The List: 5 Philly Sports Promotion Fails
To get fans pumped for the upcoming season, the Philadelphia Flyers invited fans to the Wells Fargo Center today to … watch paint dry. The Facebook event encouraged people with nothing better to do on a Monday morning to bring cameras so they, too, could capture the Kodak moment of … paint drying and come home with a souvenir to remember that time they … watched paint dry.
Of course, this is not the first time the marketing department of a Philadelphia sports team has missed the net on a promotional event. Here’s a list of other “what were they thinking?” Philly sports promotions:
1. 1972: Philadelphia Phillies, “Kiteman”
For the opening day of the 1971 season, the Phillies’ backup catcher threw the first pitch out of a helicopter, so the team knew they had to top that for the opening day of the 1972 season. Team chairman Bill Giles decided to hire a man known for jumping off cliffs with a kite on his back to throw the first pitch, but when the players went on strike and pushed the start of the season back a week, the original “Kiteman” wasn’t able to do it. Scrambling to find another “Kiteman,” the Phillies hired a hardware store owner with experience flying kites in shows. Because obviously flying kites is basically the same as jumping off a cliff wearing a kite.
Shockingly, the replacement “Kiteman” was too scared to ski down then jump off the 140-foot ramp to deliver the ceremonial game ball to Mayor Frank Rizzo at home plate, even after his name was announced over the P.A. multiple times and the crowd of 38,000 Phillies fans started booing. The booing continued after “Kiteman” finally took a step off the ramp, was blown off the chute, and fell down rows of seats before crashing into the railing of the upper deck of the 500 Level. Though he miraculously survived the fall and managed to hold on to the ball, the poor guy tried to make up for the gaffe by throwing the ball to home plate, though he ended up throwing it into the Phillies’ bullpen located 400 feet from the diamond.
Perhaps starting a tradition of trying the same thing and expecting different results, the Phillies asked the same “Kiteman” to try the stunt again the next season — though he failed just as spectacularly. A second “Kiteman” was similarly unsuccessful. A third “Kiteman” in 1990, however, finally delivered the ball to home plate.
2. 2012, Philadelphia 76ers, National Constitution Center Prank
To bolster their home -court advantage for Game Four of the 2012 Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Sixers tried to intimidate the Boston Celtics by turning the National Constitution Center’s statues of Massachusetts delegates into Sixers fans. For a brief, glorious moment, the life-sized statues were decked out in Philadelphia 76ers jerseys, hats, pennants and foam fingers. Uh, good one, Sixers! That’ll show those Massholes who they’re working with!
Too bad the move didn’t throw the Celtics off their game, as the team ended up beating the 76ers and advancing to the Eastern Conference finals.
Maybe the Eagles would have better luck throwing some green on the defenseless statues. After all, those delegates were actual New England patriots.
3. 1979, Philadelphia Phillies, Saturday Night Special
The Bleacher Report named the maroon jerseys worn by the Phillies for one game on May 17, 1979, the ugliest MLB uniforms of all time. And the monochrome pajama uniforms were only worn once before the negative reaction prompted the Phillies to retire those alternate home uniforms forever!
As Bugs Bunny would say, “What a maroon!”
4. 2013, The IronPigs, Free Funeral Contest
Some sports teams offer free tickets or T-shirts. But did minor league baseball team the IronPigs make a, um, grave miscalculation earlier this summer when they announced a contest for a free $10,000 funeral or memorial package that required fans to submit a 200-word essay describing their ideal funeral and why they deserve it? No word on whether there’s an, ahem, expiration date for the lucky winner to cash in on the free casket, body removal and preparation, and funeral ceremony complete with hearse, headstone, and floral arrangement. The winner will be announced tomorrow for the team’s “Celebration of Life” night marking the home game against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
IronPigs General Manager Kurt Landes called the giveaway “the most highly-coveted ‘out-of-the-box’ promotion in IronPigs history,” but methinks someone in the marketing department was either out of their minds or out of ideas when they came up with this promotion.
5. 2012, The Philadelphia Eagles, Flight Night
The Philadelphia Eagles do not have a good history with “Flight Night,” that special time of year when parents pay 30 bucks (but kids get in free!) to watch a full-team practice mixed in with contests and prizes. In 2009, punter Sav Rocca punted a football into the stands and asked for the receiver to throw the ball back, but the fan — who apparently was no Donovan McNabb — ended up hitting another fan and breaking her wrist. Instead of suing the person who actually hit her, the injured woman ended up suing Rocca and the Eagles two years later for “permanent personal injuries.” Things weren’t much better in 2012, when one of the highlights of Flight Night was a laser show — because no one at Lincoln Financial Field got the memo that laser shows stopped being cool in the ’70s.
Not surprisingly, this year the Eagles cancelled Flight Night.