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Panthers Promotions Have Bite

Published by: Promotional Consultant

Bluegrass Promotional Marketing Scores NFL Account

Fred Parker, CEO of Bluegrass Promotional Marketing (UPIC: BLUEGRAS) in Charlotte, North Carolina is a football fan—especially since his company has been named the preferred promotional marketing agency for the Carolina Panthers for the 2006 season.

It all began four years ago, when Bluegrass sold lenticular cups to the food and beverage division of the Panthers organization. “That’s how the relationship started and we just sort of branched out from there into making contacts in the marketing world with the Panthers,” he says. “This has led us into game day sponsorships.”

Parker works closely with the Panthers’ marketing group and corporate sponsors, so he says game day promotions are relatively simple. “We deliver the products to the stadium and the Panthers organization has the part-time or temporary staff there on game day to hand out products as fans come through the gates. For us, it’s really no different than a regular drop-ship order,” he says.

Wearables are always popular at Panthers games, including a long-sleeved t-shirt featuring the Panthers logo on front and back.

Choosing the right promotional products for pumped-up Panthers fans is key, Parker says. “What we’re seeing right now is that we’re entering a new day where people don’t want cheap stuff,” he says. “If they’re getting something, they want it to be of value.”

But Parker says this can be a challenge, especially when working with a limited budget. And since people have varying opinions of what a valuable giveaway should be, Parker and his team must study the fans to determine what products will be successful.

“We try to get in the mindset of, ok, I’m walking through the gate and get handed a freebie. Am I looking for the nearest trashcan, or do I think, ‘Oh, this is cool,’” Parker says. “We try to look at it from that perspective before we even come up with the ideas.”

A big part of product selection is whether or not the fan will bring it to another game. A mini AM/FM radio would be more appreciated than something like a checkbook cover, Parker says. “The biggest thing we look at is what use is the fan going to get out of it.”

Hats are the most popular giveaways, Parker says, but he must be careful not to detract from sales of Panthers merchandise. “If we’re going to give a hat away, let’s give it away at a night game, to where the percentage of hat sales they would have inside the stadium would not be hurt as drastically as if it was 80 degrees and sunny,” Parker says.

The Panthers, along with Bluegrass’ other clients, can count on a solid relationship with Parker. “We come up with the creative, we do the renderings and the mock-ups as part of the overall process,” Parker says. “We can deliver a value proposition they don’t see from other people.”

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