The Best Grilled Cheese In Sports

In honor of today’s celebration of #NationalGrilledCheeseDay, we thought it would be fun to look at which teams offer a grilled cheese item on their concessions menu.  The task was surprisingly challenging as grilled cheese apparently isn’t considered much of a ballpark staple, despite the current trend of creating eclectic food items at sports venues.  It should also be noted that we haven’t actually tried any of these, so the ranking is rather arbitrary.

That said, here are the top five best grilled cheese sandwiches in sports…

Honorable Mentions:

Montgomery Biscuits – “The Gump”

While the  Biscuits actually offer FOUR variations of grilled cheese sandwiches, our vote goes to “The Gump” which incorporates pork shoulder, BBQ sauce, coleslaw, “candied red onions” with pepper jack cheese to provide some zip on sourdough bread.

Chicago White Sox – “Avocado Bacon Grilled Cheese”

Thanks Night Train Veeck for the heads up…avocado and bacon added to a grilled cheese sandwich?  Sounds delicious!

Round Rock Express – “Grilled Cheese Dog”

What says baseball more than hot dogs, peanuts and cracker jacks?  While The Express’ unique spin on a grilled cheese might not contain the peanuts or cracker jacks, but it has successfully combined the hot dog with a traditional, down home comfort food.  According to Minor League Baseball’s website, the “Grilled Cheese Dog” is made with a quarter-pound of Nolan Ryan’s 100-percent hand-selected All Natural Grass Fed Beef wrapped in a grilled cheese sandwich then skewered.  A true Texas delight.

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Super Bowl 50 Student Competition Winner!

Congrats to Kirk Helferich’s sports marketing class at Kent Career & Technical Center in Grand Rapids for winning our POP display competition!

Students were tasked with developing a point of purchase display representing a consumer goods brand with a Super Bowl 50 theme. We received a number of really impressive ideas but the students at KCTC stole the show.

Here’s how the students tackled this project (pun intended) via Mr. Helferich:

They started trying to use resources in the room. I told them I could buy some pop, but not enough to make it look great. One of the students called Coke and a store had just returned a few football related signs. So I drove down and they threw in a few shirts for students. They made a SB trophy but thought it looked like a massive baked potato (see pic at end of video) so they kept searching. A few watched some videos on photoshop to learn background removal, and then they went crazy on finding backgrounds they liked. They impressed me with how they solved problems when conflict arose, and with teamwork. It was a great time for this project as things start to drag between Xmas break and spring break.

Way to go guys.  We are sending some prizes your way!

Super Bowl 50 #SportsBiz Recap

While the majority of football fans today will discuss the possibilities of Peyton Manning riding off into the sunset, favorite commercials and the halftime performances, marketers are busy analyzing the overall impact on brands.  So, which brands won the Super Bowl?  Here is a recap of what the experts are saying about the performance of advertisers, sponsors and social media campaigns…


Ad Winners & Losers

Adweek’s top 5 commercials from Super Bowl 50:

  1. Jeep
  2. T-Mobile
  3. Audi
  4. Heinz
  5. Doritos
AdWeek also examined which Super Bowl ads “resonated” with viewers.
Click here to see which spots created the most chatter.

USA Today’s “AdMeter” winners:

  1. Hyundai “First Date”
  2. Heinz “Weiner Stampede”
  3. Doritos “Ultrasound”
  4. Doritos “Dogs”
  5. Hyundai “Ryanville”
More from USA Today AdMeter…click here to see the voting for most underrated spots from Super Bowl 50, the top five worst ads and much more. tracked the “performance” of the Super Bowl commercials and offers a fantastic breakdown (and some cool graphics) of Sunday’s ads.  Click here to view the analysis as well as every single ad from the big game.

Super Bowl 50 by the Numbers

You just have to love the Super Bowl, especially if you teach sports marketing!  The “Big Game” creates such a fun environment for teaching some of the fundamental marketing principles that drive the business of sports and entertainment.

Looking for a current and relevant way to illustrate the concepts of supply and demand or economic impact? Need a discussion starter on the concept of ambush marketing or sponsorship?  How about advertising, ticket sales or merchandising?  Endorsement?  Promotion?  This look at the Super Bowl “by the numbers” has you covered.  Enjoy the “Big Game”!

$35 Million

According to, estimates put Cam Newton’s career endorsement earnings thus far at $35 million.  Newton’s endorsement portfolio includes brands like Under Armour, L’Oreal, Dannon, Beats By Dre and Carolinas Medical Center (among others).

$12 Million

Peyton Manning earned $12 million in endorsements last year alone.  According to Forbes, Manning was the NFL’s top pitchman in 2014 thanks to partnerships with companies like Buick, DirecTV, Gatorade, Nationwide and Papa John’s.

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“Super” Displays

Every year, sales of consumer goods like soda, snacks, pizza, chicken wings, avocados, beer and even televisions spike in the week leading up to the Super Bowl.  Not coincidentally, vendors work with supermarkets around the country and go all out to create elaborate point-of-purchase displays.  Here are a few classic examples of ways brands have demonstrated some creativity in an effort to capture some Super Bowl hype and connect with fans.

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One of the great advantages of social media is its ability to provide digital marketing professionals with a great vehicle for connecting with fans in unconventional ways.  Platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram give consumers a reason to celebrate just about anything. Take for instance “National Hat Day”, which was trending on Twitter with the hashtag #NationalHatDay last week.  So how were teams leveraging the hat day buzz to sell more gear and promote their brands?  Here is a quick rundown of some of the activity on Twitter…

Many teams spent the day having a little fun on Twitter to “celebrate” the #NationalHatDay:

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Evolution of the T-Shirt Toss

Fans love free stuff.  Especially t-shirts that are launched into the crowd.  That’s probably why a “t-shirt toss” has always been one of the most popular promos at sporting events.

However, at the Army vs. Navy college football Bowl game today, Army took things to a whole new level. Before we share that, however, let’s look at the evolution of the t-shirt toss promo.  Originally, we had your basic t-shirt “toss” where tees were thrown to the crowd.

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Holiday Kicks

Looks like a lot of holiday cheer this year as sneaker brands outfit some of their athletes with holiday themed kicks.  In fairness, a few of athletes appear to have gone rogue with their over the top ensembles (yes, you Odell Beckham Jr. and Cam Newton) but kind of fun either way to see them celebrating the holidays…

Odell Beckham Jr. and his Nike “Christmas” cleats

Cam Newton’s Under Armour cleats on game day

Kyrie Irving’s “Abominable Snowman” themed Nikes

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The Art of the Concert Poster…In Sports

The Columbus Blue Jackets have enjoyed a TON of buzz from a new initiative this year.  It looks like they enlisted the talents of graphic designer Anthony Zych (follow him on Twitter @anthonyzych) to create game-day prints promoting Blue Jackets games, each customized based on opponent.

They have been wildly popular among fans, many who apparently are disappointed they cannot purchase them as of yet.  They are, however, available as digital downloads for free.  Based on the reception Anthony’s designs thus far, one would expect the team to continue releasing the graphics. My guess is that Anthony’s services will soon be in high demand…my only question is, why isn’t every team doing this?

Here are a few of my personal favorites:

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Bobbleheads with a twist

Bobblehead promotions have been around for more than sixteen years but they won’t be going away anytime soon.  Giveaways featuring the quirky nodding dolls are still the most popular promotion among sports teams everywhere.  In fact, ESPN reported that the 2015 Major League Baseball season included a whopping 121 different bobble giveaways, ranging from a “talking” Harry Doyle (Bob Eucker’s character from the film ‘Major League’) to a Jonathan Lucroy doll with a green light saber in his hand on “Star Wars” night in Milwaukee.

Speaking of bobblehead dolls and Milwaukee, a “Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum” is slated to open in 2016 in the downtown area.  According to its website, it will be a “high-quality museum with the world’s largest collection of bobbleheads and will feature dozens of exhibits related to the history of bobbleheads, making of bobbleheads and much more.”

One of my favorite variations of the popular giveaway is a bobblehead that commemorates a specific moment.  One that captures a moment and pays tribute in a fun and unique way.  A great example is an upcoming promotion hosted by Georgia State University when the men’s basketball team will distribute bobbleheads that replicate the moment the team’s head coach fell off his chair during one of the more memorable moments of last season’s March Madness.  Promotions like these go above and beyond the traditional bobblehead by connecting a promotional item to an event that invokes memories and connects fans to the emotions they felt “in the moment.”

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