Are The Pittsburgh Pirates Doing Marketing/Promotions/Giveaways Wrong?


We always enjoy writing about the Pittsburgh Pirates marketing strategy, even though it’s boring as hell for us.  For whatever reason, when we write about rock stars, bobbleheads and fireworks, people have an opinion.  We get crazed emails threatening to sic lawyers on us for our ‘bastardized’ photoshop work, but we also receive interesting comments from our sweethearts– you, our Beloved Readers.

To cut to the chase quickly on this topic because we think some of you couldn’t care less about this, go check out this article at Baseball Prospectus.  Yeah, sure John Perrotto works there, but ignore that and go check it out anyway.

The article is written by Ben Lindbergh and is titled Overthinking It:  The Not-So Secret Sabermetrics of Marketing.  It’s pretty self-explanatory.  It also could/well possibly maybe/might be the reason why the Cleveland Indians made a splash in free agency this offseason.

The Indians think they have a handle on what drives fans to the park.  The Indians are  using a company called ThinkVine  to change their marketing strategy based on a sabermetric approach to the fans who buy tickets to their baseball games.

The article made us think long and hard about what the Pirates do to get people to go to the ballpark.  Look, we hate concerts at PNC Park.  Always have, always will.  We don’t go to a ballpark to see a concert; if you do, that’s your business.  We go to a restaurant to eat great food, usually red meat.  We don’t go to PNC Park to see Neon Trees.

But we know for a fact of at least six people who bought tickets for the Blues Traveler Show on Saturday, June 15.  When we asked them if they were pumped to see the Dodgers that night we got the ‘deer in headlights’ reply.  Lesson learned.

As we read the deeply interesting article, it made us think of the Concert Series that is so prominent on the yearly promotional schedule for the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Does it have to be on Saturdays?  Does it even make a nickel for the club?

"*Another tidbit: King revealed that it’s tough to break even on concerts. That surprised us, since the Rays run a summer concert series at Tropicana Field, and the Rays generally don’t do things that aren’t backed up by the data. Cleveland is putting on only one concert this summer."

Look, we get it.  People love concerts.  People love the Pirates promotional schedule, but does it really make sense?  We believe that the Bucs could fill the stadium on June 1, June 15, and August 31 without Kool & The Gang, Blues Traveler, and Third Eye Blind.  Now, September 21 might be… might be a different story.  But what the concerts say to us is that the Buccos feel they can’t.  That’s a damn shame.

The Rays had eight concerts in 2012, including LL Cool J, O.A.R., 3Doors Down, ZZ Top, Earth Wind and Fire and, in a really interesting move, The Wiggles for Kids Fun Day.   Tampa has always had difficulty filling their ballpark, but for different reasons than the Pirates of course.

In a quick search this season for the Rays concerts, we can’t find anything.

The Pirates have had concerts for several years, and you know damned well they have more on the way in 2014.

The Indians have one concert from what we can translate from their schedule, but the Tribe is doing a few unique things.  The Tribe has four hat giveaways, compared to zero last year.  Each of the Indians fireworks shows are themed such as U2, AC/DC, Motown, etc.

In the end, we couldn’t care less.  It’s not our money.  We wish more people thought like we do, but we also wish the Bucs had a few more dollars to spend on the actual players the team has on the roster, or, perhaps an even better idea, the players the team could have the opportunity to have on the roster by not pissing money away on weekend concerts.

Sure, it probably might translate to one reliever.  Or maybe a bench bat.  But in 2013, that might add up to the one win the team so desperately needs.  Having a marketing budget is a great thing.  Having a marketing budget simply for the sake of having a marketing budget is foolish.

Call us what you will, hate on us, but we prefer one clear goal when we attend PNC Park–our team winning.  Not singing and dancing.  (But maybe some drinking.  Drinking is cool.)

It seems to us like the Pirates want all three.  Good luck with that, fellas. And until the team wins, PNC Park will always be considered a ‘good night out.’

If it was up to us, we would focus on winning first.