A new survey by The Wall Street Journal shows that Major League Baseball (MLB) teams that gave away bobblehad products to fans this year increased their attendance by an average of 4.8% on the days of the promotions. In fact, teams like the Seattle Mariners and the Cincinnati Reds increased their attendance for bobblehead giveaway days by more than 40%.
The Journal matched the announced attendance for games in which bobblehead products were given away with games without any promotions that were held on the same day of the week (a regular Saturday afternoon game, for example, compared to a Saturday game that contained a bobblehead promotion). In doing so, the study found that professional baseball teams grew their attendance by nearly 5% on bobblehead days.
The bobblehead with the biggest impact this season? Former Seattle Mariners' outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. The Mariners saw 46,027 fans line up to get their hands on one of 20,000 Griffey dolls on August 10, an increase of almost 50% from the typical Saturday at Safeco Field.
Counselor Top 40 distributor BDA (asi/137616), which sold the Griffey bobbleheads to the Mariners and has created about 1.7 million bobblehead items for MLB teams this season, has noticed the trend of the giveaways successfully driving attendance increases. "Over the past few years in particular, their popularity has really hit a high point that I don't foresee diminishing anytime soon," Jay Deutsch, CEO of BDA, told Yahoo Sports recently. "We're seeing fans line up outside the ballpark hours before giveaway games to make sure they receive a bobble. The emergence of social media has also increased the overall excitement of giveaways. Clubs are taking advantage of tools like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Vine to promote bobbles and engage the fan base with a high rate of success."
The Journal estimates that about 2.7 million bobbleheads will be handed out at MLB games by the time the season ends next month.