Why the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp are Celebrating the Anniversary of a Board Game

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The hat celebrating the night has become a hot commodity with fans. (Photo via Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp)

There are marketing promotions, and then there are Minor League Baseball marketing promotions. Known for their originality and somewhat obscurity, MiLB teams can make creative promotions out of everything from food to a board game.

The latter is just what the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp will do come July 15, when the team celebrates the 70th anniversary of Scrabble.

“Our Promotions Manager, David Ratz, came up with the idea while researching for the season and pitched it to our staff,” said Noel Blaha, Assistant General Manager for the Jumbo Shrimp. “As a staff, we discussed how this would be unique. It’s one that no other team has done. At the same time, it lends itself to a lot of fun. The board and tiles are easily identifiable.”

Not only will the team be celebrating the board game, they will be dressed like it too, donning Scrabble-like jerseys and hats for what they are calling ‘Words With Fans Night’ – a look that has fans foaming at the mouth to get their hands on at least a hat.

“We found Will Anderson, the reigning North American Scrabble Champion, and asked him if he would come participate in the night, and he was very gracious to accept our invitation. With him, we will be looking to set a world record for most simultaneous games of Scrabble.” – Noel Blaha

“Immediately upon our release of the promotional calendar, fans responded very positively to the ‘Words With Fans Night,’ especially the jerseys and caps,” said Blaha. “It was such a strong response that despite the caps not being in stock until July, we opted to set up a pre-order, so fans could guarantee they get their size once the caps arrive.”

A cross-section look at the hat the Jumbo Shrimp will wear. (Image via the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp)

While the Jumbo Shrimp could have chosen Yahtzee, Sorry!, or even Risk to celebrate, it was Scrabble’s iconic board and lettering that the staff felt would put the promotion over the top.

“The choice of the theme night was partly because it is the anniversary year for Scrabble, and partly because of how great the visuals of a Scrabble board-themed jersey and cap would look,” said Blaha. “The unique and easily identifiable board and game tiles allow for us to have fun with the Jumbo Shrimp name on the jersey and the “J” tile on the cap.”

Beyond having double-word-bonus-level uniforms, the Jumbo Shrimp staff took the promotion a step further to include the likes of the North American Scrabble Champion, a world record attempt, and a book drive to support a local children’s home.

“With the concept of the cap and jersey in mind, the staff continued to brainstorm other elements we could include to make it a fun, well-rounded promotional night,” Blaha said about how the staff took the promotion beyond just the uniform. The more we built on the initial Scrabble idea, the more complete the promotion became.”

Although the promotion may have been the brainchild of Ratz, Blaha noted that for all Jumbo Shrimp promotions the entire staff is included in the process of coming up with and refining promotions for the year.

“The creative process can best be described as inclusive. We included everyone on our staff in promotional brainstorms and everyone (from interns to grounds crew to general manager) are all asked to contribute. There is generally an initial spark of the idea, and once it is shared, it continues to gather steam, and little parts are added, removed, or tweaked until there is something that can stand on its own.”

The Jumbo Shrimp will don these fresh threads. (Image via the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp)

Still five months out from the actual night of the promotion, Blaha has happy with the traction it has already generated.

“The reaction was even better than I expected. We thought people would get a kick out of it that night, and the jerseys and caps would get attention, but usually that comes closer to the event date. To get picked up on the news and via social media months away from the event and days before individual tickets go on sale is a big win for us.”

Even though you may not be the reigning North American Scrabble Champion, it’s easy to see that the Jumbo Shrimp were able to hit a triple word score on this promotion.