"We're fairly big baseball fans here, and we were pissed," says Mark Bozzini, president of Pete's Brewing Co.
The brewer got even with Salary Cap GreedStakes, its 21/2-month early-season promotion mocking baseball's financial bureaucracy. It did much more than help Mr. Bozzini let off steam: It helped double his flagship Pete's Wicked Ale brand's sales over 1994.
Created by Pete's promotion agency McCracken Brooks, Minneapolis, it offered consumers traditional merchandise prizes along with a grand slam: $10,000 one-year "salaries" to 18 winners who will remain, literally, on Pete's payroll through Labor Day this year.
"Maybe it's a cynical approach, but I think it's realistic," he says. "This is how people in the 21-to-29 age group view the world."
Consumers turned in 250,000 entries for the prize-twice the number expected. Pete's Wicked Ale sales doubled in 1995, to $65 million from $33 million in 1994. GreedStakes lifted Pete's sales 150% while it ran, he adds.
"Young baseball fans like ourselves thought this whole strike was a joke, and we were sending up the mockery that the owners and players had made of the game," says Mr. Bozzini, 37. "It was a social statement, but it was also an effective promotional idea."