The McCann Time Capsule: A 1963 Client Day at Yankee Stadium
Given how intertwined sporting events are today with corporate promotions, it’s hard to imagine a simpler time when there were any marketing “firsts” involving teams or stadiums. Yankee Stadium, which is once more in its history the site of post-season baseball, now even has a website area devoted to opportunities to use it as an event space for everything from trade shows, conferences, and holiday parties to marriage proposals, weddings, and even bar/bat mitzvahs. And corporate group outings to major sporting events are also now commonplace.
But back on Aug. 28, 1963, McCann was heavily involved in helping its Esso client celebrate what it said was “the first picnic ever held at Yankee Stadium before a ball game.” The occasion was “Esso Dealer Day,” in which 2,000 dealers and guests basically had the stadium to themselves before the scheduled game as part of the Esso-Yankee “Go with the Champs” promotion. They then got to watch the Yankees beat the Boston Red Sox 4-2. (Esso was a co-sponsor of the team’s game broadcasts.)
McCann New York handled the event’s program and details, including preparing the scripts used at the pre-game ceremonies. The Esso dealers heard speeches from sportscaster Mel Allen and Yankees manager Ralph Houk, as well as from client executives. Allen, who acted as emcee, presented a prize to the favorite player chosen by the dealers (Yogi Berra in 1963) and to the winner in the honorary bat boy contest. When Mickey Mantle was chosen as favorite player in the 1964 “Esso Dealer Day,” he also received an “Esso credit card good for a year’s supply of Esso Extra Gasoline.”
The Esso activities don’t seem to be McCann’s first tie-ins with the New York Yankees. In 1941 the agency worked with its Gruen watch client to have the Yankees and two of their farm teams, the Newark Bears and the Kansas City Blues, sign 5-year contracts to display clocks advertising Gruen watches in the ball parks.