Be Sure to Drink your Ovaltine (and other sponsorship lessons from A Christmas Story)

About Drew Mitchell

Chief Revenue Officer at the Texas Legends

A crummy commercial?

A Christmas Story is one of my favorite classic holiday movies, an opinion likely shared by many of you given how it seems to run 24/7 on TBS during the Christmas season.

As my family gathers around the Christmas tree each year we laugh at the great story about Ralphie, a young boy growing up in the ’40’s who dreams of owning a Red Rider BB gun. One of my favorite quotes is a very well known part of the movie, when Ralphie learns an important lesson in life. After working hard to break a secret code that turned out to be a promotion for the product Ovaltine, Ralphie learned that many things we want in life aren’t always “free.”

How did Ralphie react when his “prize” for cracking the code is a commercial? In case you don’t know or forgot, here’s what happened.

Ralphie’s response is an important take away. How do fans react to a “Crummy Commercial” during a sporting event or live show? Pretty much the same way.

What do fans expect?

Fans pay top dollar from their discretionary income to enjoy an event live and in-person. They don’t expect commercial interruptions.

Sherry Cassidy, Vice President of Public Relations at InTouch Credit Union, echoes the philosophy of the Legends,

The goal  for our partnership with the Texas Legends is to maximize a fan’s experience at the game by providing additional games and entertainment, contests, & interaction with the players. They make fans  a part of the experience, not just a spectator. It’s important that there are a variety of activities going on during the game… such as the High Five Tunnel, and Fan of the Game, the bounce houses, etc.  Being a part of this experience, we create a fun-filled safe environment where parents feel comfortable letting children participate in the activities throughout the arena while they enjoy watching the game.”

Drive by passion


We produced a great season long promotion with FIAT to enhance fan experience and connect fans with a sponsor in a very positive way. A lucky fan received a FIAT 500 during the final home game of the season. Fans entered at each home game for the opportunity to be selected as a finalist to win the car. Fans waited in anticipation each game to see if they were selected as a finalist, keeping them engaged with the promotion and the sponsor during the course of the season. With each finalist invited back to the final home game, they lined up and tried their chance at winning the car. With about 4 finalists to go….we had a winner!

See the video of the giveaway and the fan engagement with the promotion:

You Make the Call!

The Legends also increased their fan experience on TV broadcasts through a social media platform allowing fans to make a play suggestion to the head coach. The coach then selects a minimum of one play per quarter with recognition to the fan whose who submitted the play.

Director of Broadcasting for the Legends, Kyle Judkins adds, “Fans have the opportunity to interact with our broadcast and have a real impact on the outcome of the game. This is such a powerful way to connect a fan with a sponsor with a positive association with the brand in an elevated experience.”

No Ralphie Moments

When a fan has a positive experience with a team they are likely to return more often. When they have a positive experience with a sponsor, they are more likely to try or adopt that brand. 

I’m sure we all have had situations where our fans felt like Ralphie. To avoid those in the future, the steps to build partnerships to mutually benefit the sponsor, team and fan are pretty simple:

  1. Remember activation means action. Try to find ways for fans to take action.
  2. Don’t disappoint fans (and sponsors) by running another “crummy commercial” during games.
  3. Develop a creative marketing program to enhance fan experience and engagement with both sponsor and team.
  4. Don’t shoot your eye out with a Red Rider BB Gun!


Print Friendly, PDF & Email