CLEVELAND - Thousands of fans were all wearing the same thing at Saturday night’s Indians game – and it was no coincidence.
It was Chris Perez replica jersey night, one of many giveaway days at Progressive Field. Some wore the jersey buttoned, some unbuttoned. Others waved them like a rally towel and on the kids the one size for all XL jerseys looked more like replica dresses.
This item is what Indians Director of Marketing Sanaa Julien calls a “wearable” and is one of the most popular the team gives away.
“The most valuable promotions are high quality items,” Julien said. “The jerseys look like a player jersey replica, and are a special collectible to wear or keep.”
Each offseason, Julien and her team work to decide promotional giveaways and events and how they fit into the team’s home schedule. A number of factors go into it, including research from survey and player merchandise sales.
“Some of the giveaway days are better than others. We love the bobbleheads,” said Rose Fenstermaker from Warren.
Rose and her son Michael said they have a collection of 30 or 40 Indians bobbleheads.
2012 marks the return of bobbleheads, which were not on the team’s schedule in 2011. The slate also includes fan favorites like dollar dog night and student ID night, as well as fireworks.
Josh Koellner, a lifelong Indians fan from Akron, said he would be coming to the Asdrubal Cabrera bobblehead game this season. But a promotional night last season is one he will never forget.
“My dad just passed away last year and last time we went to a game was at dollar dog night,” Koellner said. “I think we had about 20 between the two of us.”
It’s those memories which link generations that make what Julien and her team does so special.
“It reminds people that the unexpected can happen. If you can celebrate that in a unique promotional item, they’ll always remember that day or make them think back to that day,” Julien said.
Kathy Lammana, an Indians fan of 43 years from Maple Heights, started to explain if she picked games based on giveaways.
Her 9-year-old son Vincent didn’t let her finish her sentence.
He chimed in about his favorites, like the cap and skateboard he got. Lamanna’s 9-year-old daughter Victoria was a fan of the Slider slippers she got at a ball game.
The plush slippers were also a favorite of Dawn Varuola.
“We went to the Mother’s Day game two years ago and my 11-year-old wore them all the time,” Varuola said. “It helped make a memory of the game.”
Five-year-old Ryan Ketchum remembered two things about his first game – Shin Soo-Choo hitting a homerun and the hot dog shirt he took home.
While giveaways may just seem like free stuff on the surface, they encompass much more. Julien said the team’s brand vision is connecting generations, celebrating families, creating memories.
They’re about Koellner never forgetting downing dollar dogs with dad at their last game together, those bobbleheads at the Fenstermakers’ home, each one a memory, young Ryan Ketchum’s raw memories of his first day at the ballpark.
It’s those ball games that become more than just what goes on inside the baselines, experiences and memories enhanced by promotions, baseball bonds passed through bloodlines.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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