Comcast, Nick Play Ball With Phillies

Maybe the Philadelphia Phillies should consider adding Nickelodeon's SpongeBob Square-Pants to their roster.

Nick's top-rated cartoon character certainly lent some star power to a recent game at Philadelphia's Veterans Stadium.

Through Comcast MarketLink Philadelphia, the Major League Baseball club hosted a "SpongeBob SquarePants
Day" on Aug. 3, bringing along the costumed Nickelodeon character.

In conjunction with that promo tie-in, the Phillies made a significant local ad-sales buy on the Philadelphia interconnect, MTV Networks vice president of affiliate ad sales Jason Malamud said.

Comcast MarketLink Philadelphia vice president and general manager Jim Gallagher said last Thursday that the team spent $75,000 with the interconnect to promote the event, as well as other games this season.

Phillies officials could not be reached at press time.

Festivities included a children's contest, in which 10 winners got to sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" with Nick's superstar during the seventh-inning stretch. Those youngsters and their families also attended a "meet-and-greet" photo opportunity with SpongeBob in the Phillies' locker room.

The team also gave away about 15,000 "SpongeBob Rules" rally towels to children aged 14 and under, sponsored a pre-game block party and had the costumed character sing and dance to the song "YMCA" with the team mascot, the Phillie Phanatic, during the fifth inning.

Game attendance for the Phillies is typically about 15,000, but this promotion helped boost that to 24,000, Gallagher said, estimating the gate at roughly $180,000.

Promotion for the family-oriented festivities delivered an unusually strong bump in ticket sales for a team that hasn't been faring all that well in the National League standings.

After its Aug. 3 8-6 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Phils remained in the N.L. East cellar, 19.5 games behind the front-running Atlanta Braves.


That Phillies-Dodgers game was carried nationally by the Fox broadcast network. Although SpongeBob's seventh-inning song was not televised live, Malamud said the event partners got some added mileage when the network showed a tape of that event after the commercial break.

Interconnect sales and marketing manager Christina Katsapis said the Phillies told her that SpongeBob was the franchise's No. 1 kids-oriented promotion this season.