In a society where we're fortunate to have great sports, food and an abundance of both, I'm always amazed by how the two help each other when it comes to marketing and branding:
- Hometown pizza joints such as Pizza Club La Habra in Southern California keep their store bustling by partnering with little league sports teams and offering specials for big pro-game nights
- The Dodger dog reminds avid baseball fans which team is famous for selling the foot-long frankfurter
- Tailgate parties help make great barbecue synonymous with pro football
- Food and charity are one in the same at Ole' Miss, where the University of Mississippi volleyball team offers free admission if fans bring two cans of food to donate to the Oxford Food Pantry
Regardless of how these efforts serve their respective business goals, these promotions help get the word out about a business and imprint its brand on the minds of consumers:
- Pizza Club La Habra uses its online calendar and e-newsletters to promote sports-related specials and drive regular traffic
- The Dodger dog is a legend, so much so, it has it's own page on Wikipedia
- Food Network star Guy Fieri travels to football games across America to meet the fans and taste their food, a big win for sports team franchises
- Ole' Miss alerts the local media about its Volleyball games while giving back to the community during the holidays and spreading the word about a local charity
And right now, Taco Bell is hitting a home run (cliché intended) with its Steal A Base, Steal A Taco
promotion for the second year in a row.
If you've been following the World Series, you might be planning to pick up a free taco on Tuesday, Oct. 28 at Taco Bell—yes, that's tomorrow—all thanks to a stolen base by Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Jason Bartlett in Game 1. To honor the rarity of stolen bases in the World Series, Taco Bell is offering free crunchy seasoned beef tacos between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. (your time) on Tuesday.
Now, I've heard a lot of mixed reviews about Taco Bell. Those who love their food, really love it. Those who don't, really don't. Still, there's no arguing with the impact their partnership with the Major League Baseball has on its brand:
- Last night, during a late-game rally by the Phillies, a neon sign of the company's signature bell icon was shown lighting up on international television
- The company's banner hangs strategically on the boards behind the catcher, so the Taco Bell logo appears in photos and videos showing the batter
- Numerous commercials during the game help Taco Bell tell millions of TV viewers about its "Think Outside The Bun" promotions
Equally as fascinating is how this is the second year Taco Bell has done this promotion. The company generated a lot of attention last year when Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury stole second base in Game 2, making him the first pro-baseball player to steal millions of tacos for America.
That's a lot of tacos! But obviously effective for Taco Bell to take the free-taco deal into year two. In the past, I've reported on how sports figures have said these types of promotions are a distraction to the game. That might be true. Although I did read one report about how a promotion like "Steal A Base ..." will help viewers pay attention to the finer details of the game, not just the home runs and hits.
As for Bartlett, with the Rays' 10-2 loss to the Phillies last night, and multiple strikeouts for the 29-year old California native, I can't help but wonder if he's celebrating his steal of millions of tacos right now. Hopefully it lends as inspiration to help his team get a win in Game 5.
Judy "the foodie" Asman