Unveiling new 2014 uniforms ended up being a huge offseason event for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs: the new bacon-themed look was successfully promoted via various social-media and Web-based initiatives under a Smell the Change campaign. For that effort, the IronPigs received Best Marketing Campaign in Ballpark Digest’s annual awards.
Unveiling new uniforms is always exciting, but the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Class AAA; International League) upped the ante by unveiling new bacon-themed uniforms and apparel via a monumental marketing campaign combining social and traditional media.
“It’s hard to go wrong selling bacon-oriented merchandise these days, especially for a team built upon a porcine theme,” said Kevin Reichard, Ballpark Digest publisher. “But the IronPigs went above and beyond to promote their new logos and uniforms, using a unique campaign that drew upon both social media and traditional marketing to build momentum for some of the coolest new looks in Minor League Baseball.”
“With such a unique and forward-thinking rebrand, I challenged our staff to create an equally progressive marketing campaign,” said Kurt Landes, IronPigs President and General Manager. “The ‘Smell The Change’ initiative went beyond many standard marketing techniques in an effort to reach not only our local ‘Hog Wild’ fanbase, but also bacon lovers near and far.”
The Smell the Change campaign was designed by the IronPigs front office to promote a series of bold new looks and designs for the 2014 season. A month leading up to the uniform unveiling, billboards were strategically placed throughout the Lehigh Valley depicting sizzling bacon along with the phrase, “SmellTheChange.com,” pointing fans to an IronPigs online microsite. Anyone who visited the site before the unveiling date would receive a message that said, “Coming 2/24/14.” On 2/24/14, the new looks were unveiled via a press conference and fashion show at Coca-Cola Park, with models donning each of the new uniforms. At the exact same time, the IronPigs unveiled a social media campaign through a variety of outlets and officially launched SmellTheChange.com, allowing fans to see high quality images of the new uniforms as well as receive the behind-the-scenes story of each of the new looks. While the IronPigs primary logo and home uniform were unchanged, new Friday, Saturday and Sunday uniforms as well as a fresh batting practice cap were introduced for 2014. (You can view our coverage of the campaign here.)
And let’s not forget the goal of the campaign: to unveil new logos and branding – most notably, a new Saturday cap and with a one-of-a-kind bacon strip logo in 2014. The bacon-themed Saturday ensemble includes a bacon-strip logo transfixed to the cap, a fresh “Pigs” jersey design emblazoned across the chest as well as the first-of-its-kind bacon-style piping down both legs of the pants. The Saturday top now includes the endearing term “Pigs” across the chest with a wavy bacon underline. The bold new bacon strip logo sits atop a two-tone cap featuring the familiar colors of IronPigs Steel and Furnace Blue. The bacon-enriched pants, the first baseball pants to feature a logo design within the piping, are also IronPigs Steel. In addition to the cap and uniform offerings, innovative bacon “scratch-and-sniff” t-shirts. With widespread interest and publicity, the bacon logo has been sold to each of the 50 states as well as Australia, Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom.
“The IronPigs do everything at full throttle,” Reichard said. “Standing out in an increasingly cluttered media marketplace is a huge challenge, and the IronPigs front office did so by combining an imaginative product line with an assertive marketing campaign. This combination is well worth recognition.”
Each year Ballpark Digest honors noteworthy accomplishments in the baseball world: Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball, independent baseball, summer-collegiate baseball and 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
Best Summer Collegiate Promotion: Kalamazoo Growlers
Editor’s Choice: Granderson Stadium, University of Illinois at Chicago
Best New Food Item: BIG APPLE, Fort Wayne TinCaps
Best Ballpark Improvement: Ferris wheel, Quad Cities River Bandits
Best Ballpark Renovation Under $2 Million: Simmons Field, Kenosha Kingfish
Best Ballpark Renovation Over $2 Million: Durham Bulls Athletic Park, Durham Bulls
Team of the Year: Fort Wayne TinCaps
Best New Ballpark: Southwest University Park
Best Marketing Campaign: Lehigh Valley IronPigs, Smell the Change