Today’s first citation in the annual Ballpark Digest Awards goes to Fresno Grizzlies (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) for the Best Marketing Campaign. This award honors the organization that integrated all the parts of a campaign — a slogan and associated radio, TV, billboard spots and PR efforts — to attract attention.
In the case of the Grizzlies, the offseason saw the team embark on an integrated rebranding built around new uniforms and colors, the popular mascot Parker, and an emphasis on fun at the ballpark. Fresno’s new colors matched those of parent team San Francisco, and the new logo was The “FC” on the hat was echoed both as Fresno Grizzlies and “Fun, Guaranteed” in marketing spots, as the team sought to reinforce the notion that you don’t need to be a hardcore baseball fan to have fun at a game. The TV spots, which featured mascot Parker, used humor to reinforce the point that fun is best had at the ballpark and all ended with the same tagline: “Fun, Guaranteed.” (A spot featuring Parker is below.) Before the season, several canned openings were filmed as intro segments for the TV campaign. Parker was taken to several locations outside the ballpark and filmed doing his normal shtick, which seems to be a bit out of place. He’s dancing in the aisle at a grocery store, knocking over cereal boxes; he stands up at a movie theater to bust out some moves, but he blocks the projection; he silly strings some folks on a bus, but they aren’t amused. Flash forward to Parker doing the same routine at Chukchansi Park and the stadium is rocking. The fun theme was also reinforced in radio spots for the team, which all began with fans being asked how fun was defined at the ballpark. (Below are two spots from the team’s seasonal campaign; just click on the icon to listen.) The campaign continues into the offseason as the team has released six Internet videos showing Parker in a variety of unique situations.
In the end, the campaign worked: the Grizzlies experienced an attendance hike for the fifth year in a row, ending with a total of 526,754 fans. And that doesn’t count the 14K+ the team drew for an exhibition game with parent team San Francisco.
The 2008 Ballpark Digest Awards announcements run through Halloween.