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Bobbleheads Dominate MLB Promo Calendars

Garden gnomes, soap dispensers, fedoras and replica championship rings are just a few of the new promotional items MLB teams will give away at ballparks this season. Still, the promo product that remains the most collectible and universally popular in stadiums is the bobblehead. In fact, there are more than 130 bobblehead promotional nights scheduled at MLB parks in 2015, featuring replicas of current players, broadcasters and movie characters. 

"We give away a bobblehead, it automatically becomes a sellout," Rick Schlesinger, COO of the Milwaukee Brewers, recently told ESPN. "Every year we think we might have exhausted the bobblehead craze here in Wisconsin, and it doesn't happen."

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For 2015, the Brewers have sold out multiple packages of promotional tickets – entitling fans to a bobblehead of Bob Uecker's character from the film Major League and a bobblehead of catcher Jonathan Lucroy with a green light saber in his hand for Star Wars night. The Cincinnati Reds, meanwhile, have nine promotional bobblehead dates planned, and the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals each have eight. The Yankees are giving away four bobbleheads this year in the images of Masahiro Tanaka, Thurman Munson, Jacoby Ellsbury and Babe Ruth.


Bobblehead technology will also improve for 2015. The Brewers' Uecker figurine has a chip in it that will belt out three phrases from Major League and the Cardinals' Harry Caray bobblehead will also talk – a giveaway meant to honor the legendary voice of the rival Chicago Cubs. 

The popularity of bobbleheads is far from a fad – plans were recently announced to open a National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum in Milwaukee. The museum will host bobblehead events, autograph signings and mascot appearances, and it will include a bobblehead-themed restaurant. Alternatively, as an ongoing display, the Miami Marlins have a collection of about 600 baseball bobbleheads inside Marlins Park.

If bobbleheads aren't what you're looking for, though, MLB teams are offering quite a list of distinctive giveaways this year. A few top picks: Hisashi Iwakuma bear hats (Mariners) on April 25; BBQ branding irons (Twins) on May 25; and Star Wars-themed Death Star balls (Red Sox) on May 4 and R2D2 can coolers (Nationals) on July 19

Football Team Scores Equipment Through Golf

Mission Viejo High School's Diablo football team needed to raise money for new training and safety equipment and facilities, and they had a small timeframe to work with. Traditional fundraising efforts taking weeks or months weren't the answer. The solution was to pump up the previous year's fundraiser – the high school's annual Diablo Classic Golf Tournament.

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California-based Mission Viejo chose one of South Orange County's finest golf courses to host the event, and used the Diablo Classic website and a variety of online and personal communication efforts to advertise it. The tourney featured a round of golf plus lunch, dinner and opportunities to win Diablo-branded promotional gifts via hole-in-one contests and other on-course events. Prizes included branded golfers' gift-packs featuring shoe bags, divot fixers and tee pouches. Diablo-branded thank-you gifts were also given to golfers to encourage them to donate to the football team.

Tournament participants and donors enjoyed the promotional gifts, and the branding helped keep the Diablos in mind well after the football season ended. The tournament itself was a success as the effort exceeded expectations, raising more than enough money to cover the season's football needs.

Are you looking to raise money for your school or sports team? Make sure to use innovative techniques to connect prospects to a school's offerings to boost school enrollment or raise funds for teams. The best methods to do this use promotional products and a strong partnership with your distributor who can show you great ways to incorporate branded items into your campaign. 

Branded Apparel Aids School In Fundraiser

When the students at South Glens Falls High School reach their 28th straight hour of dancing for charity, one could imagine their energy drained and exhaustion setting in. In fact, it's quite the opposite. The South High Marathon Dance builds to a crescendo of anticipation in its final hour. Announcements are made for how much money was raised, who raised the most and who won the event's multiple raffles. The 800 students who danced all day and night create one final flourish with the Strut Your Stuff performance as their families cheer them on in the school's packed gym. 

For 38 years, the marathon dance has helped those in need, from paying for medical expenses to sending terminally-ill patients on dream vacations. On March 6-7 the students and supporting community raised $621,680, bringing their grand total to more than $4.82 million. It helps people like Nolan Jacox, a five-year-old with an autoimmune disease that causes him to produce too many white blood cells. As a result, he is allergic to most foods and must eat through a feeding tube. 

The school works with a screen printer/embroiderer that prints multiple garments for the recipients, families, production crew, alumni, students and more, as well as a fundraiser design that, last year, rose over $7,000 through sales of hoodies and short- and long-sleeve tees. The back of the shirts feature the name of every person that benefited from the money raised through the dance. "The dance and these shirts have helped with the lives of so many people," says Rob Chadwick, a father of two South High students. 

Over 90% of the student population participates in the dance. A student committee chooses the causes to support and determines the costumes that will be worn at the dance. "The kids prepare for the dance throughout the year," says Chadwick, who also works security for the dance. "They even practice special dances in their gym classes." In this case, the power of dance is more than just a phrase.

Wearables Have Star Power

Ellen DeGeneres knows the power of promotional products. The reigning queen of afternoon talk shows is known for gifting her celebrity guests with wacky, memorable, specially designed promotional items, such as a baby carrier bearing huge angel wings for Victoria's Secret Model Miranda Kerr, complete with makeup and hair accessories.

But one of Ellen's most popular giveaways is her branded male underwear, which she presents to male celebrity guests, sometimes on air, but more often in a gift bag for appearing on the show. A number of recipients, including country singer Tim McGraw and R&B singer/songwriter Jason Derulo have been caught wearing the skivvies in candid photos, the Ellen waistband visible above their low-slung jeans. She's so well-known for the underwear giveaways that OneRepublic lead singer Ryan Tedder turned the tables on Ellen and gifted her on the show with a pair of undies bearing his band's name on the waistband.

DeGeneres offers a wide variety of promotional items for sale on her website, too, including hoodies, socks, T-shirts, bags and many others. Smart marketers like Ellen know that branded apparel is a favorite with consumers across all segments. One promotional expert says that a reason for this is that when someone is wearing such a visible branded item, "it implies a deep level of acceptance and support for that brand."

Celebrities aren't the only ones who make use of branded apparel. Colleges and universities are one of the top markets for apparel today, says The Scarlet Marketeer's Mary Ellen Sokalsi, citing admissions, bookstores, athletic wear, fraternities and sororities as prospective niches. "They either want hip, soft comfortable fashions, hardcore workout wear or spirit-boosting pride wear with a collegiate tone," she says. "The fabrics, styling and imprint are all important. The synergy of the three can make or break a promotion."

For example, Portland State University (PSU) wanted to build branding around a program, "Portland State of Mind" that celebrated events around the Portland community and on campus. So they contacted their promotional products partner who provided the school with T-shirts. The tees had a Portlandia style and feel, and were designed by PSU student artists, which included images of a campus food cart and the "Victor Viking" school mascot. The tees were sold online and on campus, and were advertised in the school's alumni newsletter, that goes out to some 100,000 people.

The success of the first year's program led to a new program called "Fearless" in which PSU students are encouraged to be fearless in their choice of academic pursuit and lifestyle. The new Fearless e-store gives the students the ability to customize their apparel to proclaim their choice. They could be a "Fearless Architect," or a "Fearless Teacher" or "Fearless Fireman." The Fearless program is supported online by YouTube videos produced by students that explain the programs and how to order the merchandise. Both programs have been very popular in terms of orders and visibility on campus. For example, Portland State University (PSU) wanted to build branding around a program, "Portland State of Mind" that celebrated events around the Portland community and on campus. So they contacted their promotional products partner who provided the school with T-shirts. The tees had a Portlandia style and feel, and were designed by PSU student artists, which included images of a campus food cart and the "Victor Viking" school mascot. The tees were sold online and on campus, and were advertised in the school's alumni newsletter, that goes out to some 100,000 people.


The success of the first year's program led to a new program called "Fearless" in which PSU students are encouraged to be fearless in their choice of academic pursuit and lifestyle. The new Fearless e-store gives the students the ability to customize their apparel to proclaim their choice. They could be a "Fearless Architect," or a "Fearless Teacher" or "Fearless Fireman." The Fearless program is supported online by YouTube videos produced by students that explain the programs and how to order the merchandise. Both programs have been very popular in terms of orders and visibility on campus. 
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