The Power of Irreverence
Chapter Six stresses the importance and power of being irreverent. In sports entertainment as in business and life, Veeck clearly shows how injecting humor and even cheap theatrics can have a very positive effect on your business….and how it is likely to generate some good natured free press along the way.
This chapter is loaded with sports examples fully connecting Veeck’s sense of humor with the sports promotions that have helped make him famous while building a successful business.
This is one of the chapters that makes the book so valuable to sports executives, since it is packed with examples. Veeck enlightens us on the origins of Duct Tape Night, the SPAMboni, Tonya Harding Mini-bat Night, and Voodoo Night….and the value in not taking yourself or your business too seriously. For non-sports executives, the author goes beyond the theatrics of post game fireworks and talks about how to build the right irreverent attitude in your office regardless of your business.
These irreverent promotions are often the ones that cut through the clutter and create memorable news-worthy promotions. While it may be challenging to get a big media hit for your next hat night, you may need to add some public relations capabilities when you plan something like “Enron Night.” Staged in Portland Oregon with the Portland Beavers, Enron night was a PR bonanza. Timed with the Enron scandal, the promotion included paper shredding stations and attendance figures that were repeatedly revised in the days following the game. (and the game was played in PGE Park, named for Portland General Electric ….which was owned by Enron). The promotion was a huge success, attracting fans and a significant media buzz. It also won an honorable mention in the incredibly prestigious Gameops.com Best Promotion Award in 2002.
Veeck may be at his versatile best in Chapter Seven as he shows the value of ideas in the Business of Laughter. Again showing the skills presented in the book go well beyond sports, Veeck gives dozens of businesses and punches out fun and joy-filled promotional concepts for each. Veeck arms his readers with the proper mind set to be creative.
During speaking engagements Veeck has been known to suggest that we laugh at the same things our audience will laugh at. He encourages you to be open to what makes you laugh and assume you have the same sense of humor your fans do. Of course that opens up the brainstorming process and limits objections to ideas….if the whole room is laughing at a promotion, he reasons your fans will to. Keeping an open mind to what makes you laugh leads to promotions like “Lawyer Appreciation Day” and “Vasectomy Night”….while you may have to have some limits on your promotions, its always easier to reign in a promotion than trying to sell a boring Hat Night promotion to your media partners.
Every Day is Opening Night
The third section of Veeck’s book takes the Veeck philosophy and applies it to your job, your work place and your employees, looking at maintaining the new atmosphere you have created. Veeck talks not only about knowing how to enact the change, cultivate it, changing jobs, and recreating yourself, but when it might be time to leave.
After five years with the Saint Paul Saints, Veeck’s vision and work had helped to create one of the most talked about franchises in all of sports. Every game was sold out. Success stories followed success stories. And after five years Veeck knew what he had to do ….leave. He walked away to find another challenge.
Companies who give employees new challenges, keeps them on edge and allows them to grow and learn are the most successful. Veeck asks the important question of himself and employees “Do I have 10 years experience or 1 year of experience repeated 10 times.” Included in this philosophy is encouraging employees to be ambitious and share their goals ….including what job they aspire to hold next.
This final section expands the Fun is Good philosophy into a longer term strategy for employers and employees.
Veeck’s Fun is Good is a must read for anyone who wants to enjoy their life’s work more and unleash the excitement of opening night or the passion of a championship game in their daily lives. While the book’s countless examples are a treasure chest for sports promotions executives, they also are clear and understandable examples of Veeck’s Fun is Good Philosophy for those outside of sports.
Thanks to Mike Veeck for pushing not only the “cheap theatrics” that made his father a legend, but continue to shape his career and the lives of sports fans and sports professionals alike.