Reds Opening Day Parade & Festivities

Building a Tribe for Over 100 Years

Imagine that your best customers and prospects lined the streets of Cincinnati by the 1000’s to watch your company, employees and products strut by. Imagine that they were extremely excited to see you — they are waving flags, applauding — and consider that they have taken time off of work to celebrate you. They can’t wait to do it again next year and your business doesn’t pay any marketing dollars for it! This is not a fantasy.

Not a Fantasy
MondOpening Day Paradeay, April 4, 2016, is the 96th anniversary of Findlay Market Opening Day Parade launching a new season for the Cincinnati Reds. And the Reds don’t even pay for the parade! You won’t find it on a calendar in the Tri-State, but Opening Day is a holiday in Cincinnati. How did this happen?

A Geographical Advantage
In the 1880’s, Opening Day for the baseball season was no big deal. No sell-out crowds. No parades. No press coverage. The Cincinnati Reds were the most southern team at the time. Grounds keeping was in its infancy. Spring weather can be a mess and is worse the further north you go. So Cincinnati was a better bet for good field conditions on Opening Day than New York or Boston. It was a geographical advantage.

Competition Spurs Inventiveness
A second baseball league came into existence which spurred a promotional competition for fans and attendance. The adage is true, competition makes you better. By the 1900’s, the promotion had paid off as most of the Opening Day festivities that we enjoy today were already in place…sell-out crowds, dignitaries, first pitch celebrities and the pre-game parade.

Frank BancroftA Visionary – Frank Bancroft
The Red’s business manager, Frank Bancroft, saw the geographical advantage and Opening Day opportunity. His constant promoting garnered him the name “Father of Opening Day.”

Influencing the Early Tribe
Newspapers started to run cartoons with employees and students making up excuses why they needed the day off so they could secretly attend the game. One publication tried to incite fans to initiate a petition to claim a half-day holiday for Opening Day so both schools and businesses could shut down. A holiday mindset was formed that continues to this day.

Opening Day ParadeBirth of the Tribal Gathering
While the first pre-game parade was sponsored by the Reds organization in 1891, a group of Findlay Market business owners organized a new parade in 1930 that continues today. It is a combination of baseball love and promotion.

Lessons for Business Owners
What advantage do you have over your competition?
The geographical location of Cincinnati gave the Reds an advantage to have a home opener every year.

How can your competition make you better?
Without competition, Opening Day would not be what it is today.

Who is your internal promoter?
Are you the Frank Bancroft of your company? Are you filling this role very well? Would anyone call you the “Father/Mother of ___[insert your company event]__________.”

What seeds can you plant in your prospect’s mind?
Newspapers promoting excuses for taking the day off and making Opening Day a holiday helped build the Opening Day mindset. What story can you tell the media and your tribe to engage them at a deeper level or on an annual basis? Every year, I write about Super Bowl commercials…that’s my deeper point of engagement on an annual basis with my tribe.

Who are your tribal leaders in the market?
The Reds had the merchants of Findlay Market. Who are your ambassadors in the marketplace and how can you support them?

Final Thought
Do you have answers to these questions but aren’t sure how to make them work together? A strategy session may be just what is needed to unlock your promotional gold, like the Findlay Market Parade. I lead these sessions with a business owner and their executive team as we explore and uncover new opportunities for their company. For more information, contact or call 513-785-0815.

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