Lanctôt Ltée, the Canadian distributor of Louisville Slugger sports equipment, is promoting the new Z-3000 slow-pitch bat with “The Priceless Bat Competition,” an online batting contest where the user actually decides the price they’ll pay for the bat, based on how far they can hit a virtual ball.
By using a smartphone as a bat and a desktop computer as the diamond, players take swings at virtual pitches. The farther the batter hits the ball, the less they’ll end up paying for the Z-3000.
Lanctôt Ltée approached creative agency Taxi looking for an innovative marketing approach, said Darren Clarke, executive creative director at the agency. The site took six months to develop, and the most challenging part was making sure the accelerometer (the motion detector in smartphones) would sync up and work with the computer screen.
To make the game seem as lifelike as possible, Taxi did a live action shoot with an actual pitcher and batter, and Clarke said this type of execution is a first for both the brand and agency.
“We didn’t want this to feel like a game of Pacman. We wanted to make it feel like a live demo so there is some skill to it,” Clarke said. “There was already some anticipated demand for this bat and we wanted to figure out a way to get this bat into people’s hands before it was available. We wanted to come up with a fresh new way to get people excited about something and do this digitally to see if it could all live online. We hadn’t seen that before, where you could demo a product that wasn’t available yet.”
Visitors to ThePricelessBat.com are greeted by text that says “This is the new Z-3000. It doesn’t have a price yet. We want your swing to decide that. It’s simple: we’ll turn your phone into a bat and your computer screen into a field. The farther you hit the less you’ll pay. But you won’t be the only batter competing, so you’ll have to defend your price. Good luck.”
According to Clarke, the bat is targeted at both recreational and professional softball players, so the text was crafted to “play into the competitive mentality of these players.”
Once users log in, they receive codes for their phone and browser to sync up with their computer. A picture of a bat then appears on their smartphone screen, as if the user were holding an actual bat in their hands. When ready, batters get three chances to hit the ball as far as possible.
The game uses the best hit as the high score, and then provides batters with their price. Players are then invited to come back each day to protect their price – two people cannot share the same one. When the contest ends next month, users will be e-mailed a coupon from the distributor which can be redeemed in-store.
Taxi is promoting “The Priceless Bat” with display banners on targeted sites and online forums, along with in-store activation at sporting goods stores across Canada.
“The Priceless Bat Competition” launched two weeks ago and will run for six weeks. The Z-3000 bat is in stores now and retails for $299.99.