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Bobbleheads: A Promotional Product That Delivers Measurable ROI


Successful promotional products are all about developing brand affinity—an emotional connection made with a brand.  But calculating the ROI of using promotional products compared to other marketing tools or tactics often presents a challenge for brand management. For example, a statement like, “This creative giveaway resulted in this specific sales result,” is a calculation all too frequently unavailable.

Concluding our Promotional Products Work Week, I thought it would be fun to share one of my favorite items, the Bobblehead and this fun and creative item can have an enormous successful impact on your next promotion.  While bobbleheads in this segment are discussed with respect to sports and more directly baseball, these could be used in the corporate world just as easy.  Several companies have mascots, television personalities or senior management that could easily be identified and branded through the use of bobblehead.

Enter the mighty Bobblehead, or even better yet, the calculable ROI of the powerful resin figure.

Wall Street Journal article detailed the top 11 MLB bobblehead giveaways, and ROI (calculated as increased attendance) topped out with a startling increase of nearly 50 percent. Of the nearly 3 million bobbleheads that were given away at stadiums last year, none were more popular than the Ken Griffey Jr. character for the Seattle Mariners. Some 46,000 fans were hoping to get one of the only 20,000 made. Attendance was up over 48 percent for the Saturday giveaway as measured against previous Saturday games.

The modern bobble has been around for more than six decades, so they are definitely here to stay in one form or another.  Over the past few years in particular, their popularity has hit a high point that I don’t foresee diminishing anytime soon. Ball clubs are reporting fans lining up outside the ballpark hours before giveaway games to try and ensure they receive a bobble. Fans are so bobble-crazed that it’s not unusual for ball clubs to offer “guaranteed giveaway” programs so fans can secure their bobbleheads with the purchase of a ticket package. And finally, the emergence of social media has increased the overall excitement surrounding giveaways as ball clubs are leveraging networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine and others to create excitement around the bobblehead giveaways and encourage fan engagement. Major League Baseball reported an increase in bobblehead requests this year topping 1.7 million, up 200,000 from the previous year. Big business indeed.


So while being able to calculate a specific ROI for many promotional products is difficult, there are case studies and situations like this one that show, very clearly, how success can be measured. For Major League Baseball Clubs, that’s increased attendance, earlier ticket purchases and/or driving package ticket purchases and higher fan engagement online, which creates greater brand awareness and affinity—lots of good things that make promotional products a winning part of an integrated marketing strategy.