In the best Minor League baseball marketing television spots, teams create unique ads that not only promote their brand but connect it to the community. We highlight the best in our Ballpark Digest annual awards for 2018 Marketing TV Spot of the YearThe Quad Cities River Bandits (Low A; Midwest League) connect with the community with annual marketing sports, and this year we cite their ad “Kid Approved,” where team owner Dave Heller’s sons Dylan and Cade showed fans all of the fun activities that happen at Modern Woodmen Park, making it our 2018 Marketing TV Spot of the Year.
River Bandits ads have always been all in the family, as each year Heller and his kids find fun ways to promote the team.
“Every year we do something fun involving my family, my children, and the River Bandits. This was another one of those,” Heller said. “It ran all season long.”
Other ads have seen the family ride the Ferris wheel, zip line, and bumper cars while talking about the team’s food and entertainment. And how has his family felt about the ads?
“[They] are very good actors. They read their lines and say what they’re supposed to say. They don’t give the director a hard time – which is nice, since the director is me,” Heller said with a chuckle.
Heller added that over the years, fans look for the commercials which aren’t filmed until the beginning of May due to the weather.
“Fans come up to me and ask when they are going to air,” Heller said. “All season long people come up to me at the ballpark and say how much they enjoy watching my kids grow up. They’ve seen my oldest Dylan go from six to ten years old and my younger son Cade go from four to eight years old. It’s fun to see that response. They all feel like they know us and we’ve very much part of the community in the Quad Cities.”
It’s that sense of fun they always look to portray in the team’s ads every year. The River Bandits have run similar TV spots for years, as is reflected in the archives on their website.
“We don’t outsource our ads or have a professional ad company come in. We do them all ourselves in-house,” Heller said. “There’s an authenticity and a genuineness that comes through as well as a sense of humor, fun, and a playful spirit that really captures who the River Bandits are. We want people to see our ads and laugh, smile, and feel good about the team. That’s very much our intention.”
The Salt Lake Bees (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) have made TV spots a major component of their marketing efforts. One of the highlights from the team is the spot “Bee in the Car.” The result of a collaboration between the Bees’ internal marketing team and sister company Saxton Horne Communications (Larry H. Miller Sports & Entertainment), “Bee in the Car” promotes the team’s mantra that it is “Better at the Ballpark.” “The Bee in the Car spot was an idea that the team at Saxton Horne brought to our internal marketing team,” said Bees director of marketing and game operations Brady Brown. “We attempt to market the experience fans have at the ballpark more so than even the baseball. We truly believe that it is ‘Better at the Ballpark.’ In this case we took our mascot Bumble and showed that his life as a Bee is much better at the ballpark than anywhere else. At the ballpark he is everyone’s favorite, in the car with your family he tends to make people nervous.”
2018 Ballpark Digest Award Winners
Continued Excellence Award: Fort Wayne TinCaps
Promotion of the Year: Deaf Awareness Night
MLB Broadcaster of the Year: Pat Hughes
MiLB Broadcaster of the Year: Tim Heiman
Commitment to Charity: Hartford Yard Goats
Team of the Year: Indianapolis Indians
Executive of the Year: Doug Scopel
Ballpark of the Year: SRP Park