Peanuts, Cracker Jack, and … cartoons?
That’s right, there’s an eye-catching new partnership that has us longing for our youth and wishing summers were forever. Several weeks ago, Minor League Baseball announced a unique collaboration with Cartoon Network on its “Best Summer Ever” initiative, which seamlessly combines baseball games and Cartoon Network original series, delighting both kids and adults alike.
Minor League Baseball’s VP of Business and Development Gerald Jones explained how this partnership came about, saying that “Cartoon Network was looking to expand its ‘Best Summer Ever’ marketing initiative, and wanted to reach communities that overlap with — perfectly, actually — the Minor League Baseball footprint.”
Cartoon Network is aspiring to reach a national, diverse fan base looking for safe, family fun and entertainment at a value. Coincidentally, that’s precisely the audience that Minor League Baseball caters to and specializes in.
As Jones pointed out, “we offer a family-fun atmosphere on a night-in and night-out basis at 159 ballparks nationwide, giving CN the opportunity to display content on video boards to crowds eager for precisely what their network is providing.”
Cartoon Network series featured throughout the promotion include “The Amazing World of Gumball,” “Craig of the Creek,” “Teen Titans Go!” and “We Bare Bears.” The partnership encompasses a total of 50 games at 15 different minor league ballparks, with multiple “Best Summer Ever” promos scheduled at each venue.
The promos themselves entail a pre-game activation built around two 11-minute intervals of Cartoon Network original programming that air on the stadium video board. During the game itself, the partnership continues with CN previews and teasers interspersed throughout the game, and after the final inning, the participating stadiums air another 11-minute interval of network programming.
MiLB and Cartoon Network have been happy with the results of the collaboration thus far. Jones described the “Best Summer Ever” program as a resounding success for all involved, noting that “as with any partnership it fits a variety of parameters important to both sides.”
“This campaign lines up perfectly with Minor League Baseball’s vision,” he said. “The league aims to create industry-leading value for fans, member clubs, local communities, and partners. When you roll that into this partnership, and what Cartoon Network is about, it ‘checks all the boxes,’ if you will.”
For the network, it gets access to a broad platform with minor league ball clubs known for their penchant in designing creative, engaging, innovative promotional campaigns that attract families and crowds of all types.
“That’s what our entire league is built on and about,” Jones stated. “Here, you see it all — Family Night, Dollar Dog Night, Student Night, Super Hero Day, etc. For teams in the minor leagues, it’s all about keeping fans interested and engaged. The entire emphasis is really on the experience and the atmosphere.”
It’s precisely that audience Cartoon Network’s marketing team is striving to reach. In turn, the network has a ready-made audience looking for exactly the kind of content Cartoon Network programming provides.
Having cartoons and being associated with fun characters kids are familiar with keeps the much younger fan base interested and engaged. What youngster wouldn’t enjoy watching baseball with his or her favorite cartoon character involved or in attendance, and getting to see the shows they watch outdoors on an enormous screen?
That connection and association creates yet another draw to the MiLB games for parents hoping to entertain their kids and keep them happy. It may even make it easier for some baseball fans, helping them bring their otherwise reluctant children out to more games just to see the cartoons and festivities. Collaborating with Cartoon Network also provides a reservoir for content creation and novelty that the league can use for future marketing designed to grow the game.
The win-win relationship Jones mentioned has been proven, as teams involved in the “Best Summer Ever” partnership have seen an uptick in enthusiasm and the always-important ticket sales.
“It’s definitely been successful for us,” Jones stated, “because we have clubs not part of the initial rollout asking how they can get involved with the Cartoon Network partnership going forward.”
It’s common practice for different teams to take note of what works around the league and do what they can to emulate the promotions and marketing strategies that are most effective.
Jones and MiLB are hoping to expand the partnership in the future, involving more clubs around the league on a more robust, comprehensive basis. Jones said that some teams already do things similar to this campaign, but all of that is conducted on an individual, team-by-team basis. Bringing it all under one umbrella in the same Cartoon Network collaboration would create a single, unified, cohesive campaign that the league can better work into their overall marketing strategy.
Here’s hoping that Minor League Baseball and Cartoon Network’s “Best Summer Ever” gets even better next year.