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Can Promotional Products Boost Sports Attendance?

I’m back to bring my self-proclaimed expertise about the sports industry and how it relates to our wonderful promotional industry. After my popular post a while back (sarcasm), I thought it would be good for my own safety to lay off the Bears/Packers rivalry. So, the focus of today’s post is how sports teams are using promotions and promotional products to survive. Yes, I said SURVIVE! The promo industry is a key to the survival of many different multi-million-dollar sports organizations in the National Football League, the National Basketball Association, and in Major League Baseball. How the hell can this be the case? I’ll lay it out pretty simply for you.

Sports Pennant

Would you be more likely to attend a game if you got a free sports pennant of your favorite team?

Our economy still sucks! Let’s admit it, no matter how much people try to bullshit us, things are still pretty bad. It’s going to be some time before we actually see all the improvements we want to see. What’s an industry that takes a MAJOR hit from this? The sports industry. This is because many will cut costs by foregoing sporting events—not buying tickets is an easy way to save money because it really isn’t a NEED for anyone no matter how much they argue it is. In general, the casual sports fan that needs to save money will cut costs from sporting events. Think about it: if you enjoy going to football games but your family is struggling to eat every night, then you’re not going to be able to pay for tickets to go to games. More and more people are just staying home to watch games instead of buying tickets. As a result, sports organizations are having trouble getting people to fill the seats for games, which means a MASSIVE loss of money.

What are sports organizations turning to in order to encourage people to plant their butts in the seats? This is where WE (QLP and the promotional product industry) come in! Sports industries have begun handing out promotional products and organizing crazy promotions to get people to come to the games. It’s becoming a pretty common practice to get a freebie with your favorite team’s logo on it (or sometimes co-branded with a local company’s logo) when you walk into a game. You almost can’t go to any type of professional game without being handed some sort of promotional product. For example, last winter I went to a basketball game and received a promotional calendar with not only the sports team logo on it and but also the logos of several local companies. Handing out free stuff is a way to bring people into a stadium or arena, to promote local businesses in addition to the teams, and to help sports teams to stay afloat in a horrible economy. People rarely turn down something if it’s free!

It feels good to be part of an industry that supports struggling organizations or businesses! But this point isn’t just limited to the sports industry; I just chose this topic because it is my area of expertise. People love free gifts no matter what, and it’s important to remember that in a lot of cases promotional products have become a savior for many companies and their brands. In a plagued economy, everything seems better when it’s free, even it’s something like a sports-themed pen. You would be surprised how many more people will head to a Cubs game when there is a promotion with free can cozies or mugs! SO KEEP PROMOTING YOUR BRAND AND KEEP HANDING OUT THE FREE STUFF!

Have you ever gone to a sporting event because they were giving away an awesome gift that night? What types of sports-related promo items have you received?

Image Credits


Bubba is the Quality Logo Products mascot. He may have started out as "just a stress ball," but he's come a long way since the company's launch in 2003. Bubba has been immortalized in numerous vector artwork designs for internal and external promotions, and you can see him change outfits on the Quality Logo Products homepage whenever a holiday rolls around. Oh, and he thinks pants are for the birds. You can connect with Bubba on


  1. Mr. Happy Pants

    Don’t most sports teams giveaway promo items at or during games regardless of the economy? I can’t recall a game in the last decade where the first XX,XXX fans who enter the stadium get a free something or other…

  2. QLP Jill

    I think the last sports event I went to was a Kane County Cougars game WAY back in the day…but I remember they always gave away free stuff. My shining moment was when I caught a baseball in the stands and got to keep it – and it had the Cougars logo on it. I was SO excited! Since I don’t really follow sports, I’d be much more likely to buy a ticket and go with a friend if they were giving something away.

    @Mr. Happy Pants – I think he’s saying that sports teams and organizations are doubling their efforts with giveaways in order to drive people into stadiums. There have been some wacky sports promotions lately, and I think it’s because attendance is down and they’re trying to get people pumped to attend again. Just a thought! 🙂

  3. Joe

    I’d say yes they have always been giving away promo items of some sort…

    However, with a struggling economy they rely more and more on promo items and have increased the amount of promo items drastically.

  4. Mr. Happy Pants

    @Jill, if that’s the case, then the Cleveland Browns should try giving something OTHER THAN the “game” away and maybe their attendance levels would improve.

    I give the TV networks credit, they always try to hide the empty stands at Browns games, but sooner or later, depending on where the action takes you – you are BOUND to catch a section that would normally seat 500 with only 15 or 20 fans!

  5. LK

    I went to NIU’s homecoming game last year and when walking into the stadium they gave out those inflated cheering sticks (I believe they’re called Thundersticks or Boom Boom Sticks). Since I had been tailgating all morning I thought they were the coolest things ever and hung on to them all night. Even though I won’t use them again, and they’re beginning to deflate.. they are STILL in the back of my trunk. (maybe its just because I need to clean out my trunk, but either way when I was at the game I thought they were awesome and now everytime I open my trunk I see them and the company’s logo who gave them out!)

  6. D-Rok

    I can’t say that I’ve ever gone to a sporting event because I heard they were giving away things necessarily. However, when you receive those free promotional items, it makes you happy and more inclined to go back again. I think one of the best promotional tactics the White Sox use that I can think of is fireworks. The nights where they feature a post-game fireworks show tend to draw a lot of fans. I know that’s not a promotional product, but it works. I have noticed some other people will go to games just to get a free giveaway such as a bobble-head doll of a certain player or other “collectors items.” Cool article, and it’s good to see you back again, bud.

  7. Scooby DOO!

    I love free stuff, don’t you? Promos at major events are feel good items. You know only so many were handed out, so you feel special and they are adorned by your home teams logo. GOOD STUFF!

    Some teams take it a step further by enticing you to buy something once you leave the game. For you BEARS fans, how many free bagels or breakfast sandwiches have you won from Bears wins or Hester run backs? Bears score, you win! Did you buy a drink or something else to go with that “free” snack? GOTCHA! That’s another great example of cross branding at its finest.

    Now would a free bagel get you back in the stadium, probably not, BUT the lure of what you might get from the next game MIGHT. However, If nothing else, the free gifts will bring you closer to your home team and psychology teaches us that closer you are to a team, the higher the propensity for you to purchase merchandise!

    Go Bears. Hopefully your O line shows up.

  8. QLP Kid

    I heard that there is one team in the NFL that does not give their fans anything… oh well they’re all cheese heads anyways… =)

    -QLP Kid

    “It’s how the Midwest was Won…”

  9. Winnie

    I want to post a quick hello and say thank you for this good article!

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