Have The Dodgers Found Their Magic Sports Marketing Mix?

There may be no other entertainment property that can match Sports’ ability to trade on both nostalgia and hope.  Politicians may hope that they can – perhaps they have to work a lot harder to convince their fans that, however bad they were the year before, there is a chance they might become better. For that reason, it is impressive when a team’s sports marketing shines above the rest. They may be talking about different marketing angles at theSports Marketing Association Conference in October, but the true magic comes from the mix of talent and entertainment – which the Los Angeles Dodgers now have in spades.

Koufax

There’s a 24/7 machine of sports information across radio-waves and numerous cable or network channels. Home cinemas bringing viewers closer to the action than they could by spending more than their plasma screens cost in the first place. Yet some franchises are able to fill their stadiums or arenas time and time again.

The Dodgers have historically brought league leading numbers (or close) to the park until they ran into an issue caused by their previous ownership – apathy. That fan apathy plus the availability of games on TV led many fans to stay away or not even pay attention. It was something that was unheard of for a perennially solid team with a rabid fan base. Other teams (like the Marlins) might have won more championships recently, but their fans were getting burned by the ups and downs that lesser franchises find in the balance between owners making money and fielding winners. But, the Dodgers (thankfully) got out of a bad situation by being sold to a collective of people who seemed to care more about winning and fielding a solid team for the fans.  The fact that the face of the ownership is local legend, Magic Johnson.

The team struggled in the first year under the new ownership and I think I might be representative of the general public when I only attended one game after attending a lot more per season prior to the bad owner’s “regime.”  I was thinking this year that it might take a few years before I go as many times as I used to.

That thought change immediately directly before the Opening Day game on Monday. This change was because of something the team did to draw upon that mix of nostalgia and hope – again,  as only sports teams are able to. They leveraged both to drive excitement about the possibilities in an opening video that saw the ball passed from local sports heroes to entertainers and finally to Magic Johnson.  Not satisfied in having Magic throw the first pitch, they threw some drama by having the Dodger manager call for a pitching change – to one of the best pitchers in baseball history, Sandy Koufax. It was well written and perfect genius.

The excitement it generated fed into the belief that everything can happen – and that is sure to fill the seats and get more people to tune in.  It didn’t hurt that the team beat their rivals on that opening day game.  It will be interesting to see how the Dodgers repackage and build upon that video footage through the course of the year.  If done right, fans can remain excited without regard for the fact that the team proceeded to lose the next two games to the Giants. The beauty of sports is that there is always a point that we can look forward to next year.  Hopefully the Dodgers don’t drop the ball on the field or in their media plan and allow for any gains to be lost.

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