May the Fourth be with you, baseball fans!

Reds host Star Wars Weekend May 1-4

Trevor Bell is flanked by multiple Star Wars characters.

@Reds on Twitter

Trevor Bell is flanked by multiple Star Wars characters.

The Cincinnati Reds recently hosted a huge weekend series against the Milwaukee Brewers, spanning from May 1-4. Instead of making this series a normal one, though, the Reds marketing team decided to make this past weekend ‘Star Wars Weekend’.

Why this weekend, though? May 4th is Star Wars Day, where fans celebrate their love for the films. This is because “May the Fourth” sounds close to “May the Force”, and a common greeting for the day is “May the Fourth be with you.” Knowing this, the Reds planned their weekend games accordingly.

On Friday night, the team hosted their usual Fireworks Friday promotion after the game, but then played a Star Wars soundtrack along to the show. The Reds gave away t-shirts on Saturday, with Mr. Redlegs featured next to C-3PO, R2D2 and Chewbacca, all wearing Mr. Redlegs’ signature mustache. The team opened their gates early to accommodate the people who wanted a shirt. On Sunday, fans received posters, showing Mr. Red with lightsaber drawn next to Yoda and Darth Vader.

During the game, the Reds had movie trivia, and photo-shopped their player pictures in order to make them look like characters from the movies. Joey Votto was made to look like Obi Wan Kenobi. Jamie Ramsey, the Reds’ assistant director of media relations, created introductions which looked very close to the movie’s introductions.

Game 1    Game 2    Game 3    Game 4

Characters from the film were also on hand to interact with the crowds, and Darth Vader even threw out the first pitch on Friday night.

This is the biggest promotion the Reds have done in a while.

I’m racking my brain and I don’t recall such a weekend long promotion in the past.” says Lance McAlister, host of Sports Talk on 700 WLW and ESPN1530, both local radio stations.

“I thought it was a home run. Star Wars crosses so many ages. It connects with young, old, males, females. I thought the Reds did a great job promoting it and then executing it. Fans dressing up in Star Wars gear was a really cool touch. The t-shirts and posters were well done. I loved the scoreboard graphics of Reds players in Star Wars gear. Any Reds weekend that brings 100,000+ fans is doing something right,” he said.

The Reds had 32,759 on Friday, 38,243 on Saturday, and 32,953 on Sunday, bringing the weekend total to 103,955, which is almost unheard of for an early May series.

Michael Anderson, PR Director for the Cincinnati Reds, talked about the amount of preparation that went into this weekend.

“Beginning last fall, we began working directly with LucasFilms to get approval and rights to use the official STAR WARS™ logos, images, soundtrack for fireworks, etc. They also put us in contact with local STAR WARS™ costumed performers that were around the ballpark all weekend. Our fans really embraced the STAR WARS™ theme and the t-shirt and poster giveaways were very popular. And the fact that the promotion fell on the 4th of May (May the Fourth Be With You) added additional relevance. We are the only MLB team to program an entire three-game weekend series around STAR WARS™.”

When asked about future promotions like this, Anderson said, “We are very pleased with the success of the weekend and understand that STAR WARS™ is one of the most iconic pop culture franchises in American entertainment history. With that said, our fans come to the ballpark for baseball and fun, so we also want to make sure that all themes and promotions are relevant, timely and do not take away from the overall baseball experience.

We are the only MLB team to program an entire three-game weekend series around STAR WARS™.”

— Michael Anderson, PR Director for the Cincinnati Reds

Many minor league teams have done promotions like this in the past, but sometimes overdo it, with a few teams creating jerseys that look like costumes or characters from the movies. They aren’t able to do this promotion, though, on the same scale of the Reds.

The Cincinnati baseball club used their ability to promote the games to their advantage, and did the promotion bigger and better than ever done before. Both hard-core fanatics and casual watchers of Star Wars were able to enjoy the weekend. The Cincinnati Enquirer also created a cover for their sports page, connecting Star Wars characters to Reds players and personalities, with Darth Vader being Yadier Molina, the starting catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals.

The ballplayers also had fun with the promotion as well, taking pictures and cracking jokes with the characters. Star Wars Weekend may have also helped the Reds, who took three of four games from the Brewers to win the series.

The Cincinnati Reds made Star Wars Weekend into a huge success for their fans. The effort and time that the Reds marketing team put into this promotion was displayed very well. A series win by the Reds helped to make the games even better.