Capitalizing on the Internet obsession with all things bacon, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, a minor league baseball team, created a big-time buzz with the simple addition of a slice of bacon to their uniforms.
The uniforms generated national coverage from Yahoo, Time, ESPN, CBS and others while setting off an overwhelmingly positive firestorm on social media. The team even earned a retweet from GQ Magazine.
The Lehigh Valley IronPigs, the Triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, are based in Allentown, P.A., where they play in a stadium with a seating capacity of 8,100. The IronPigs name actually refers to pig iron, used in the manufacturing of steel—a major industry in Pennsylvania.
As part of their #smellthechange marketing campaign, the IronPigs also rolled out a limited edition scratch-and-sniff bacon-smelling T-shirt.
GM Kurt Landes says that the bacon-themed uniforms are about being “fun and witty.” The team kept its red shirts with "'Pigs" in script across the chest, adding a strip of bacon as an underline. Another bacon strip replaced the IronPigs logo on the cap, and a strip of bacon runs down both legs on the pants.
“Having a piece of bacon as the logo on our hat just screams fun and unique and crazy and we're very proud of that,” Landes says.
So what does all this add up to for the IronPigs? We’ve all been inundated with bacon memes over the last few years, and by tying into bacon’s popularity the IronPigs immediately generated a rasher of positive publicity and increased revenue. The team experienced an immediate bump in merchandise sales, with orders for the bacon-themed baseball caps and T-shirts coming in from across the country, according to Jon Schaeffer, the team’s director of new media. Add that to all of the publicity, and we’d call that a communications win.
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