|Courtesy of the Museum of Arts & Sciences (MOAS), Daytona Beach, FL|
At the start of the last decade, I had the privilege of being the Marketing and Communications director for our wonderful Museum of Arts & Sciences (MOAS, a Smithsonian Affiliate). The Daytona Cubs had sponsored an exhibit in the Charles & Linda Williams Children's Museum.
This relationship was fostered long before I arrived and continues to thrive, as I know it will long into the future. The ball club and the Museum traded advertisements in each other's respective publications. The Museum brought exhibits to the Field. The team and mascots hosted meet and greets at the Museum and members, visitors and the public were all invited. It was and is a true partnership. This is what a Minor League team does in their home town (and I do know the real Chicago Cubs actually do this type of thing in their slightly larger community, too ....).
As local fans know, the Cubs moved along a few years ago and we became the home of a Cincinnati Reds team - who would be called the #DaytonaTortugas (#Tugas for short.) Our community named the sea turtle mascot "Shelldon." He is sponsored by Madden's Ace Hardware - a local institution. Not only did the community relationships continue - they thrived. They grew.
And so did the crowds at the legendary Jackie Robinson Ballpark (the Jack). The Tortugas did something that hadn't been done for years under the previous tenure. They began to sell out ballgames. Consistently. And they still do.
Not only was this incredible for our community and its growing fanbase, it was great for sponsors and advertisers - including the businesses surrounding the Ballpark, of course. The advertisers are now getting the benefits of more eyes on their ads, more ears for their branded PA announcements and more touchpoints for their messages - which are on the field, in the program, on the air and surrounding fans throughout their experience at Jackie Robinson Ballpark.
In fact, every time I do a media evaluation and end of year post mortem/recap on the media delivery versus the initial investment, I am able to report so many more impressions than originally negotiated on my clients' behalf. The value in some cases is double.
But what is so much more, what is both easy to see and feel but is hard to quantify, is that clients get to surround their brands with America's pastime. And likewise, the Jack is filled with local names that promote a sense of community. And this generates deep pride in that community.
In the age of fly-by-night digital brands and impersonal transactions and even less personal communications, it's nice - downright necessary, really - to slow down, take in a few innings and remember what life is like with the pleasant thwap of a ball hitting a mitt and the crack of a bat in the background. It's nostalgia and Americana at its best and who doesn't want their local brand (some of which have been around for over 100 years) associated with that feeling?
That feeling, that intangible, awesome reflection of one's business enveloped in something family-oriented, joyful and writ large is, for many brands, the holy grail of advertising. It can't be done with Native Content. It can't be done with a Response Card. It can't even be done with a Super Bowl Ad (well, maybe a Google Super Bowl Ad).
But it can be done with Minor League Baseball.
Andrew Sandall, MOAS Executive Director explains, "... it makes a lot of sense for us to partner with other community-minded organizations like the Tortugas to bring what we do to a wider audience. The Tortugas have become fantastic partners in making our community a great place for young families and I always think a perfect Saturday in Daytona Beach for a family is a morning at the beach, and afternoon at the Museum and then catching the 'Tugas at the Jack in the evening."
I have had the great good pleasure of working with the Tortugas on behalf of many of the non-profits and clients I have represented. And many of the legacies, who have been in our community throughout generations, have decided to sponsor our Daytona Tortugas. Chanfrau & Chanfrau, our multi-generational Personal Injury and Employment Law firm,
proudly sponsor Shelldon's fianceé, Shelly -
the only female mascot in all of baseball. The upcoming wedding of our revered reptiles and Shelly's gorgeous, Loggerhead of an engagement ring, are sponsored by Tom Cook Jeweler - and their 128-year legacy spanning four generations.
So, thank you to the Mayors who signed the recent letter to Major League Baseball, as published in Fortune, etc., who wrote about the contributions of their own teams, "... As a result baseball's economic impact on our cities is immense and, in many places, irreplaceable. The employees of our teams and ballparks as well as countless vendors, hotels, and small business owners relay on minor league baseball's fans for their livelihoods."
This is and has always been the truth throughout Minor League ball's 100+ years. So much more so than the majors. Minor League baseball teams are at the heart and soul of their small communities. The beautification and enhancements our Daytona Tortugas have made to their historic home (nest?), for children and adults (and sponsors) alike have further served to enhance the value of the downtown experience. There are "nights" and special events for young professionals, dog owners, seniors and Little Leaguers. There are concerts, charity drives and festivals. All bringing life, excitement and a sense of community to the heart of Daytona Beach.
As an advertiser, community member and baseball fan, I can't think of a better way for my clients or local businesses to be part of a community than to take part in the fantastic tradition of Minor League Baseball.