What the Rally Squirrel Can Teach Us About Marketing

Everyone knows the phrase, “When life gives you lemons…make lemonade!” But, what if life gives you a rodent on the field at Busch Stadium during game four of the National League Division Series? Players and managers – take a deep breath. Everyone else – embrace the new, unofficial mascot of the St. Louis Cardinals, the Rally Squirrel. And print a couple thousand t-shirts while you’re at it.

In addition to the excitement of playoff season, the Rally Squirrel can actually offer business insights for marketers in every industry. Instead of ignoring its appearance, marketers turned the Rally Squirrel into the rallying cry of Cardinal fans nationwide. Moral of the story: ideas seldom fall into your lap (or run across a field, as the case may be). But when they do, seize the moment, recognize the possibilities and capitalize! If you don’t, someone else will.

Using Squirrels to Leverage Fan Support:

What began as an interruption in play has snowballed into a marketing phenomenon. Merchandisers have seized this opportunity to build excitement among fans and stakeholders during playoff season.

In addition to over 40,000 rally towels distributed for fans at tonight’s game, you can pick up your own Rally Squirrel stuffed toy or “Got Squirrel” t-shirt.

La Russa himself is even a Rally Squirrel fan, citing it as a reason to enjoy the playoffs despite the pressure. “I think it’s good. The fans are having fun,” he said. “This is not old-school, and I know I am in many ways, but I think there’s so much attention and pressure on the players that sometimes they don’t show their happiness.”

Using Squirrels to Do Good:

But beyond all the hype, the Rally Squirrel has become a mechanism for Anheuser-Busch’s newest philanthropic endeavor in the St. Louis community. AB provided a grant to the Cardinal Glennon Children’s Foundation to cover initial production costs for a line of Rally Squirrel-themed playoff memorabilia.  The Foundation created playing cards, t-shirts and hats – now being sold at the brewery and select St. Louis locations. All proceeds will benefit the SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center.

So if you see a squirrel downtown these days, please don’t call pest control. Try to wrangle it into a cardinals jersey instead (see image below).

No rodents in the vicinity? Keep your eyes peeled for your version of the Rally Squirrel and the business opportunities that follow.

  • Susan Zumwinkel

    Build-A-Bear Workshop is a great example of how to capitalize on an unexpected business opportunity.  They’re already sending out facebook posts for their new Rally Squirrel t-shirt.  Check out the following link.

    http://www.buildabear.com/shopping/productDetail.jsp?productId=prod10360126&categoryId;

  • Jessica Hartman

    At first I thought the Rally Squirrel was hilarious, but I’m already getting tired of it. I wonder if there will be any negative implications from using the Rally Squirrel as a marketing tool if people are already “over it.” Will the Rally Squirrel have any longevity, or could companies invest too much for something that may go out of style next week?

  • Julie Steininger

    Jessica, the Rally Squirrel has made it to the national stage—MLB at http://mlb.mlb.com/news/wall/article.jsp?content_id=25625222 and NYT at http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/07/sports/baseball/phillies-cardinals-who-needs-a-black-cat.htmljust to name a few. I love that the squirrel is engaged in social media, that entrepreneurs are using him to earn a buck and charities are using him to get a donated buck. I say we ride the Rally Squirrel trend until the cows come home! (Animal pun intended.)

  • Marissa Weaver

    I think if the Cardinals win it all, celebrating the rally squirrel will be remembered fondly. If not, it will go away as quick as it arrived.

    As a Cardinals fan, I hope to see it much longer! smile

  • Maggie Brandt

    Thanks for joining the conversation, Marissa! I think you’re right- Cardinals fans will remember the rally squirrel for years if it brings home a victory.

  • Anne

    When the news stations, KSDK and CBS began using an image my company created back in 2007, “Feed the Cardinals” (the squirrel in the cardinal costume seen above) in reference to the rally squirrel.  The demand for shirts with this image on it came pretty fast and demand was (is still right now) very strong.  My company, Arundale Products, we’re a small family St. Louis business that has manufactures squirrel-proof bird feeders and squirrel novelty items since 1975. We make shirts everyday, but this was totally new. It’s pretty amazing to see an image that we’ve seen everyday at the office have such an impact.  Sure, we hope Rally Squirrel is here to stay, we’re in the squirrel business after all.  Either way, it’s definitely been an exciting ride.