When the Baltimore Orioles released their 2014 promotion schedule for its 60th anniversary season, they noted it was one of the ball club’s “most robust promotional calendars in club history, filled with many new items, as well as several returning fan favorites” slated for giveaways throughout the season. It can’t just be coincidence that the team finished first in the America League East Division, claiming their first division championship since 1997.
“Apparel is an extremely popular giveaway, not just in Baltimore, but throughout Major League Baseball,” says Greg Bader, Orioles’ vice president of marketing and communications. He says that T-shirts, caps and other apparel have a high value for fans, as they can get multiple uses out of the giveaway items.
“Additionally, it’s good for a brand to provide apparel for fans to wear throughout the marketplace as it helps promote the brand image and identity,” he adds. Indeed, Oriole-branded apparel was distributed at 15 of the 24 home games, when merchandise was given to fans during its anniversary season.
The Orioles’ promotional schedule in 2014 featured six separate T-shirts that were provided to all fans in attendance. “We even allowed our fans to choose their sizes (medium or XL) for the first time in club history,” Bader points out.
There were six hat giveaways this year, including the Orioles’ classic floppy hat (similar to Gilligan’s hat on the famed 1960s TV series), a Father’s Day Fedora and, for the first time, a Wild Bill cowboy hat.
“All of our hats ended up being popular in 2014, but the Wild Bill hat was perhaps the most popular,” says Bader. “It was the first time we had ever given away this style hat, and since it was in honor of ‘Wild Bill’ Hagy, one of the most famous Orioles’ fans of all time, and in celebration of our 60th anniversary, the promotion was extremely well-received.” The Wild Bill hat was distributed on August 9 to the first 20,000 fans ages 15 and older.
In July, Baltimore sports reporters Zach Wilt and Jabby Burns debated the merits of the floppy hat vs. the fedora on Baltimore Sports Report. Burns called the Orioles’ fedora the “new, hip way of the future” while Wilt praised the classic floppy hat.
“When the Orioles’ promotional schedule comes out, the first thing you look for is Floppy Hat Night,” Wilt said. “When you think Orioles’ promotions, you think floppy hat!” The floppy hat promotion has been going on since at least the days of Memorial Stadium (pre-Camden Yards) – more than 25 years, says the Orioles’ Bader. He adds that Miller Lite has sponsored nearly all of the floppy hat giveaways, which are distributed to fans ages 21 and over.
A Florida-based marketing company with a soft spot for direct mail carried out a two-part Halloween campaign that consisted of a postcard, a YouTube video and a bit of mystery.
First, the company mailed a personalized postcard with their website and these five words: "They are coming for you, (Name)". They also added a "creepy" YouTube video on the landing page. "We wanted to come up with a cool Halloween campaign," says the firm's marketing director. "It's important that we come up with something innovative rather than just offer a money-off discount to drive sales. We want to impress the pants off of our customers."
Over 5,900 personalized postcards were sent to top current clients who had ordered from the company within the last six weeks, and over 97,000 e-mails were sent to their entire client database promoting the campaign. Ultimately, they received over 2,570 visits to the landing page, and new order numbers from the campaign totaled $137,748. "With this campaign, we really wanted to leave the impression with current clients that we're a fun and creative marketing company," says the marketing director. "This plays an important part in improving the affinity they feel for us, and that will hopefully translate into long-lasting client relationships for us."
If you want to scare up your own business this Halloween, follow these tips from this campaign's marketing director: "Have fun and connect with your clients. Write a fun e-mail and send out pictures of your staff dressed up, or hold a themed contest for your clients with a great prize."