One big challenge business owners and managers face today is dealing with the millennial generation — those generally considered to be between the ages of 18 and 34. Many of us are constantly trying to figure out how to make our brand attractive to these consumers. Here’s some advice: Don’t do what the Lexington Legends baseball team did.
The marketing team at the club, which is a Class A minor league affiliate of the Kansas City Royals, had the right idea: Hold a millennial night to get more fans from that age group into the ballpark on a Monday night. It’s just that the way they went about it wound up making the very customers they were going after rather … salty.
“Instead of Occupying Wall Street,” the team cheerily wrote in a news release. “Millennials are invited to Occupy Whitaker Bank Ballpark.” Okay, so far so good.
But things kind of went south after that. “Participation ribbons” were promised for those who showed up because, as the team explained ” … we know it’s a big feat to leave the safe confines of your home with Netflix beaconing you to stay on the couch, so the Legends are ready to congratulate fans on their accomplishment, even if they are still in sweatpants.”
The team also said that fans would be asked to sign a petition to make Avocado Toast the official food item of Kentucky — no, I’m not kidding. Naps were also being offered between innings (although blankets weren’t provided). Additionally, fans were encouraged to “bring their own coloring books and colored pencils in case the game is too stressful and they need to find an escape.”
Unfortunately for the Legends, many millennial fans were not amused. The promotion caused an online eruption of complaints and occasional hilarious comments, my favorite being from Jessica Ciezki, who tweeted: “Wow. I really hope no one got paid for that promotion. I’m sure boomer night will be a big hit too, first 10000 boomers to blame millennials for anything get a free hat and bowl of soup.”
Other comments, like the ones summarized here on this Kansas City Star post, were not as nice.
Making fun of your prospective customers is a tricky business. “We didn’t realize people would take it in a negative way,” Anne Mapson, the Legends’ special projects manager, told the Lexington Herald Leader. The millennial-aged staff members on her marketing and office team were the ones who came up with the idea, Mapson said, and they posed for a group selfie just to prove it.
“The other generations see these as stereotypes of millennials. We know this isn’t true, so we were going to poke fun at it,” Mapson said.
Although the promotion did receive a fair amount of media coverage, it still failed a basic marketing test: generating more revenue. Attendance at the game on Monday night was 2,931, which was about average.