Minnesota Twins Look to Draw Younger Fans to the Ballpark With 'McDonald's Approach' to Merch
The Minnesota Twins are taking a "McDonald's approach" to ballpark promos. No, they're not replacing dollar dog night with discounted Big Macs. But they are borrowing from McDonald's recent merchandise playbook.
At 53-67, the Twins are 17 games out of first place in their division and virtually guaranteed to miss the playoffs. That makes it tough to sell tickets, so the team has had to look for other ways to get casual fans out to the ball game.
Its latest idea was a limited-edition merchandise launch celebrating the 30th anniversary of the team's 1991 World Series win. The Twins partnered with Minnesota native DJ Skee—an artist, radio personality and avid baseball fan—on the designs, with Winning Streak Sports and Herschel Supply Co. producing the items.
The limited collection included two different banners, a pennant and a backpack, all retailing at premium prices. (The backpacks listed at $150.) The items were available exclusively at Target Field for one night only.
The ‘91 World Series HQ is set up at Gate 34!
— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) August 14, 2021
This strategy—a capsule-style drop of exclusive merchandise designed by an artist whose involvement is itself a draw for buyers—was intentional. And, as Chris Lencheski, CEO of Winning Streak Sports, told CNBC, it was heavily inspired by McDonald's.
“You’re leveraging social commerce,” Lencheski said. “It’s different from e-commerce because social commerce is exactly what McDonald’s did with Travis Scott."
For the Twins, the social commerce aspect was key. The team wanted to draw younger fans to the ballpark and venture outside its usual fan demographics. DJ Skee has a sizeable social media following, allowing the Twins to tap into an audience they might not otherwise be able to reach.
“It’s leaning into something that’s old and making it feel new again so that the younger generation that we struggle to reach is interested in coming to the ballpark,” Heather Hinkel, Twins vice president of brand marketing, told CNBC.
“We’re always interested in sales and want to sell out, but I think we’re looking at the bigger picture—did we create buzz and drive people to the stadium,” she added. “Were we able to drive engagement around a product launch?”
Bid now on a Minnesota Twins x DJ Skee: 'The 91 Collection Package!
— Twins Authentics (@TwinsAuthentics) August 13, 2021
Creating buzz and driving engagement? That's exactly what good branded merchandise does. And it's clear that the marketing team behind the collection is paying attention to trends in modern promotional marketing.
Will it revolutionize the way pro sports teams conduct ballpark promotions? Probably not. But it's another tool in teams' marketing and merchandising tool kits. We'll be surprised if we don't see more like it in the near future.