This past weekend, the Atlanta Braves owned social media after a man in a full-body suit brutally vanquished a cocky fan in a promotional race.
Video of the in-game stunt went viral, and the world asked where this all came from.
Think you can #BeatTheFreeze?
Good luck. pic.twitter.com/9SrKe7GcTA
— Atlanta Braves (@Braves) June 10, 2017
It started with a sponsorship from RaceTrac, a regional convenience store and gas station chain in the South that has been a Braves sponsor the past three seasons.
“They had come to us and said they wanted to get attention for their summer frozen drink,” said Adam Zimmerman, the Braves’ vice president of marketing. “And this is what we came up with.”
The stunt? Give a fan a big head start in a race around the warning track. Then have a speedster in a suit, dubbed “The Freeze,” try to beat the fan.
The Braves went and found a former track star named Nigel Talton, a member of their grounds crew, to play the part of “The Freeze.” Picking a fan is the easy part.
Friday’s race was the sixth of 27 that the company has contracted with the Braves, but Zimmerman says conversations to do more are in the works.
Social media was worth more than $220,000 in exposure to RaceTrac, thanks to the LED banner running during Friday’s race, said Eric Smallwood, president of Apex Marketing Group, which analyzes media value of sponsorship moments in sports. “The Freeze” body suit also includes a RaceTrac logo.
“We wanted to do something like this to allow our brand to shine,” said Ashleigh Womack, RaceTrac’s director of communications and partnerships. “But we never expected it to turn out like this.”
The next step is to see if all the attention leads to more foot traffic in stores, 80 of which are in the metro Atlanta area, and to see if people buy the frozen drinks called Numbskulls.
If the numbers and appetite are there, expect more to be done. RaceTrac isn’t some small brand. It happens to be one of Georgia’s largest private companies.
“Beating The Freeze” has happened just once, on the first night of the promotion. Victory is worth a $100 RaceTrac gift card. But with more and more people filming the promotion, a victory might just be the best opportunity in sports for an average Joe to secure bragging rights among his buddies.