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Collector Craze Keeps Bob-Bob-Bobbing Along
Minneapolis Star Tribune - Staff Writer -  March 1, 2002
When the promotion crew at the Minneapolis Star Tribune went in search
of an effective consumer promotion to run during this summer's state fair,
they merely glanced out their office windows. Across the street, thousands
of Minnesota Twins fans lined up early in the morning outside the Metrodome
before four games this summer to ensure that they received commemorative
bobbleheads of retired Twins stars given away on each of those nights.
The Twins are one of dozens of franchises that have used bobblehead mania
to drive significant increases in ticket sales, albeit for only three
or four games a season.
But while plenty of teams have jumped on the bobblehead bandwagon, businesses
outside of the athletic world have been surprisingly slow to follow. The
Star Tribune was one of the first to do so, creating a bobblehead of sports
columnist Sid Hartman, a love-him-or-hate-him fixture at the newspaper
for more than four decades.
Kate Kelly, the Star Tribune's consumer promotions manager, says the
objective in creating the Hartman bobblehead was threefold: generate revenue
(they sold for $12.95), drive traffic to the newspaper's state fair booth,
and provide readers with a keepsake that will reinforce the Star Tribune
brand. "People sort of use us as the information booth at the fair.
We wanted to have something different that would give them another reason
to come and see us," Kelly says. The Hartman bobblehead was created
by Alexander Global Promotions of Bellevue, Wash., which is to bobbleheads
what Microsoft is to computer operating systems. President Malcolm Alexander
says he's not surprised by the business world's delayed response to the
bobblehead craze. "Nothing is ever created by the corporate world,"
he says. "The corporate market generally follows the sports world."
Besides the Star Tribune, Alexander has created bobbles - he has trademarked
the name Bobble Dobbles - for Russell Stover Candies and Pep Boys, as
well as one of country music star John Anderson that was commissioned
by the WE Fest music festival and used in radio station promotions. He
has signed an agreement to be the exclusive bobble supplier for Walt Disney
Company and is putting finishing touches on a set of Bobble Dobbles for
the Pixar movie "Monsters Inc." scheduled to be released at
Business is so good that Alexander hasn't had the time - or desire -
to create a catalog, and he intentionally has left his phone number off
of his Web site (www.alexanderglobal.com). "There is competition,
but there is a lot to be said for being first to the market and a leader
in the market," he says. "It's like having the Beanie Babies
instead of just a bean bag toy."
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