On Wednesday, both the Tampa Bay Times and the Tampa Bay Business Journal reported on the Rays new marketing and advertizing plan. This is an annual event the team does to get the media in on the direction of the team’s campaigns.
According to both articles, the keystone of the Rays campaign is the extension of the “Rays Up” slogan. In October, just after Joe Maddon left, I wrote,
“The slogan for 2015 is quite possibly the most important slogan in franchise history. It needs to convey optimism. It needs to ring in the ears of the fans and reassure them the franchise is on the right track, not only on the field, but in the community.”
The Rays are hoping the familiarity of “Rays Up” gives off that optimism. That might be a good idea. Instead of changing it, keeping something familiar in the midst of an offseason full of change could work.
Other key points in the marketing plan include the continuance of the Flex Pack, which according to the TBBJ, gained 10,000 new accounts last year. Last season, we estimated the Rays sold 30,000 Flex Packs in 2014. That means 33% of them were new. That’s not bad for a new concept.
This year, the Flex Pack comes with an additional bonus: half-price parking at Tropicana Field. Since parking last year ranged from $15-$30, that’s not bad. Not exactly the “free parking” they offered in 2007, but $7.50 for parking is not bad, especially considering most of the area private lots are $5-$10.
According to both media outlets, community involvement will continue to be highly emphasized. The Rays like to say that as future generations grow up with the Rays, the kids of today will be the ticket buyers of tomorrow. Getting players and employees involved in charities and youth efforts play a big role in that effort. These initiatives might not pay off today or this season, but over time, they are leaving positive impressions of the Rays brand.
Of course, getting the Rays name out there is important in an area that has a restaurant owned by a Cubs manager, a high school named after a former Yankees owner, a city park named after a White Sox Hall of Famer, and a museum named after a Red Sox great. Oh, and four minor league teams trying to sell tickets to their own games.
One part of the marketing campaign that is already making waves is this video, narrated by Evan Longoria, the Rays’ “Derek Jeter”, according to Darcy Raymond, the Rays marketing vice president.
There is a lot to like about this video. First of all, the great shots of the Tampa Bay area. As a Tampa resident, the shot of Bayshore Blvd at the end is awesome. Second, although it features Longoria’s voice and show clips of his Game 162 home run, the video focuses as much on the organization than any one particular player. For every player working out, there is a shot of a front office person with a computer. Part of being a Rays fan is understanding how important computers and statistics are to this organization. They are part of the team. Kudos to the video for showing that.
The video’s emphasis on “change” is also interesting. As a small-market team, the Rays almost have to market like a college sports team. At the college level, players only stay for four years, sometimes less. Change is constant. The Rays operate similarly, constantly looking at who might depart and who to plug in to what hole. Florida State, University of Florida, University of Miami, USF, and UCF all operate on the concept of change. While that is unfamiliar in most of Major League Baseball, for the Rays, it is a way of life.
The Tampa Bay Times and Tampa Bay Business Journal articles also go into depth on the Rays use of color this season and an increased emphasis on the Rays starburst logo. Perhaps the Rays can get Tampa’s SunTrust Building to showcase the team’s colors on their ziggurat dome.
How better to show unity between St Pete and Tampa than for both Tropicana Field and the SunTrust building to be lit after Rays victories?
Despite what other Rays bloggers might joke about, attendance at the ballpark is only a small result of a marketing campaign. It is also measured by influence in the market and the selling of an idea and a fandom. And the Tampa Bay baseball market is incredibly competitive. Just as the team on the field has to battle to win in 2015, so too does the marketing team behind the scenes.