The Minnesota Twins consider it an energy moment, designed to keep fans with their product during a lesser year while also celebrating one of the better times in franchise history.
And it also looks like a promotion used by McDonald’s.
The Twins are taking advantage of the 1991 World Series team’s 30th anniversary by selling a limited number of custom products at an upcoming home game. The items include retro backpacks that cost $150. The promotion is limited to in-stadium purchases. The Twins and Major League Baseball hope it will increase the club’s involvement in a losing season.
“It’s leaning on something that’s old and making it new again, so that the younger generation that we’re having a hard time reaching is interested in coming to the margins,” Heather Hinkel, Twins vice president of brand marketing, told CNBC.
Using the McDonald’s Approach
The 1991 Twins, led by outfielder Kirby Puckett and pitcher Jack Morris, won a seven-game World Series against the Atlanta Braves on October 27, 1991. It was the franchise’s second World Series in the Minnesota era.
But in 2021, the Twins are 17 games away from first place in MLB’s AL Central Division. So competing for a third title this year is a longshot. But with 81 home games to sell, the club needs ways to entice fans to attend games at Target Field.
Betting that a marketing concept similar to one used by McDonald’s can help.
The fast food empire used the name, image and likeness of hip-hop star Travis Scott to increase sales and engagement around custom meals. And Scott became the first entertainer to be on the McDonald’s menu since NBA icon Michael Jordan (McJordan meal) in 1992. Scott also created vintage merchandise around the promotion.
The Twins imitated the move at the local level, tune with entertainer and Minnesota-born DJ Skee to design items around the 1991 championship promotion. Skee, whose real name is Scott Keeney, attended the 1991 World Series games and has a personal connection to the MLB moment.
“It’s a way for us to talk not just with our avid Twins fans, but also younger fans who are a little more casual,” Hinkel said of the partnership with Keeney.
The Twins used Winning Streak Sports and Canada-based Herschel Supply Co. to create the custom items. They include 150 heritage banners, dynasty banners and pennants ranging from $45 to $75. The team will also sell 110 backpacks for $150 each. The Twins are estimated to bring in about $50,000 if the items sell out.
“We’re always interested in sales and want to sell out, but I think we’re looking at the bigger picture – we’ve created buzz and driven people to the stadium,” Hinkel said. “Have we been able to boost engagement around a product launch?”
Just like McDonald’s did with Scott, the Twins gave Keeney full control over the promotional design and took advantage of his social media following to spark interest around the game. The Twins said they expect more than 25,000 fans (capacity is approximately 39,500) for Saturday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays.
“You’re leveraging social commerce,” said Chris Lencheski, CEO of Winning Streak Sports. “It’s different from e-commerce because social commerce is exactly what McDonald’s did with Travis Scott.
“We’ve already made enough of it just with the subscription base for subscriptions; there will be interest. And DJ Skee – his social media followers (Fluid Fan) may not have anything to do with the Twins, they just love who he loves.” is or what he stands for and they want this because he is part of it,” Lencheski added.
Lencheski, a professor of sports affairs at Columbia University, said the promotion takes advantage of scarcity around 1991 World Series items and the collectibles, which have been active this year, especially for baseball items.
In 2021, a rare Babe Ruth baseball card sold for a record $6 million, and a 1952 Mickey Mantle baseball card for $5.2 million. Keeney was also part of the action. He paid $1.1 million for MLB star Mike Trout’s rookie card.
“The collectibles market is exploding,” Lencheski said. “And it’s not just sports cards and NFTs. It’s just about anything that is collectible and crosses over in music and sports entertainment and has a certain amount of collectability.”
If the promotion is effective, Lencheski predicts more MLB teams could use the concept to boost stadium supply and generate season-end revenue in a bad year.
Quick check on matters
The NFL season is upon us, so the Twins have less than a month to tap into their local market with more of these types of offers. Since the team is near the bottom of the standings, fans can start tuning in. The Vikings will also command the attention and spending of consumers.
Former Oakland Athletics Executive Vice President Andy Dolich said MLB teams not participating in the playoffs in the final weeks will use discounted tickets and post-game fireworks to lure spectators.
“Post-season promotions are extremely valuable, as long as they’re done strategically,” Dolich says. “If you just put out a promotion, fans are going to determine — just like anything else they buy — whether it’s valuable.”
“And you have to look at the risk-reward,” Lencheski added. “You’re playing a game, which currently every available seat that hasn’t been sold has a greater economic risk profile than the negative. So the little bit of risk the Twins take in producing energy around a game where a well-known entertainer – it’s a healthy amount of risk.”
The Twins have averaged about 14,500 fans this season, which ranks 19th in the MLB attendance. According to Forbes, the latest figure tied to the team’s annual revenue is about $111 million. New business partners added in 2021 will make up 25% of total sponsorship accounts and companies, including Geico, Ecolab and 3M Co. have signed agreements with the team this year.
On August 5, the twins appointed Meka White Morris as Chief Revenue Officer. Morris, a former Tappit manager, has worked for teams such as the Raiders, Charlotte Hornets and Cleveland Cavaliers.