This is the third article in a multi-part series detailing the evolution of the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp's 2020 promotions schedule. To read the first installment, click here. For the second installment, click here. When MiLB.com last spoke with Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp promotions director David Ratz, he remarked that he had been "going
This is the third article in a multi-part series detailing the evolution of the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp's 2020 promotions schedule. To read the first installment, click here. For the second installment, click here.
When MiLB.com last spoke with Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp promotions director David Ratz, he remarked that he had been "going back and forth with a nationally recognized toy company on a big idea, one of our biggest outside-the-box ideas that no team has done before."
Now he's ready to reveal just what that idea is. On June 5, the Marlins' Double-A affiliate will stage an all-encompassing celebration of what Ratz calls "the best-selling car of all-time." That car is made of plastic, weighs 17 pounds and retails for approximately $55: the Little Tikes Cozy Coupe.
Even if the name Cozy Coupe doesn't ring a bell, it's almost certain you're familiar with this iconic toddler-centric vehicle. Well over 10 million have been sold, the majority of which feature a red body and yellow roof.
"It's like any Minor League Baseball promo. What's that out-of-the-box thing that we can celebrate, that also strikes a chord and rings true with fans?" Ratz said. "We're always looking for that thing that no other team has done."
Little Tikes was founded in Hudson, Ohio, in 1969. The Cozy Coupe, inspired in part by Fred Flintstone's prehistoric foot-powered "automobile," made its debut 10 years later. Little Tikes is now part of MGA Entertainment, a Los Angeles-based toy conglomerate.
"Surprisingly, I did not have a Cozy Coupe growing up," Ratz said. "That said, my parents provided for me very well and I have no complaints about how I was raised. But you can't grow up and not know what they are. ... I did research on the company and pitched the idea to the marketing arm of Little Tikes. 'Hey, we have this awesome idea, to do a big theme night around the Cozy Coupe.'
"So I threw the idea for the night at them, with the understanding that this can go three ways. One is, 'Hey, great idea, here's a C and D [cease and desist letter]. Have a nice day.' In Minor League Baseball, that happens a lot. Two, 'We can't offer you a lot of support, but go for it. Have a nice day.' And three, 'This is awesome. What can we do to help?' They went with three, so now we're working with their team in LA.They're totally on board to support this theme night. The target demo, for us and them both, is exactly the same: young families with young kids."
While Ratz and his staff are still brainstorming the specifics of the promotion -- internally and with Little Tikes -- several key elements have been determined. As they do every Friday, Jumbo Shrimp players will wear red jerseys featuring Jacksonville's "Bold City" nickname. These jerseys will be complemented by yellow specialty hats, so the players resemble the Cozy Coupe's red base and yellow top.
The Jumbo Shrimp also have partnered with a local business, Ponte Vedra Golf Carts, to put the evening further over the top.
"They're giving us, at our request, a red fully functioning golf cart with a yellow top," Ratz said. "So we'll actually be giving away a street-legal Cozy Coupe -- celebrating childhood while making a connection to adulthood."
Of course, there'll also be a wide variety of Cozy Coupe-themed endeavors taking place between innings.
"We'll have races and games like 'How many people can we fit inside a Cozy Coupe?'" Ratz said. "The over-under on that is one, by the way."
Meanwhile, work continues apace on the entirety of the Jumbo Shrimp's promotional schedule. The team is tentatively planning to release it in full on March 4.
"We're putting the finishing touches on a lot of things internally -- 95 percent of it is ready to go," Ratz said. "Our sales team is out there hitting it hard on the theme nights, working to fill up the ballpark. Once that's done, then it becomes about execution and sourcing, getting props and guests, things reserved and booked. That process starts now and goes up until about two days before the last day of the season.
"Our goal from the beginning is to try to get a good secondary promo for every night of the week, and we're darn close to that. Then, with five or 10, you shoot for the moon and hope it becomes that all-encompassing magical promotion that strikes a chord. Cozy Coupe is definitely one of those."
The Jumbo Shrimp might not be the only team celebrating Cozy Coupes this season, as Ratz reports that the Little Tikes marketing team is "looking to take it elsewhere around the country." If that occurs, he has one request, and one that those who work in Minor League Baseball will understand.
"My only ask to them -- and this was just an ask, they didn't have to abide -- was that if you do this in other parts of the country, just let us be the first."
Benjamin Hill is a reporter for MiLB.com and writes Ben's Biz Blog. Follow Ben on Twitter @bensbiz.