Ballpark Digest has named the "Bacon vs. Tacos" competition, featuring Minor League Baseball's Lehigh Valley IronPigs and Fresno Grizzlies, as its 2017 Promotion of the Year.
This marks the first time that teams have combined forces on a promotion worthy of the prestigious industry honor.
The multifaceted campaign, which included the website baconvstacos.com, bacon- and taco-themed merchandise at team stores and a fan vote to determine a winner, culminated with the loser (Fresno and their Tacos) wearing the winners' (IronPigs') caps for a game on June 22.
"We wanted to put a new twist on bacon and Fresno was in the process of doing the same with tacos," said IronPigs President and General Manager Kurt Landes. "So we worked together to continue to enhance our brands by continuing this fun 'fight' our fans had seen and participated in for the better part of two years."
Among the most creative and innovative franchises in all of sports, the IronPigs started the food craze that is sweeping Minor League Baseball with their 2014 "Smell the Change" rebrand that debuted the now-famous bacon logo and then spawned the fun "Bacon USA" nickname for Coca-Cola Park. The following year, the Grizzlies joined the food fight with their taco jerseys, and a rivalry was born.
(We use the term "rivalry" loosely as bacon is a clear, dominant winner)
The two teams were jockeying for position in the hearts and stomachs of fans long before this award-winning promotion. After a number of social media interactions, the teams came together with a plan for 2017. Step 1: More Twitter grandstanding. This time, it was Landes and Grizzlies' General Manager/Executive Vice President Derek Franks exchanging the jabs leading up to the announcement of the promotion.
"My favorite thing about it is, it truly did start with the back-and-forth between the two staffs years ago," Franks said. "It started as real Twitter beefs over promotions. We didn't orchestrate that stuff early on. We had some organic Twitter fights that had people paying attention to the two clubs. Then fast-forward to this year and it culminates with a promotion like this. It makes it really cool to think back."
Nearly 20,000 people visited baconvstacos.com during the voting period with Bacon receiving 53 percent of the vote. In addition to the online and social media aspects of the campaign, the IronPigs hosted "Bacon vs. Tacos" night on May 27. That night featured a ban on taco sales at Coca-Cola Park, the debut of the "Fighting Bacon" cap on-field, bacon bits added to the menu as an optional topping on any food item, discounts on Candied Maple Bacon on a Stick and a postgame bacon-themed fireworks show.
The competition drew national attention, even appearing on ESPN's SportsCenter, and Ballpark Digest was among those who took notice.
This is the second time the IronPigs have won the prestigious award, presented annually to the organization(s) with the best, most creative and most engaging promotion in all of Minor League Baseball. The IronPigs have also received more "Golden Bobbles," promotional awards voted on directly by fellow club members in baseball, than any other franchise in Minor League Baseball.
"To do it with two teams from two different leagues from across the country, it added a different element that hadn't been done before," Landes said. "It's what made it fun and made it a challenge at the same time."
For fans interested in celebrating the victory for #TeamBacon, the Majestic Clubhouse Store at Coca-Cola Park still has a wide variety of bacon-themed merchandise available. Stop by during normal business hours (Monday-Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday 12-5 p.m.) or shop online anytime at ironpigs.milbstore.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.