With the Redband Rally Campaign, the Spokane Indians (Short Season A; Northwest League) launched a multifaceted endeavor combining branding, merchandising, promotion and community outreach, along with a very unique and striking rally mascot. That successful effort earned the team an Editor’s Choice Award for Outstanding Achievement in the 2017 season.
The Redband Rally Campaign was named for the native redband trout that were once a prime food source for the Spokane Tribe of Indians. Redband trout (a subspecies of the rainbow trout and known for their distinctive red markings) are unique to the Spokane area, and while they’re not endangered, much community care is devoted to them. A first move in developing a rally mascot for the Indians morphed into a much larger happening that ended up raising money for the restoration of redband trout habitat, a partnership with the city of Spokane, a new merchandise line and, perhaps most importantly, an important community-building endeavor.
“It’s certainly a great achievement when a team can combine a notable promotion with community outreach and make an impact on so many levels,” said Ballpark Digest publisher Kevin Reichard. “An in-game promotion grew into something much larger as the season progressed, and now the Spokane Indians have become an even bigger part of the Spokane community.”
“Our goal wasn’t just to create another new promotion,” said Indians Senior Vice President Otto Klein. “We wanted to create a promotion with real depth. The Redband Rally Campaign is truly historic and unique to Minor League Baseball. We love working with our community partners and most importantly, rallying around Spokane’s signature fish, the Redband Trout.”
“Spokane is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in projects to improve the health of the Spokane River, but getting citizens excited about underground infrastructure is challenging,” said Spokane Mayor David Condon. “Add a headband and a colorful fish mascot during hometown baseball games, and suddenly the information has reached new audiences in a memorable way.”
A Promotion With Meaning
All great endeavors, it seems, begins with a simple idea. The Redband Rally had its genesis when the team was searching for a rally mascot. But not just any rally mascot: a rally mascot with meaning and ties to the greater Spokane community.
“We were looking to add some type of a rally mascot,” said Klein said. “We already had three mascots. Why wouldn’t we add another?
“Other teams have rally mascots that really have nothing to do with the team, like the rally monkey for the Angels,” he added. “We decided this has to have depth. What is important to us and the Spokane Tribe of Indians? What is something important to this area?”
After brainstorming with Jason Klein of Brandiose, the decision was made to center the effort around the aforementioned redband trout.
“The redband trout is native to our area, once a primary food source for the Spokane Tribe of Indians,” Klein said. “We could have a lot of fun with this. We use the word rally a lot in baseball—it’s a big part of the game. We can also rally for the trout, rally for the environment.”
First came the caps, which became an immediate hot product at Avista Stadium. The promotion allowed the Indians to reach out to the greater Spokane community in a new way. “This opened a hole other segment of the type of fan we can attract—we’re a northwest team with plenty of outdoorsman in the area,” Klein said. “We sold out of caps immediately.”
— Spokane Indians (@spokaneindians) July 21, 2017
The team set up a Redband Rally Fund. Partners manage the funds and will distribute the funds to five different beneficiaries, with $5 of every hat sale going to Redband Rally Fund.
If it ended there, the Redband Rally would have already been a noteworthy promotion. But this was just the start.
Introducing Redband Headbands
“Once we came up with this idea, we decided there’s got to be more with the Redband Rally,” Klein said. “What can be done to be more engaging during the game? Let’s do Redband Rally headbands. It’s never been done in baseball; I want to do something new.
“We asked fans to put on your Redband Rally headband and cheer for your Spokane Indians,” he added. “We used in all circumstances—winning and losing. It’s a Redband Rally spirit that we want to have. It’s all about fun. You’re at the game, we hand out these free headbands, and your kids tell you to put on your redband headband. Of course you’re going to put on your headband.”
“The redbrand trout is a hard-fighting fish. It’s been here for centuries, and it is strong,” Klein added. “That’s the characteristic of our team as well. We finish strong, and if we’re losing, we’re coming back.
“In the end, it’s a promotion with depth. It’s a brand, and it’s an interaction during the game.
The fundraising goal was $10,000, and the team is close to reaching it. Fans were asked to contribute in a variety of ways: Redband headband fans could text in from their smartphone and make a donation, for example. And like every successful team charity endeavor, the Redband Rally also involved team partners and the greater community. The participation of the Spokane Tribe of Indians was central to this effort.
“It was important to us, and important to the tribe, to have them help us tell this story,” Klein said “We needed them to help us tell the story and its significance.”
New mascot Ribby the Redband Trout ended up with a significant sponsor: the city of Spokane. “We have Ribby making school appearances and appearing at neighborhood festivals, tying in with the city of Spokane.” Klein said. The city of Spokane is in the midst of a $320-million program to clean runoff rainwater before it’s being discharged into the Spokane River. It’s a significant community effort, and the mascot helps put a face on that effort.
What comes next for the Redband Rally? More, more, more. That includes working with a local group, River Launch, which is putting in a boat launch into Spokane River in next two years. It means other community efforts as well.
“I think we’re just beginning,” Klein said. “We kicked it off midsummer and were out of merchandise for several games, and next year we’ll be set from the beginning of the season.”
Photos courtesy Spokane Indians.
2017 Ballpark Digest Award Winners
Best Ballpark Improvement (Under $1M): Modern Woodmen Park Amusements
Best Charity Effort: Quad Cities River Bandits
Editor’s Choice Award: National Eclipse Games
Best New Food Item: Beercheese Poutine
Best New Concessions Experience: Miller Park
Best Ballpark Improvement (Over $1M): Great Dane Duck Blind
Executive of the Year: Ryan Keur
Best New Logo/Branding: Down East Wood Ducks
Best Ballpark Renovation (MiLB): Fluor Field, Greenville Drive
Broadcasters: Howard Kellman and Mick Gillespie
Ballpark of the Year: SunTrust Park, Atlanta Braves
Past Ballpark Digest Editor’s Choice Award For Outstanding Achievement Winners
2017: National Eclipse Games
2016: Fort Bragg Field
2014: Curtis Granderson Stadium
2011: Cape Cod League’s Spaceball Promotion
2009: The Staff of Roger Dean Stadium
2009: Camelback Ranch-Glendale
2008: MiLB Charities, Texas League