Move over, Cabbage Patch Kids. Make way, Beanie Babies. The Bobbleheads are muscling in.
The small, lifelike figurines with spring-mounted heads have become instant box office gold for sports teams as promotional devices. What's more, the statuettes have become a coveted ad vehicle, even for sponsors that typically do not attach their names to such items.
Case in point: Just days before the Los Angeles Dodgers were scheduled to give away 55,000 Tommy Lasorda Bobble heads on Opening Day, the team finalized a sponsorship deal with Boeing. Plans call for the aircraft maker's name to be stamped on the base of the units, which will be distributed gratis at this season's first game but unavailable after that.
Of course, the question lingers: Does Boeing really expect even one Dodger fan to rush out and buy a 747?
"It all about brand awareness and brand affinity," said marketing vice president Steve Avanessian, whose company, Bensussen Deutsch & Associates in Corona Del Mar, Calif., supplies the coveted Bobble heads. "This is a true sports collectible. Fans are going to remember who gave it to them. In this case, Boeing."