Tigers representative speaks to American Marketing Association


Students show off clay bobble heads that they made during the Tigers marketing workshop hosted by AMA on Thursday, March 10. 

On March 10, the Oakland University chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA) welcomed a nearly full auditorium of Oakland University students for their Experiential Marketing Event that featured special guest and keynote speaker, Eli Bayless.

Bayless serves as the director of Promotions and Special Events for the Detroit Tigers.

Bayless presented on the importance of sports marketing and gave an inside look at the Tigers’ marketing strategies.

He focused on the topics of promotional merchandise, increasing ticket sales and generating sponsorship revenue. He also spoke on the topic of developing and maintaining fan affinity.  

With 16 years of experience in sports marketing, Bayless began his career as a game promotions intern for the San Francisco Giants in 2000 before moving to work as a promotions coordinator and manager for the Detroit Tigers in 2002.

Throughout the presentation, Bayless explained the four main areas of creating and supporting the Tigers brand that he is involved with each day.

These include promotions and merchandise, special events such as opening day, cultural heritage and thematic events like university days and pregame ceremonies. Fan affinity programs such as the Kids Club and the Paws mascot program are also part of his responsibilities.

“Our main focus on any game day falls on the last 15-20 minutes before the start of the game,” Bayless said. “Our goal in the promotions department is to create a unique experience that fans remember. The most important element of our promotional days at the ballpark are surrounded on capturing the attention of the non-traditional fans that come through our turnstiles.”

Bayless went on to speak about the power of social media and the huge role it plays as a way of connecting with fans and launching campaigns at little to no cost to the company.

From here, the main focus of the presentation shifted to the power of promotional merchandise, specifically the bobblehead.

Bayless presented a series of slides related to the design and development of the Ian Kinsler bobblehead, as well as the details associated with the overall production process.

“Promotional items like the bobblehead are wildly effective in accomplishing various marketing goals,” Bayless said. “In fact, marketing research has shown that bobbleheads are the most effective, time-tested and true item and are worth an average of 2,000 to 5,000 additional tickets.”

He then explained the process of producing the Ian Kinsler bobblehead, touching on the details of supply chain production, player selection and other elements. He said that although each of these products is produced overseas, they are all hand-carved and painted to perfection for each player.

Along with the presentation, Bayless pulled four people from the nearly full audience to the front of the auditorium participate in a bobblehead carving contest. He provided the pairs with a piece of clay, carving tools and 20 minutes to create their partner out of clay for a chance to win two tickets to Oakland University Night at Comerica Park.

Following the reveal, the audience declared the contest a draw and Bayless awarded all four participants with two tickets to the game.

Bayless closed by discussing “the power of free” and the concept of reciprocity associated with free giveaways. He then opened up for questions from the audience before dismissing the guests.

For more information on how to become involved with and attend more events hosted by the AMA at OU, visit marketingatou.com or find AMA on GrizzOrgs.com