Louisville Slugger has been around for a long, long time—129 years, to be exact. The company wants its young fans to know that it isn't stuck in the past,
"We embrace our history, we embrace our past, and we honor it," says Taylor Florence, social media and design manager at Hillerich & Bradsby,
Louisville Slugger's parent company. "We want to take all of that and look toward the future."
Slugger is looking to the future by asking up-and-coming baseball players to share what inspired them, and how they aim to inspire the players who will
come after. They're sharing those messages via self-taken photos, or "selfies," on Instagram and Twitter, as part of the "Leave Your Mark" campaign.
Florence couldn't share exact numbers but said hundreds of players are contributing each day.
A new way
Louisville Slugger did about a year of research to determine what today's baseball players really want from the company that makes their equipment.
"The baseball community is evolving," Florence says. "There are a lot more bat manufacturers and companies out there now than there used to be. We really
had to delve into what players are looking for now, what they need from us."
So Hillerich & Bradsby simply asked people at the tournaments it sponsors, people who visited its museums, and even employees at its company
gatherings. What it found was that people want to know how the equipment is advancing technically, via the hardness of the wood, what materials are being
Over the subsequent months, the brand worked with agency partner MePlusYou to develop "a useful, exciting, energetic brand" that mixes its long history
with a look to the future. That included a new logo.
"We hadn't changed our logo in over 33 years, so this was a really intensive process we didn't take lightly," Florence says.
The company launched its new website March 28 and unveiled that new logo March 31, opening day of Major League Baseball's regular season. On April 1, the
social media component of Leave Your Mark got going, as the brand started asking about how fans have been inspired.
Slugger is promoting the campaign through its Facebook page, but fans are submitting their photos
through Twitter and Instagram, for a few reasons, according to Florence. For one thing, young fans are
"drifting toward Instagram and Twitter," she says, and that's the main audience. On top of that, monitoring is made simple via the #LeaveYourMark hashtag.
That's important because there's a sweepstakes portion of the campaign. In the next week or so, someone will win an MLB Prime bat like the model used by
San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey, who was named the 2012 National League Most Valuable Player.
Slugger has posted detailed instructions on its website for people looking to participate. Fans print
out a PDF on which they write their messages. Then they take a photo of themselves holding up that message and post it online with the #leaveyourmark
hashtag and the @sluggernation handle.
Florence says she does all the monitoring herself, and that she tries to trumpet as much as she can.
"It's really exciting to see everyone putting their memories out there," she says. "I'm just trying to share as much as I can with everyone, retweeting to
Florence says she can't share the number of tweets that have come in, but a quick Twitter search for "#leaveyourmark" and "@sluggernation" reveals a long list of people sharing photos and short
messages about the people that have inspired them and how they plan to live their respective marks on baseball.
"We're not posting about it as heavily as we were that first week, and we're still getting tweets and Instagram posts every day," she says.
Florence adds that she hopes the hashtag will live on well past the bat giveaway, given how well the message that Slugger "wants to make players great" is
"We want to leave a mark on this game," she says. "We've been a part of it since the very beginning, and we still want to be a part of it."
Matt Wilson is a staff writer for Ragan.com.