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Giants Making a Splash With Ethnic Marketing

You may have missed it, but the Giants unveiled a pretty unique bobblehead earlier this week at AT&T Park. A Willie Mays retro doll? Hardly. An Edgar Renteria career retrospective, with patches of a jersey from each team he'd played for? Nope. Instead, it was a doll of Filipino boxer Manny Pacquiao, wearing a Giants jersey while sporting a world title belt on his waist.

The dolls were given away as part of a special ticket packet sold for Tuesday's "Filipino night," a promotion which Giants officials claim brought an additional 10,000 fans -- or more -- compared to the team's traditional Tuesday night crowd.

How much does that kind of a bump bring in for the Giants? Each ticket and bobblehead combo costs a minimum of $20, with better seats priced at $35. That means San Francisco raked in a minimum of $200,000, and probably earned something closer to $300,000 for the one night promotion.

Interestingly, this is hardly the first time that the Giants have tapped the "ethnic night" tree to boost ticket sales. As CNBC's Darren Rovell points out, the team used Pacquiao to throw out a first pitch last year, presenting him with a jersey and fielding queries about how Pacquiao and the team were connected. Even before that, the Giants were one of the first organizations to embrace foreign language jerseys, donning "Gigantes" get ups to boost interest in the Hispanic community.

So why does Ethnic marketing work so well for San Francisco? It's an interesting question. Obviously, San Francisco is proud of its diversity and fiercely independent groups. While that has yet to spurn a "Chinese night," the marketing arm of the Giants front office clearly saw an opportunity to capitalize on the underlying strains of nationalistic pride prevalent throughout all segments of San Francisco's citizenry.

Naturally, that raises an interesting question: Is San Francisco a unique situation, or should other teams be targeting nationalistic marketing the way the Giants are? The Dodgers have made some strides to target Southern California's Hispanic community while the Padres have focused their efforts on bringing in fans from the large military bases near the city.

Yet neither of those more broad-based initiatives -- nor any others I've come across -- are nearly as innovative or creative as the ones being used by the Giants. Ethnic nights may have seemed a strictly minor league operation in the past, but in the current economic climate, the Giants seem to be the bellweather of a new era when teams will try anything to put butts in seats. Evidently targeting the Filipino community via a boxer they lionize is one move that works.

By Cameron Smith  |  April 23, 2009; 11:57 AM ET
Categories:  Giants  
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The Giants are reaching out the Geeky-American community, too. On April 27th vs. the Dodgers they're having a Star Trek night, with costume contest for fans and a protional giveaway of a foam finger making a Vulcan salute. (And to expose my own geek heritage, it is true that in the Star Trek universe Starfleet's HQ is in San Francisco and Vulcans are big baseball fans, even though they can't figure out how a race as illogical as humanity could have invented a game that's such a nearly perfect blend of mental and physical challenges.)

Posted by: greggwiggins | April 23, 2009 12:59 PM | Report abuse

I can't speak for the rest of the league, but it's not new to Washington. The team has had hispanic heritage day or something like that for at least the last couple of years.

Posted by: fuglynats | April 23, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

According to a recent copy of ASianWeek, a SF-area free-distribution paper indicates that Tim Lincecum is of Filipino heritage. My son, who works for a west coast NL team was skeptical, but somehow confirmed this a week later. We know that he can throw out the first pitch...

Posted by: laborday2323 | April 26, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

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