into the picture raised the profile of the event outside of the D.C. area, gave baseball a nice pop with a female demo and connected the sport to a casual celebrity fan not usually seen amongst the gliterrati of sport (nice job by Jim Williams on reporting it). Although this event wasn’t directly tied to a ticketing giveaway, it put the Nats brand in a different exposure light at a time of the year when all the attention possible is needed. Also like the e-cycling move, it connected to a socially conscious campaign (healthy eating) which also expanded the Nats brand and hopefully will lead to some folks giving the team a shot, and some hard earned dollars, when considering a casual night out soon.
By working the green and healthy eating combination, the Astros and the Nats both should earn some nice long term brand building, and hopefully, sales opportunities. Well done on both.