Perhaps there is no better test for the quality of a minor league promotion than the opinion of your children. After all, minor league baseball bills itself as family friendly entertainment, so my trio of 14-, 12- and 10-year-olds should provide a pretty good barometer as to whether a promotion is going to be a hit or not.
This test becomes even more relevant when discussing the Lehigh Valley IronPigs’ “Fortnite Day” promotion scheduled for this Sunday. Like just about every family household in America, ours has been invaded by Fortnite. My boys are obsessed with it. They play it whenever they are allowed; other times they seek out YouTube videos about playing it. I, on the other hand, am a Fortnite novice, knowing only that it does not appear violent and it somehow relates to the flossing dance I see kids doing everywhere—at the pool, grocery store, between pitches during Little League games.
So I turned to my boys to gauge their interest in the IronPigs’ Fortnite promotion, which includes the possibility of playing it on the team’s huge videoboard against actual professional gamers named Hectiic and FantasticalGamer and select IronPigs players. They smiled and nodded, acknowledging “cool” and “wow” as I filled them in on the details.
“Where is Lehigh Valley?” one asked in an optimistic tone after reading the team’s press release about the event. A quick Google map search revealed the bad news that we would not be making the journey from Raleigh to Allentown this weekend. (“What’s an IronPig?” was the follow-up response. But that’s a question for another day, when I have Brandiose sketches and diagrams handy.)
The promotion is the brainchild of IronPigs Vice President of Ticket Sales Brian DeAngelis, himself an avid Fortnite player who saw an opportunity to capitalize on the popularity of the game.
“I’ve seen several TV/Movie/Pop Culture MiLB Theme Nights take off in the past but I hadn’t seen anything as large as Fortnite,” DeAngelis wrote in an email. “Since we tailor our experience to families, I knew we had an opportunity to appeal to kids in the Lehigh Valley with a theme night they can relate to. You can already come to any IronPigs game and see kids Floss or Drop an L on another kid throughout Coca-Cola Park. While that may not be apparent to the average person, I knew these are all Fortnite themed dances and Emotes.
“Some of the in-game promotions were easy to tie in. Slurp Juice and Chug Jug drinks were the first idea. I followed it by purchasing 10,000 V-bucks to randomly give away during the game. By purchasing tickets through this link, you’re automatically entered to win. Next I planned to have Supply Drops land throughout the stadium during the game to keep the night as interactive as possible. Much like the game, the first person to find the supply drops, wins what is inside. On-field games will also be Fortnite themed throughout the IronPigs game.”
Let’s pause for a moment right here and call in my kids for a quick Fortnite translation. Slurp Juice and Chug Jugs, which the team will be selling at concession stands, “boosts your shield and your health,” one of my kids explained. The V-bucks being auctioned off are “the in-game currency you can use to buy anything,” he added. “You should get me the battle pass.” Uh-huh. Thanks for your help.
To help create a buzz for the event, the team enlisted the two professional gamers, including FantasticalGamer, an area resident with over 1 million YouTube subscribers. With the help of James Metsopulos, executive director of the Creator Alliance, the IronPigs will be able to livestream Fortnite at the ballpark beginning at 9 a.m. Sunday.
“We had an enormous response on Twitter when our fan Justin Fizer asked how many retweets were needed for him to play on our video board,” DeAngelis said. “I replied with 5,000 (knowing full well how conservative my request was based on Fortnite’s popularity). Within 24 hours, he had the 5,000 retweets needed, including one from the most popular Fortnite Streamer, Ninja. Our original video to promote the night now has over 65,000 views.”
Of course, avid Fortnite players are not limited to those sitting in the stands. Minor league players also love the game, as viral Fortnite videos featuring minor leaguers have proven. So, many IronPigs players were also eager to get in on the promotion, DeAngelis said.
“The IronPigs players can be found playing Fortnite in almost every free minute they have, so naturally there was a great response to the theme. We invited them to play with the pros in our pre-game event on Sunday and 4 players have already confirmed. You’ll be able to watch the pros, Pigs and fans through the IronPigs Facebook Live stream as well as FantasticalGamer’s regular channels.”