SBJ/April 1-7, 2013/In Depth

Arizona Diamondbacks: Having some fun

Nearly two months ago, in the height of the online craze around “Harlem Shake” videos, a more unusual variant came out of Phoenix.

A typical spring training workout made a drop cut to Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick dancing wildly to the song’s electronic beat. Team President and Chief Executive Derrick Hall wore a Mexican wrestling mask. Manager Kirk Gibson mimicked his famous home run trot from the 1988 World Series.

More than 200,000 video views later, several other pro teams jumped on the “Harlem Shake” bandwagon. But for the Diamondbacks, it was simply another chapter in an existing philosophy around seeking to generate viral online content.

The Arizona Diamondbacks took a break from spring training to tape a "Harlem Shake" video.
Lip dub videos. Take-offs on the irreverent man-on-the-street interviews seen in late-night talk shows. Highly produced holiday greetings. It’s all part of the Diamondbacks’ DNA. If there’s an Internet meme trending, the club is almost certain to be part of it.

“We have an organizational philosophy to be as innovative as possible,” Hall said. “We want these types of videos to be a reflection of our culture and evoke a real sense to the fan that it looks like we’re having fun. And truthfully, we are having fun.”

Much of the energy for the viral videos comes from Hall himself, a natural communicator and former baseball public relations executive who possesses an easy comfort in front of a camera. Internally, Hall already runs many staff meetings in the style of a talk show and hosts a regular luncheon, “On the Couch With D-Hall.” Concepts and ideas for many of the viral videos derive from these sessions.

There is no direct revenue tie to the club’s viral videos. Rather, the intent is to drive traditional business lines such as ticket sales, merchandise and ratings for local game telecasts. Club surveys have found a link between fan intent to purchase and the video content. Better yet, the production costs are minimal, as the clips are usually produced internally using existing staff and basic cameras and editing equipment.

“It’s probably as effective as any piece of marketing we have,” Hall said.

Not all ideas get the green light, however. One rejected idea was hitting Hall in the face with cream pies for March 14, otherwise known as Pi Day.

“I turned that one down,” he said. “But we’re going to continue to challenge ourselves to come up with creative ideas.”
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