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Nodding and smiling, bobbleheads still reign as top minor league promotional giveaway
Bobbleheads were on display at baseball's trade show
Traditional baseball bobblehead dolls and some of their wackier cousins like the Tom Cruise bobble couch (right) will remain the top minor league promotional giveaway in 2007.
By Chuck King

ORLANDO – Those looking for the next big minor league promotion at the Major League Baseball Winter Meeting’s trade show left unsatisfied.

Minor league promotions officials combed the isles of trinkets and trophies looking for the next craze in giveaways. What they found is that the bobblehead doll is still king of the minor league promotional giveaway.

“The bobblehead created a craze that is hard to live up to,” said Match-Up Promotions vice president of sales Jeff Collins, who estimated that bobbleheads account for 20 percent of the company’s sales.

“Will there ever be another bobblehead or the next bobblehead? Yeah. Will it be this year? Probably not. Will it be next year? Probably not. That set a bar that will not be achieved for a long time.”

Instead of developing the next big giveaway, most vendors are concentrating on refining their bobbleheads. Early bobbleheads tended to be caricatures of players. The latest trend is realism.

Aside from price, the biggest selling point for many vendors is how lifelike their products have become. Bobblehead makers are trying everything from more realistic poses to more detailed faces and bodies.

“We’re just taking some of the old items and making them look new – changing them up, designing their hats a little differently, that kind of thing,” said David Slyby, marketing consultant for Associated Premium Corporation.

Some new items had potential to be solid minor league baseball promotions. There was a pen that had a team schedule that rolled back into the cap.

Foamworx is marketing colorful foam cutout visors that sport the face of a team’s mascot.

“There’s a lot of new things out there that are great supplements, but you really have to depend on your own creativity to get that perfect fit,” said Mike Bonasia, promotional director for the Greenville Drive.

Perhaps events in the coming months will inspire the next big minor league promotional giveaway. Just don’t bet on it. When the 2007 season starts, minor league baseball fans can expect a steady diet of Old Mr. Reliable.

“What it boils down to is that the bobblehead still works,” Slyby said. “It sells tickets. My thought on that is very simple. Not to over analyze it, the bobblehead is one of the few products in our industry that hits the age gap. Kids love it and adults love it. You can’t find another product that does that.”

Check out my blog for more on Minor League Baseball's winter meetings and bobblehead dolls.

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