Vlad Guerrero Jr. strikes a BiGS sponsorship deal

Who: Conagra Brands Canada (BiGS Seeds), with Harbinger and Per Se Brand Experience.

What: A two-year sponsorship agreement with Toronto Blue Jays slugger Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

When & Where: The partnership includes promotion on Guerrero’s Instagram page, as well as on the brand’s Canadian Facebook page.

Why: It’s about growing awareness of the BiGS brand, says Andrea Stodart, marketing director, snacks at Conagra, which acquired BiGS’ parent company, Thanasi Foods, in 2017.

Thanasi originally launched the BiGs brand in Canada in 2012, and Conagra has spent the past two years growing its distribution and working with retail partners to further establish its presence.

“As we continue to expand our footprint, we felt like now was the right time for a bigger activation,” says Stodart. “Since seeds are synonymous with baseball, what better partner to help drive further awareness of the brand in Canada”

How: The sponsorship builds on the longstanding affinity that big league ball players have for sunflower seeds. According to BiGs U.S. website, it’s not uncommon for some players to chew a bag of seeds every half-inning.

The sponsorship will see Guerrero promote the BiGS brand to his 707,000 Instagram followers, and there are also in-store displays with retail partners including Circle K in Ontario; Canadian Tire’s gas bar locations; Rabba Fine Foods, Real Canadian Superstore and Sobeys.

What’s the deal with ball players and sunflower seeds anyway? According to MentalFloss, players have been chewing sunflower seeds in the dugout since the 1950s, when players like Enos Slaughter and Stan Musial started chewing them as a substitute to chewing tobacco.

They didn’t really take off as the dugout snack of choice until Hall of Fame slugger Reggie Jackson began chewing them in the late 1960s. Other players followed his lead, to the point that Sports Illustrated ran a 1980 article entitled “The Seeds of Content.” The article quoted then St. Louis Cardinals pitching coach Claude Osteen calling it “the era of birdseed.”

It seems worth noting here Major League Baseball has banned spitting “including but not limited to saliva, sunflower seeds or peanut shells, or tobacco,” as part of the return-to-play protocols related to COVID-19.

And we quote: “BiGS is all about big, daring flavours that fans can get excited about. You can see this brought to life in Vlad’s bold personality and infectious energy, which is why he makes such a great partner.” —Andrea Stodart, marketing director, snacks, Conagra Brands Canada.

Chris Powell