Who doesn’t want to see their smiling face on a baseball jersey? When the Kalamazoo Growlers sought to make a mark in their first season in the Northwoods League, team management came up with an imaginative Salute to Selfie promotion that put fan faces on game jerseys. For that, the Growlers are recognized for Best Summer-Collegiate Promotion of the Year in the 2014 annual awards from Ballpark Digest.
“Everyone loves their selfies,” said Kevin Reichard, Ballpark Digest publisher. “By seizing on the societal trend with a promotion that put selfies on uniforms, the Kalamazoo Growlers raised fan participation to a new level.”
“There was no middle ground for our Salute to Selfie Night this year,” said Brian Colopy, Growlers Executive Vice President. “You either hated it or loved it which we anticipated going into it. Being a first year franchise, we really embraced giving our fans ownership over as many things as possible. Sticking our fans’ mug shots on our jerseys was just another piece to the puzzle and we couldn’t be happier with the overall response locally and nationally.”
The Salute to Selfie Night spurred numerous imitations throughout the sporting world. Missouri State created a selfie mural this fall at their student union facility. Purdue University’s football team included selfies on their team’s helmets this fall. Most recently, Major League Soccer announced that fan’s selfies would encompass the numbers on team jerseys next season.
One-off jerseys are a big part of baseball marketing these days, whether it’s a dog’s face on an El Paso Chihuahuas jersey or a throwback nostalgia uniform. And other teams have melded social media to one-offs, such as jerseys featuring fans’ Twitter handles.
But no one went to the degree the Growlers did with the Salute to Selfie jerseys, featuring a collage of selfies comprised of Growlers fans submissions. The Kalamazoo Growlers are a first-year team in the summer-collegiate Northwoods League. To participate in the promotion, fans simply had to take a selfie and post it to one of the Growlers social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). The fan that exhibited the most “Growlers spirit” was featured and received prominent location on all jerseys.
Over 500 submissions were received during the submission period and the team sold over 150 jerseys to fans at the games and online. The team even received selfie submissions from state representatives, NBC Sports and Sinbad.
“Salute to Selfie was a really clever way to engage fans,” Reichard said. “Everyone loves to take and share a selfie. Fans didn’t need to jump through hoops to participate, and the results generated publicity for the team across the country.”
Each year Ballpark Digest honors noteworthy accomplishments in the baseball world, whether it be Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball, independent baseball, summer-collegiate baseball or college baseball. Here’s a list of the 2014 awards, both already awarded and to come:
Broadcaster of the Year: Steve Klauke, Salt Lake Bees
Best New Logo / Branding: Akron RubberDucks
Organization of the Year: Big Top Baseball
Best MiLB Promotion: Myrtle Beach Pelicans
Nov. 7: Best Marketing, Best New Food Item, Editor’s Choice
Nov. 10: Best Ballpark Improvement, Executive of the Year
Nov. 11: Best Ballpark Renovation
Nov. 12: Team of the Year, Best New Ballpark (Announced in weekly newsletter)