Tampa Bay Rays Internship Day 2

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Photo credit: Cole Wyman

Today was not only my second day on the job, but it was also my birthday. My new coworkers were extremely nice to set up a little display at my previously empty desk and all make sure to wish me a happy birthday. On the job, today I was looking at the promotion side of marketing.

I first learned about planned events and how the Rays attend different events in the community and give out small prizes like magnets, glasses, and hats to fans. Constantly being out at these events and engaged with the community is a huge aspect of marketing because it can get people excited about the rays in ways that traditional advertising cannot. I saw the stored items which are taken to each event as a stand, as well as the meticulous schedules and information sheets the Rays use internally to organize and present everything. The Rays biggest problem for the past few years is its attendance.

Currently, the Rays despite being the top team in baseball, sit 2nd to last in attendance. The main reason for this is not only is Tampa a small market, but the stadium is actually about a 30+minute drive from Tampa in St. Petersburg, an even smaller market. However, another reason more easily solved is that the team is pretty new, because of this they don’t really have a generation of fans that grew up Rays fan as the only people who could say that would now be about 20-21 years old. The Rays are fighting an uphill battle because they are trying to attract life long fans in an era where the youth is less and less appealed to by baseball.

To combat this one of the Rays main promotional efforts is to get kids at games and to grow up loyal Rays fans in the hopes that their eventual kids are just as loyal. They do this through kids’ club and other kid-friendly promotions like 2$ tickets on Tuesday. The kids club is a program where kids join for $10 and receive free tickets to every Sunday home game, a few free booster items, and access to exclusive events. It was extremely interesting to see what goes on behind the scenes for this program as well as learning how other teams do their youth programs. The goal is not for producing revenue off of the 10$ fee to join the kids club but to maybe even lose some money now in order to build a more consistent fan base.

The next arena of promotion is gate giveaways. These are the little gifts items that the Rays hand out at certain home games that they advertise. The basic goal here is to simply boost attendance for that game, but also by creating an enjoyable experience for some and a souvenir to go home with, he/she might be more inclined to become a loyal fan and attend more games. These marketing strategies are not just used in the sports industry but really everywhere that longtime buyers are more important than one-off sales.

I spent the rest of the day with Raymond, the official mascot of the Rays. Willis, the man inside Raymond most games and events isn’t just a part-time employee who puts on a costume for the game. He actually helps in the marketing department to plan all the events across the Tampa area that he will attend. He also writes scripts for different skits throughout the day, for example, today during the fourth inning, he brought a kid onto the field to do a bowling competition. I also learned how connected the mascots are with each other throughout the sports world, for example, many of Willis’ best friends are mascots of other teams. This weekend he was actually a way to “celebrate” Paws’ (The Detroit Tigers Mascot) birthday. Now it wasn’t him and a bunch of guys getting together for a drink (actually they might have), nor was it really Paws’ birthday. MLB teams often pick days for their mascots birthday to be a fun day for kids and families as it provides additional entertainment and to make it really fun mascots from around the league show up.

All in all, I was hit with a lot of information today and learned a lot about marketing, But arguably the most important thing I learned is to become a soccer fan. Why? you might ask. Well because of the fact that games start around 2:00-4:00 pm est, office workers tend to fabricate their desire to watch the game as it could interfere with work.