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Bobblehead Nodders as Promotional Products

By Joe Haley

When a sports team relies on grassroots marketing to attract fans, it's no wonder that it would go for the hottest premium gift of the moment to entice them to a game or two. That's exactly what soccer team the Philadelphia Kixx did on January 26 when it gave out 5,000 bobble-head dolls - one of the strongest fad revivals going - to kids 12 and under.

The gift night was sponsored by one of the most popular fast-food giants - Taco Bell. The doll itself was of the team's all-star goalie, Peter Pappas. Standing six inches tall, it featured Pappas in his home uniform with his left foot obscured by - gee, what a surprise! - a Taco Bell sign.

The bobble-head as a premium was a true first for the Kixx, but not for the league it plays in - the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL). Earlier in the year the Cleveland Crunch handed out 2,500 Hector Marino (one of its star players) dolls.

To further push the the appeal of the campaign, the Kixx marketed the evening as a chance for Philadelphia sports fans to own one in a series of bobble-headed local athlete dolls, notes Melissa Northrop, Kixx grassroots marketing manager. Pappas actually joined some pretty impressive company, including Philadelphia 76ers star and current NBA/MVP Allen Iverson; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback (and Pro Bowl-er) Donovan McNabb; Philadelphia Phillies manager Larry Bowa; and Philadelphia Flyers center, all star and Olympian Jeremy Roenick.

This most recent sport star bobble-head craze wasn't confined to the Philadelphia area. Nationwide, pro sports teams are molding mini-versions of their stars in resin, with spring-loaded heads.

The night of the Kixx giveaway, Philly fans didn't let loose with any of their infamous boos. Despite the team's losing effort that night, the promotion was a success. All 5,000 dolls were distributed, and attendance was one of the best for the season.

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COPYRIGHT © 2003 The Advertising Specialty Institute. All rights reserved.
Joe Haley

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