Souvenirs and sponsored game day giveaways.

Take me out to the ballgame;
Take me out to the crowd.
Give me a souvenir item,
And I’ll love your brand.

That may not be how the famous song goes, but maybe it should be. Game day giveaways are now an ingrained part of American sporting culture, and as such, provide an amazing marketing opportunity for enterprising companies.

It all started back in 1946, when the eccentric Bill Veeck became owner of the Cleveland Indians. Always looking to boost interest in the team, he came up with a variety of innovations, including Circus Night, exploding scoreboards, and morning games for shift workers during World War II. He also found an ingenious way of making giveaways more affordable – he used sponsors to cover all or most of the cost.

It was a winning situation for everyone involved. The team generated interest and saw increased attendance, the fans got a free gift to take home with them, and the sponsors got great exposure. It’s a strategy that has been the norm ever since.

These days, teams in every sport, professional and amateur, give away all sorts of things, from old favorites like hats and t-shirts, to unexpected things like light sabers and chia pets. Given away by the thousands, sometimes with threats of scarcity to encourage early arrivals and the increased concession sales that go along with them (only the first 10,000 through the gate!), one thing all these souvenirs have in common is incredible brand exposure.

And it’s not just the fans who receive them who are exposed to the sponsor’s brand. Wearable items show off their logo (and that of the team, of course), to uncountable people with every wear. And items like rally towels and bobblehead dolls often find prominent display locations at home or in the office. Even better, the sponsors are allying themselves with fans’ team of choice, which is always a good thing.

For many Americans, some of their most prized memories are trips to a baseball stadium or hockey arena. Why not tie your brand into that memory? It’s a marketing opportunity worth considering for any company.

So it’s root, root, root for the home team,
If they don’t win it’s okay.
Because I got a cool souvenir,
At the old ball game.