Sports Biz with Darren Rovell

MLB All-Star Home Run Derby: I Really Like This Promotion

MLB All-Star Home Run Derby
Courtesy of MLB

Readers of this blog know that when there’s a good promotion, I’m going to talk about it. This one involves the Major League Baseball All-Star Game Home Run Derby.

In the past, when this was sponsored by Century 21, the company gave the fan whose player won the derby $250,000 towards the purchase of a home. It was a great gesture. It wasn’t that imaginative.

While the prize might not be as valuable, people will remember this promotion by State Farm, which started sponsoring the Derby last year.

Here’s the deal. One lucky fan picked out of the pool of entered names in the contest will get to come onto the field and call, a la Babe Ruth, where exactly Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz will hit his first pitch.

If Ortiz hits the shot where the fan said it would go, the fan wins a 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe hybrid vehicle, the official vehicle of MLB that has a value of roughly $50,500, and a 2009 season ticket package for his/her favorite MLB team.

Here’s why I think this works better than the Century 21 promotion. In the Century 21 Promotion there was very little chance for buzz for Century 21 after the contest. When someone won–-someone was obviously always guaranteed to win because everyone would be tied to a player--ESPN would do an interview and the local paper would do an interview.

With the State Farm contest, there is of course no guarantee to win, but if Ortiz connects with the fan’s call, the PR rewards here are great. It’s a national story that will be picked up everywhere and that rarely can be done for a promotion.

Even before the shot is called, the winning fan gets four tickets to the Home Run Derby (July 14) and the MLB All-Star Game (July 15), round trip airfare for four to New York, hotel accommodations for four nights, a Broadway night (dinner and show) and a $1,000 MasterCard gift card.

Again, the total value is probably less than what Century 21 offered. But the experience for the fan and the potential media rewards for State Farm should this happen equals a better overall promotion.

By the way, we’ve been assured that Ortiz will actually try to hit the shot where the fan called it. It’s also not the first home run. It’s literally the next pitch that Ortiz swings at.

Questions?  Comments?