Sunday, March 30, 2014

Marketing Baseball's Opening Day(s)

When Casey was at the bat, baseball had one opening day in spring. Today, Major League Baseball is an international industry, and opening day often takes place far away from the home country of the Coney Island hot dog.

Since 1999, when "opening day" was in Mexico, baseball has played season openers in Japan and other nations.In 2014, the opener featured the Arizona Diamondbacks playing the L.A. Dodgers in a cricket stadium in Sydney, Australia (above), the first time baseball has opened down under. MLB's SVP for international operations told the Sydney Morning Herald: "We want to play in developing baseball markets and hopefully give the sport a boost to grow." Although the Diamondbacks lost the two Australian openers to the Dodgers, hundreds of Arizona fans went along for the journey, enjoying the Sydney sights and the unique setting for a baseball opener.

MLB's domestic opener was in prime-time on Sunday night, followed by days of openers at local stadiums from coast to coast. Each team has its own opening-day marketing plan. The Red Sox have a countdown clock on their home page, for example, plus fan contests to win tickets and tweets with special hashtags to build excitement. The Yankees are promoting their phenom pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, direct from Japan, among other marketing initiatives.

MLB has a special "grand openings" blog to cover every opening day in every market. And, in a clever move, Budweiser beer is teaming up with MLB to encourage fans to sign a petition requesting an official "opening day holiday" in the U.S.

Batter up!

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