In case it’s not already abundantly clear — Target Corp. is a major sponsor for this year’s All-Star Game.
A slew of events are leading up to Tuesday night’s first pitch at Target Field, including the retailer’s All-Star Concert this weekend and “Target on the Plaza,” which will feature a beanbag toss and baseball-themed activities.
Target also is sponsoring a 4,800-square-foot pop-up store in the “fan activation” area at 700 1st Avenue N. from Sunday through Tuesday that will sell Major League Baseball merchandise. And of course, Bullseye the dog will make an appearance, with the mascot parading her way down Nicollet Mall before the game.
“With the All-Star Game being played here at Target Field, it’s a great way for Target to show its continued support of the Twin Cities community,” said Kristy Welker, a Target spokeswoman.
In March, Target announced its one-year sponsorship with MLB, and has since been planning and launching events to promote the Midsummer Classic, as well as its own initiatives. Celebrated former players such as Ernie Banks and Tony Oliva have made guest appearances at Target’s school library makeover events, bolstering the retailer’s philanthropic efforts in education. Target also plans to celebrate 30 teachers selected from its All-Star teachers campaign.
But ultimately, Target’s involvement in professional sports boils down to money and publicity. Corporations know they’ll make back every dollar they invest through sponsorships or ads. Such events also put their names out there for the world to see.
“They are not going to lose any money on this,” said Haim Mano, a marketing professor at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. “It’s worthwhile for them. People will see and recognize the brand. They develop a connection to it and become more emotionally attached.”
During the game, Target will run spots on the Fox network that will highlight the retailer’s back-to-school buy-one, give-one promotion on select school supplies.
And it has been selling All-Star Game-themed jerseys, shirts and hats in about 15 Target stores in the Twin Cities. Local shoppers who spend more than $50 on MLB merchandise at those stores through this Saturday will receive two passes to the T-Mobile All-Star FanFest.
“We have been hearing that it has been performing well — especially in the last few weeks,” Welker said of the MLB merchandise.
And on Monday, baseball greats Cal Ripken Jr. and Ozzie Smith will swing by Target Center where hundreds of Target employees will be assembling school-supply kits for children who can’t afford them.
Other events Target is sponsoring include a free movie night this Friday at Target Field Station where “Sandlot” and “Moneyball” will be screened. The retailer installed a bronze statue of Bullseye the dog at that location on Wednesday.
Some of MLB’s other corporate sponsors have their names attached to other events during the festivities. Those companies include Taco Bell, Budweiser, Nike, Pepsi and Gatorade.
Kavita Kumar • 612-673-4113