SBD/Issue 38/The Back of the Book

Caps, Bobbleheads Top List Of MLB Team Giveaways/Promotions

Caps and bobbleheads topped the list of items most frequently given to fans by MLB clubs for the second straight season, according to a SportsBusiness Daily/Journal analysis of teams' promotional efforts. According to the promotional schedules for all 30 MLB clubs this past regular season, teams combined for 719 giveaway dates, up 16% over '09 and up 25% compared with '08. Along with free T-shirts, which ranked No. 3 on the list, caps and bobbleheads have been the most popular giveaways since SportsBusiness Daily/Journal first started tracking MLB teams' game-day promotions and handouts in '02. But while the items at the top of the rankings have gone unchanged, the timing of and reason for the giveaways has shifted for many MLB clubs. According to team executives, it was about a decade ago when MLB clubs began to move away from items such as bottle openers and pencils as giveaways to what they call "high perceived value" gifts, such as bobbleheads. "Promotions are as much a part of baseball as hot dogs and Cracker Jacks," said Twins VP/Marketing Patrick Klinger. "We could have cut back this year, knowing we were going to draw well in the new ballpark [Target Field], but it has become an important part of our team's culture." This past season, 66 of the 80 bobblehead nights across MLB (or 82.5%) were held on weekends, double the percentage of just five seasons ago. "Do you want to pack the house and have that fan experience, that buzz, of a sellout?" said Bensussen Deutsch & Associates CEO and co-Founder Jay Deutsch, whose company produced more than 1 million MLB-licensed bobbleheads that were given away at ballparks this season. Deutsch: "You may already have 40,000 coming out on a Saturday night game and get a 'lift' of five or six thousand. And that whole connection gets extended long after they've left the game."

MOST-FREQUENT '10 MLB REGULAR-SEASON
GIVEAWAYS AND PROMOTIONS
RANK
CATEGORY
# TEAMS
DATES
1
Caps
27
87
2
Bobbleheads
25
80
3
T-Shirts
22
72
4
Posters
12
47
5
Magnetic schedules
28
39
6
Toys
16
37
7
Backpacks/bags
20
34
8
Jerseys
17
30
9
Retail coupons
8
28
10
Cups/mugs
14
23
11
Photos
12
20
12t
Lunch boxes/school supplies
13
18
12t
Figurines
11
18
14
Calendars
12
16
15
Blankets
12
14
16
Rally items
6
12
17t
Helmets/gloves
10
11
17t
Banners/pennants
8
11
17t
Bats/balls
8
11
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