The Royals and the Arts: A Winning Combination [Sponsored]
Baseball fans around the country might often wonder what makes the fans in Kansas City so loyal to the Royals.
Brad Zollars, Senior Director of Advertising & Marketing for the Royals, explains the uncommon allegiance of fans by suggesting “as part of the community, the Royals are an extension of civic pride.”
Far more than a sports franchise, the Royals are an integral component of life in Kansas City. Reaching back-to-back World Series and winning the Title in 2015 validated the loyalty of the team’s fans, but the Royals’ ties to the community aren’t based on wins and losses.
The organization’s investment in Kansas City includes an ongoing commitment to the Arts that enhances the quality of life for almost every resident of the Kansas City area.
Zollars recently outlined a few of the initiatives that are intended to “showcase the unique culture of Kansas City.” The efforts range from commissioning visual art projects to longstanding support of the live music scene.
The outreach programs aren’t purely altruistic. Zollars notes that the team’s beneficence has helped “the Royals skew slightly younger” than fans of most Major League Baseball teams. A portion of the enviable achievement derives from the musical performances at Ink Student Night that Zollars says “engage new baseball fans, enhance the stadium environment and bring in a younger demographic.”
Zollars notes that unsuspecting members of the audiences at the musical performances prior to Wednesday home games are “shocked by the quality of musical talent in Kansas City.” The Royals also sponsor cultural events like the Middle of the Map Fest and Boulevardia. Zollars says that it’s one of his organization’s “non-traditional ways of connecting our brand to younger fans.”
The street murals the Royals spearheaded in 2017 were another means by which Zollars says the Royals organization could “connect with and support the Arts and entrepreneurial spirit of Kansas City.”
The Royals gave six local artists free rein to interpret what “Raised Royal” meant to them. Zollars says that Phil Shafer, the artist who works as Sike, created a “mural that reflects his memory of growing up and watching the Royals with his dad.”
The Royals’ Instagram-able billboard campaigns have also created a stir. Fans lined up around the block in Westport in 2016 to have their photos taken under the “Salvy Splash” billboard that created the illusion that they were being doused by a giant 3D version of catcher Salvador Perez. Even the bobblehead giveaway promotions possess value that’s often overlooked. Noting that each item is hand-painted, Zollars says “they’re all individual works of art.”
Zollars and his staff haven’t forgotten to keep their eyes on the ball. He knows his department’s primary responsibility is to promote the product on the field, suggesting “our job as marketers is to shine a spotlight on the dynamic personalities of the players and to enhance the experience fans have in the ballpark.”
The genial nature of the Royals’ roster — Zollars notes that “these guys are just good people” — makes his job easier. Even though players like Alex Gordon and Perez are stars, Zollars insists “the city and fans are an integral part of the team and organization.”
The unpredictable nature of each season presents challenges capable of confounding even the most creative artist, but Zollars shares the philosophical perspective embraced by many diehard fans: “remembering what we’ve all been through together- it’s been magical.”