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Interview with Arizona Diamondbacks VP of Marketing and Analytics, Kenny Farrell

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With single game tickets going on sale this Monday the 24th, what better time to talk to the man in charge of getting them in fans’ hands?

San Diego Padres v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

As a fan, I wanted to know more about the Diamondbacks 2020 season promos, giveaways, and all the fun and exciting ways the D-backs plans to treat us during the upcoming season. So, I was happy to speak with Kenny Farrell, the team’s VP of Marketing and Analytics, who has been with the team since the inaugural season. Below is the Q&A, enjoy and do not hesitate to BUY, because these promos will be thicc.

What does being the VP of Marketing and Analytics for the D-backs entail?

It means that my main job is working to engage our fans, sell tickets to get fans out to a game, ensure a good time and that they want to come out to another game.

How long have you been in that role?

I’ve been in this role with the marketing for four years, I’ve been doing analytics for about 10, and I’ve been with the club for 22 (years). I started right out of college in the inaugural season.

Over the holidays, the team offered a $99 package which got you in to every home game through the end of May. But that was only available for a short time, so what do you recommend for fans wanting a good deal?

We have an 8 game mini-plan which can include opening day, it’s 8 games of your choice, I see the cheapest option on that comes out to $136.00. You can chose any games - the prices are different depending on the games you chose. You can choose the lower demand games to save a bit of money, or choose the more in demand games and pay a little bit more. The entry level price points are in an area we call baseline view which is the sidelines of the upper level, but you can also get that plan for lower level, bleachers, baseline, infield, dugout box whatever is your appetite for where you’d like to sit and can choose the flexibility of any 8 games during the season.

How have fans responded to this 8-game deal - this is not the first season this has been offered, so are you guys selling a lot of these plans?

We do a lot of these plans, they are the most popular mini plan that we have. We do have bigger plans that go up to 12 games, we have a 28 game plan that is also very, very popular that includes either every Saturday/Sunday game or every Tuesday/Friday game. But the 8 game mini-plan is the option for someone who just wants to make sure they get out to a little more than a game a month and be really flexible on how they choose it. Fans are really enjoying being able to pick their games.

If someone is interested in buying the 8, 12, or 28 game mini plan and they don’t have their own ticket rep like we do, (shout out to Steve Plante!), who should they contact or call - and can they buy online?

You can go online and request information and a ticket rep will be assigned to you. We like to assign a rep, right up front, because we want you to know that you have a contact to add on additional games, make swaps for games, or to explain any benefits that may come with the package. dbacks.com/tickets is a good way to start, or 602-462-4600 is our sales line.

I see the D-backs are utilizing the MLB Ballpark this season - at FanFest, did they require that app for admittance?

We did, that’s the 2nd time we required the Ballpark app, for the free ticket for entrance into FanFest.

I have used the app in the past and found it to be clunky or difficult from my experience, Has there been any improvement to the app and are fans getting on board with it?

Fans are definitely getting on board with it. People have converted to a mobile-style ticket, from something in your hands to something on your phone. People are getting used to not having a physical piece of paper in their hands. We are one of the top 5 teams in MLB in mobile ticket adoption so we are very proud of that.

From the app side we have a lot of new features, making the “find my tickets” process a lot easier for fans. But beyond that we also have seat upgrades, interactive game opportunities where you can accrue points and play along with game features while you are at the ballpark. It will have increased options for ordering food from the app that will be promoted this year, as well as purchasing 50/50 raffle tickets from within the app, both at Chase Field and from home.

One additional (feature) is parking. People do not always have cash in their pockets for parking - the ability to reserve and pay for parking will be an option through the app this year as well.

I see there are four bobbleheads this year. Can you talk about how the players are chosen and do they have the final say on the product?

It’s one of the most fun things we do - sometimes it’s tenure with the team, how they performed on the field, popularity with the fans which we measure to understand who our most popular players are. We had done a Ketel Marte in 2018 and not in 2019 which was his breakout year - so we maybe missed a little bit trying to predict that. So this year we are starting with a switch-hitting Ketel Marte bobblehead - he was notably hitting homers from both sides of the plate and we thought how cool would it be to mix it up and have half of them batting right and half of them left handed.

With Ketel specifically he has a lot of input on his bobbleheads. He is very into his uniform and his wristbands and his elbows, and we try and be very detailed and specific to try and make sure we get the details right on these things. For example the tattoos on his arms are going to match the actual tattoos on his arms. What’s his facial hair going to look like? We have a little bit of scruff on his face, a little bit of a goatee look, shorter hair, all the details and features and shoes, down to exactly what he wants.

On Opening Day the 1st 20,000 fans are going to get a clear plastic tote-bag, What was the reasoning behind the decision to only allow certain clear bags into the ballpark? Is this an ongoing trend with teams in MLB or were you finding potentially dangerous items being brought into the park?

Upfront, I am not the expert on the clear-bag policy, so I do not want to speak out of turn from someone who works specifically with the security side of the business. But ultimately, we have seen that kind of trend across sports and venues - it just makes sense in terms of security and fan safety. Safety and comfort is definitely a primary goal of ours for everyone who comes to Chase Field, whether it be profanity or disruptive behavior or what people may have in a bag. We want to make sure everyone feels comfortable and safe when they come to a game.

We have watched other venues and have seen how fans have reacted and it’s been great to see that fans can easily adjust their behavior. FanFest was the launch of the clear-bag policy and we saw that 90% of fans came with clear bags already. If you don’t have a clear bag yet we will have one ready for you on Opening Day as a special gift.

Star Wars Night is May 30th, and features a Christian “Sky” Walker bobblehead. How big is Star Wars Night and how has it grown since it first began?

It’s a little unprecedented in terms of what it can do to bring together different generations of fans and that’s what’s really cool about it. With films from the 1970’s all the way to 2019. It’s something that everyone knows, everyone seems to enjoy and lends itself well to creating a very fun night at the ballpark.

We have definitely seen the popularity grow and when we have a chance of having a guy named Walker, a Skywalker is a pretty good opportunity! Christian is the type of player that hasn’t yet proven to be a player like Ketel Marte on the field but we continue to see him grow. There are fans that like and appreciate what Christian has done on a daily basis. So to tie him to the Star Wars theme and give him his first bobble as a D-back seemed like a no-brainer and a good way to have a lot of fun that day.

Tell us about the pre-game bar crawl on March 28th. Last season was the first attempt at this and I read a lot of feedback that was somewhat negative. There were complaints about the lines and the amount of beer, so how does the team plan to do things differently this time around?

We agree with all the feedback you read and so we would not be doing it again if we were to roll out the exact same thing. We want to make it as easy as possible for the fans to have a system to check in, come into the park early, have options to get easy access to drinks - which was kind of the key problem we have last year, too many lines. We have more staff coming in, because last year one of the issues was difficulty in just distributing some of the sampling. So by streamlining that and moving those lines through that much more quickly, people can get small samples while also moving through a much broader concession area, where people can get access to a full-size drink. We think we can turn it into an event that fans will really enjoy and want to continue to come back to year after year.

It was a good first attempt and overall I think we learned a lot. We like there is something there for the fans to come out to the game early, having a chance to experience some different drinks and socialize at Chase Field and then staying for the game. We are pretty confident that the fans will have a better experience this year and we hope that fans will want to come out and enjoy the beer crawl.

From an outsider looking in, does it make more sense to offer the giveaways and promos during games when you think you will sell less tickets than games you know you will sell a lot of tickets? For example a Marlins game v Dodgers game. Which one makes more sense to hold a promo?

It’s probably both. I think we can find ways where promos make sense for any type of game situation. You will typically find we are still holding promos on the weekends and I think that is a good place. You can increase attendance by offering a promo item where you will likely find someone that will want to come out on a Saturday - especially Saturday afternoon - for an item. We take a lot of pride in the promo items: we want them to be something that our fans really, really want. With that, you often see fans coming out early and lines forming early. That’s tough to do on a Wednesday night: it’s a lot to ask our fans to get down to the ballpark by 430 to get in line for an item, so it’s not as likely to have success on a regular weekday.

We try and look where we can stack on an already good circumstance which is a Saturday night. But sometimes we look at a day like the 4th of July and we have recognized fans that day are looking for fireworks. I’ll give you an example. A few years ago we did a T-shirt giveaway on 4th of July and we found it kind of made the experience worse for fans. Because when you have kids and you want to stay for a half hour after the game to enjoy the fireworks, you don’t really need to get to the game 2 hours early.

It’s hard to do both: be a fan that wants to come early and one that wants to stay after the game for a fireworks show. So we thought it’s better to give fans more, than try to stack too much one day. So let’s put fireworks on one night and then a promo item on a different night. We try and find the right balance to make sure there is something fun going on almost every night.

I have heard a lot of positive feedback and interest in the Tribal Jersey on June 6th, and also the Father's Day Hawaiian shirt on June 21st. Which promo do you think the fans are most excited about this season and which one are you most excited about?

I think the Tribal Jersey is going to the most exciting one. I mentioned the pride we take in these items. We want this to be an item that doesn’t just feel like a freebie, we want people to wear these with pride and you will see them wear at games in the future. When we have had really good items, especially wearables, and you see the items like at FanFest on Saturday, you saw years of people wearing items we have given out. That’s when you know it’s working. So when we have created an item that’s unique that looks great and will wear great and is high quality - fans are definitely going to be all over the Tribal Jersey.

The Father’s Day Hawaiian shirt I think is perfect for that day. The previous Father’s Day shirt we did a couple of season’s ago, is I think one of the most re-worn giveaway I have ever seen our fans wear - along with the replica ‘98 jersey which is still very popular from a few years ago. Those are two of the top fan items.

I think we will have a lot of traction on our Graffiti cap, which is going to be on Saturday May 16th. It’s basically looks from one angle like a regular D-backs hat, but the under-bill has a custom drawing by a local artist which is a landscape of Phoenix. We feel like it’s something fans will want to get in line for.

Obviously the bobbles will all be very popular, I think I am most excited for the Ketel one, just because it’s something we have never really done, putting it out with multiple designs of the same bobble. We have him in two different jerseys as well as two different hitting positions and that's going to create a lot of excitement with people wanting to make sure they get both.

Having MadBum here and capitalizing on putting him on a bobblehead this year I think will be very popular this year as well. You have the chance of someone of his caliber coming in, a World Series Champion, MVP, and for us to be able to embrace him as a D-back this year and get him his own bobblehead is something we are very excited for.

Tell us about some of these post game concerts that are going on this season: Los Chicos del 512, The Selena Experience, Laberinto, and Cory Ashbury & Zach Williams.

We have found a niche with the Hispanic bands, we had a really good showing last year and in the past. So this year we are starting out with opening weekend with Los Chicos del 512. Obviously Selena’s music has lasted 25 years after her tragic death, and there is a huge fan base for her music. To bring that sound to Chase Field in concert will be really exciting.

You asked up front what we do from a marketing perspective. One of the things we do is bring new fans to the ballpark, that haven’t come out yet to a D-backs game. That’s one of our main goals. When we are looking at new fans, younger fans, with Laberinto they are an older band but they kind of span generations. So we have an opportunity to attract parents, grand-parents, and their children, all coming out to a game. That’s a great fit for us as well: generational appeal.

For the Faith and Family concert (Cory Ashbury & Zach Williams), that has been a really huge show for us that we put on annually, and continues to draw a really big crowd. From what we understand those two acts are very popular in the Faith and Family night genre, so we look to have a huge crowd after that game as well.

Everything on these promos can be found at dbacks.com/giveaways or if you are ready to buy, at dbacks.com/tickets

Anything you’d like to say before we wrap-up?

Single game tickets go on sale on Monday! Make sure to jump on and start to reserve your favorite games now. I appreciate what you guys at azsnakepit do - I appreciate your writing, your website and blog and everything you guys have out there. Keep up the good work, we are looking forward to a great 2020.