Good or bad, wacky promotions do the job

Good or bad, wacky promotions do the job

Curtis Kalleward

Amateur sports teams are known for, shall we say, interesting methods of attracting a steady stream of spectators.

Giveaways and theme nights are nothing new, and most have been successful in various mediums and markets.

Usually, a team needs a ruse to draw in fans because of lackluster performances. In theory, a sports team should be able to fill a stadium if they fill the win column (unless the team plays professional baseball in Florida, then all bets are off).

And yet amidst all of the golden awards displayed in the newly-designed trophy hall, Grand Valley State University athletics still suffer the empty bleacher curse.

The women’s soccer team is the latest team to succumb to advertising antics just to put butts in seats. Unfortunate, considering last season’s national championship, and this past summer’s wildly successful television coverage of the World Cup to boot.

This past Friday, the first 100 fans to arrive at the ticket gate were given all the Qdoba they could consume. Not sure about you, but I know one of my good friends usually boycotts these types of events, only because his heart tends to stop beating at the mere thought of such a gorging.

When was the last time you went to a home volleyball match? They give out all sorts of goodies. Against Michigan Technological University on Sept. 11, one lucky student won a brand-new LCD television just for showing up and lending her support.

Some teams go one step farther than giveaways with theme nights. Minor league hockey teams have Hanson Brothers nights (pause reading and go watch Slapshot if you missed that reference). GVSU football has had Black-out Nights and White-out Nights in the past, and rumor has it that next season will feature a Pink-polka-dots-out Night.

Some promotions actually turn a profit. Head over to Fifth Third Ballpark for their famous (infamous?) Fifth Third Burger. That disgusting behemoth has garnered attention from “SportsCenter” and “The Today Show” to “Man v. Food” and cholesterol physicians everywhere. And the burger has become a bigger cash cow than the one they take all that extra beef off of to make it.

Sometimes, though, promotions go awry. If you were one of the 13,128 fans at GVSU’s football home opener, you know exactly where I’m headed with this.

Oh, sure, someone must have felt brilliant while suggesting that Meijer donate nearly-expired cases to GVSU students to use as noisemakers during the nationally televised broadcast.

Yet somehow, that seems as though it might also have room to fail. Which it did.

“It was spectacularly poor decision-making,” said GVSU fan Doug Gibbs. “I find it extremely philanthropic of the university to pass out food to its struggling students, but there’s a definite bad idea about giving anything that could be used as a projectile to people who may be intoxicated.”

Here’s a recipe for disaster: take 5,000 college students, arm each with two boxes of macaroni and two orange powder pouches, add a shot of alcohol and a national television audience, and mix.

“Whoever thought of the mac n’ cheese idea probably got fired and had a lot to clean up,” said junior Sarah Mohney. “It was ridiculous.”

Next season, Meijer should change up the pasta shapes. We could use added assistance moving about the crowded student section, “elbow”-ing people out of our way.

But don’t be mad at Meijer. After all, the promotion worked. How many times have you heard people talk about the pasta incident?

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