Editor’s letter - Go Wild

There we were, Steve and I, in our Philadelphia Eagles shirts, waiting for the Eagles vs. New Orleans Saints wild-card playoff game to begin. Beer and wine on tap, chili in the crockpot, excitement building. I’m sure this scene seems familiar to many of you.

“We look like a couple of dorks,” I said, “but they have to win since we are wearing our shirts.”

Steve shut me down immediately. “SHHHHH! You’re gonna jinx it,” he said.

As it turned out, we all know the Saints won that game on January 4 by two points. And not because I jinxed it, Steve, but because playoff games are usually either team’s to win or lose.

Philly fever was rampant up until that disappointing conclusion, and for some the enthusiasm didn’t wane even then. As a friendly, somewhat tipsy guy at the Irish Rover told me the next day, the Eagles are only three or four players away from being good. That’s the mentality of diehard fans, always holding out hope for a better season next time around.

And those fans love a great giveaway from their favorite teams. As you will read in our cover story, the sports market is ripe with promotional products and opportunities for distributors. Of note, during the wild-card playoffs, the Green Bay Packers gave out free cocoa, coffee and 70,000 hand warmers to fans in attendance at the frigid Lambeau Field (4 degrees, but it felt like -14 with the wind-chill factor, according to reports). Unfortunately, the home team couldn’t pull off a win against the 49ers, but they did pull off some goodwill, based on that thoughtful and practical handout.

Fans will also pay for logoed team merchandise; on game day, hot sellers at the Packers store included seat cushions (nobody wants a frozen butt), foot warmers, mittens and foam fingers. As cliché as it sounds, the possibilities – with both pro teams and minor league organizations – are endless.

A caveat, though: It’s of utmost importance to work with trusted suppliers. Many sports promos are time-sensitive. Recall the New York Yankees’ Mariano Rivera bobblehead debacle last September. The first 18,000 fans to enter the gates were promised the likeness of the beloved, soon-to-retire player who had a 19-year career in pinstripes.

The supply arrived late, however, and while vouchers were given out, the long lines and chaotic scene that ensued put a damper on the overall effect of the giveaway. That’s a lesson you don’t want to learn firsthand.

Take heed and read “Play Ball” for even more tips, strategies and case studies on scoring with this robust and ever-expanding market.