*Extreme Chris Harrison voice* ... It was the most dramatic night of baseball ever…
OK, maybe it wasn't the most dramatic night of baseball ever, but it was certainly one of the most unique promotions this season. On Aug. 3, the Nashville Sounds hosted the first-ever "Bachville: An Evening of Drama and Baseball," which featured popular cast members from past seasons of the hit reality TV dramas "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette." While most of the night's drama stemmed from the rain delay that interrupted the game, the event was an instant hit, and it generated enough buzz to earn the Nashville Sounds MiLB's August/September Promotion of the Month Award
As with most great MiLB promotions, the idea for the event stemmed from a casual conversation that initially had nothing to do with baseball.
"We were just hanging out during a game and talking about who might be the next Bachelor, as you do during a game. We got to talking about how it seems the cast members all congregate here after they're on the show, and the conversation just sort of organically led to this cool idea," said Katie Painter, manager of business development in corporate partnerships.
Former 'Bachelorette' cast member Brady Toops hands out his first impression rose at the Bachville cocktail party.
After recruiting several members of the Sounds front office who are Bachelor-franchise enthusiasts to plan and execute the promotion, the team hit the ground running to recruit the ideal former cast members of the Bachelor franchise to be a part of their event. The Sounds' location in Nashville was beneficial to the planning, as many of the stars live in and around the city, and some are frequent visitors to the ballpark.
"We basically barricaded ourselves in a room and made a list of every cast member who lived in or close enough to Nashville that we could reasonably ask them to come. Carly [Waddell], Evan [Bass], Danielle [Maltby] and Brady [Toops] were almost certainly locked in from the beginning, because we had seen and talked with them at numerous games before," said Abby Holman, Sounds digital marketing manager.
After deciding who they would invite to their event, the team began to contact the former reality stars. The idea was a hit with past cast members almost immediately. Thanks to their intra-franchise friendships, word began to spread about who would be attending this night at the ballpark. One cast member took the initiative to reach out to the Sounds on her own to express her interest in participating after hearing from her friends, former "Bachelor in Paradise" and now married couple Bass and Waddell, about what they had been invited to do. Another initially missed the invite she had received but contacted the front office expressing her own interest. Eventually, the Bachville cast was finalized: Evan Bass, Tia Booth, James Fuertes, Danielle Maltby, Brady Toops, Carly Waddell and Christen Whitney.
"The cast members were all genuinely excited to be there. A lot of them have come to our games before, and this was an event where they actually got to hang out with their friends from the show and really just have a good time. We wanted the cast members to enjoy themselves, not just the fans, so we tried to give them a really positive experience," Holman said.
Former 'Bachelor' franchise cast members answer questions during a pre-game Q&A session.
The Sounds kicked off the night with an exclusive immersive experience for 180 fans after releasing a maximum 200 tickets to a pre-game Q&A session and a cocktail party with the cast members. Fans of the Bachelor franchise will be familiar with the concept of the First Impression Rose, given to the individual who leaves the show's lead with the best first impression. The Sounds incorporated the concept to their Cocktail Party, giving the cast members roses to hand out to the audience members who left them with the best first impressions. Those who received roses got to spend coveted one-on-one time during an inning in a suite with the respective cast member who presented them with a rose. Following pre-game festivities, the theme was executed throughout the night, with roses presented to in-game promotion participants, cast member participation in promotions, Bachelor-themed lineup pictures on the video board, and a partnership with Bev, a Nashville-based rosé producer. The cast members were fully ingrained in the event, with Bass throwing out the first pitch - clad in a Sounds jersey - his sons acting as the "Play Ball! kids," and his counterparts participating in on-field contests.
With their efforts, the Sounds accessed a new demographic of fans. Out of the 180 tickets sold to the pre-game festivities, 93 were purchased using Ticketmaster accounts, and 76 of those had never purchased a Nashville Sounds ticket prior to this instance. Pushing Minor League Baseball's mission to be accessible and welcoming to all members of a given community, the Sounds accessed fans who perhaps were not interested in baseball but were intrigued by an event that highlighted one of their other interests.
The Nashville Sounds' famed guitar-shaped video board displays players in stats in a 'Bachelor' theme.
"We want to welcome everybody in our community to Sounds games. With this event we got to do that. We were able to access people who maybe don't like baseball that much, but they really like 'The Bachelor,' and this was something that they were really interested in attending," said Painter. "We want to lower the barrier of entry to Nashville Sounds games that a lot of people might see, and I think that's exactly what we did with this.".
In the world of social media, the Sounds knew exactly what they were doing. Understanding the Bachelor franchise programming and the spikes in attention from the consumers they were looking to access, the original announcement for the event came on a Monday - the primary air-date of Bachelor franchise episodes - the Sounds happened to have off and during which they knew the targeted audience would be paying attention. By tapping into the participating cast members and their followers, further announcements about who would be attending and updates on the event eventually garnered more than 151,000 impressions between Facebook, Twitter and the Instagram stories. Using the same timing philosophy, the event was planned on a date that fell following the end of the latest season of "The Bachelorette" and the beginning of the new season of "Bachelor in Paradise," capitalizing on the audience's peaked attention.
"We've seen what a success this was with a different demographic of people, and that success is something we definitely want to continue to see. There was a lot of interaction between the cast members and the fans, no matter who they were. That is exactly what we hoped would come of this," said Painter.
In the end, despite the inclement weather, Bachville was a hit with cast members and fans alike. Holman and Painter give credit to everyone in the organization - namely Sierra Siegel, Sounds business development manager, and Alex Wassel, director of marketing - for pulling it off. From cast recruitment to programming to food and beverage to logistics, the entire night was executed with Bachelor on the brain.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the final rose (Promotion of the Month award) of the night (Minor League Baseball season). Nashville will join fellow 2019 Promotion of the Month winners Omaha, Myrtle Beach, Corpus Christi and Charleston as automatic finalists for a Golden Bobblehead Award, presented at the MiLB Innovators Summit in El Paso, Texas, on Thursday, Sept. 26. Visit MiLBInnovatorsSummit.com for more information on the Golden Bobblehead Awards.