The scorecard on a $200,000 baseball-themed promotion

How The News Tribune bundled promotions for advertisers and drove season-long engagement for Seattle Mariners fans


The News Tribune is a daily paper based in Tacoma, Wash. After seeing such tremendous success from their bundled football engagement campaign—a series of promotions that generated $126,000 in revenue—they knew they’d found something special with this strategy of combining multiple promotions and interactive content together.

With a big baseball fan base around the Seattle Mariners, they thought this could prove to be another successful campaign. They set three specific goals: reach baseball fans and their families, offer sponsors a unique opportunity for branding, and keep fans engaged throughout the entire seven-month baseball season. 

The next step was choosing the best campaigns to run over the seven-month season. They put together a six-part bundle including:

  • Fan infographics
  • Mother’s Day photo contest
  • Father’s Day art contest
  • Multiple quizzes
  • Great Grill Giveaway
  • Fan engagement survey

One thing that helps drive the success of The News Tribune’s sports campaigns is their use of a campaign landing page. This page functioned as a hub where users could find all content related to the baseball campaign. 

The paper offered two tiers of sponsorship: two exclusive co-presenting sponsorships and multiple supporting sponsorships. The two levels allowed for a bigger variety of advertisers to participate at a price they could afford.

Each advertiser was provided with tons of branding opportunities:

Inclusion in all marketing activities (email blasts, digital advertising, print advertising, etc.)

Logo featured at top and bottom of the contest page

Inclusion on all individual campaign pages

Inclusion on all printed materials (in-store handouts, posters, printed contest pages, onsite signage, and banners)

A custom advertising package for each sponsor to use for their own marketing activities, including a mix of prepared digital and print media

Every aspect of the bundle was carefully planned and executed. 

1. Fan Engagement Survey

The paper kicked off the season with a fan survey asking about twenty fun questions related to baseball. To encourage participation, they offered a prize of a $50 gift card to three lucky entrants. Plus, by collecting email at registration, they could email participants later to announce new aspects of our baseball campaign.

2. Fan Infographic

Next the paper turned the results of their survey into an infographic. This is a great additional opportunity for branding to offer to sponsors as infographics get shared all over social media. 

3. Mother’s Day Photo Contest

Additionally, The News Tribune decided to capitalize on holidays falling during the baseball season. And when it comes to Mother’s Day, nothing’s better than a photo contest.

Users could nominate their mom by posting a picture and caption explaining what makes their mom special. Winners received a dream day to the ballpark including four tickets to a Seattle Mariners game, a $200 gift card to the team shop, a $200 gift card to a local restaurant, and transportation to and from the stadium.

While the contest was promoted heavily on Instagram, email, website banner ads, and Facebook, after the contest ended, the paper also published a print ad announcing the winner. Sharing stories about the winners of the contests boosts the credibility of the paper and drives engagement for future campaigns. 

4. Father’s Day Art Contest

Baseball is a perfect theme for Father’s Day promotions. The paper reached out to their local minor league baseball team—the Tacoma Rainiers—with a sponsorship opportunity. The club was thrilled to be a part of it. To participate in the art contest, users would submit a coloring page with a write-up about a special father figure in their life.

The art contest was promoted in many avenues including an invitation email, website banner ads, and Facebook, as well as two on-site events in the stadium during games. Over 50% of entries were received through these on-site events. 

The three sets of winners each received four tickets to a luxury suite experience at a Rainiers game, a Rainiers gift pack, a personal visit from the mascot, $100 gift card to the team shop, and an on-field experience. The winners were then published in The News Tribune.

5. Baseball Quiz Bundle

While many of the other aspects of the baseball campaign had a more limited timeline, the paper created three baseball quizzes as long-running content for the contest page throughout the entire baseball season.

People love quizzes, and with all three of them being turnkey quizzes, they were a snap to put together with just a few simple customizations to feature the advertisers.

6. Ultimate Grill Giveaway Sweepstakes

Nothing says summer more than baseball and barbecue. The last aspect to their campaign was the Ultimate Grill Giveaway. The News Tribune recognized many of their previous top contests were sweepstakes, so they felt this would be a good final branding push to offer their sponsors. 

After everything was said and done, The News Tribune campaign resulted in $200,000 of revenue. It’s the most revenue the paper has ever generated from one single campaign. Plus, with all the engagement through the various campaigns, the advertisers are thrilled with their ROI from their sponsorship investment and already excited to partner for future contests, quizzes, and ballots. 

Matt Coen is president and co-founder of Second Street, a Saint Louis-based provider of private-label online promotions platforms for media companies