Ken Babby knows the importance of branding and marketing.
When Babby purchased the Akron Aeros in 2012, he soon changed the minor league baseball team’s name to the RubberDucks and implemented a family-friendly marketing plan that boosted attendance nearly 30 percent. So perhaps it shouldn’t have been a surprise when Babby – who purchased the Jacksonville Suns in 2015 – decided to change the team’s name a year later to the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp – a change that initially drew a strong negative reaction from fans.
Babby, however, has established a record for taking branding risks, and he shared some of what he’s learned recently with attendees at the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce’s annual membership meeting. Held March 9 at the Renaissance World Golf Village Resort in St. Augustine, the event offered chamber members a chance to learn more about Babby’s creative approach to building successful brands.
In addition to changing the Suns’ name, Babby has invested more than $1.8 million in upgrades to The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville. And as he did in Akron, he said he has focused on making a trip to see the Jumbo Shrimp an affordable family-friendly outing.
The former chief revenue officer and general manager of digital for The Washington Post, Babby, 36, is the youngest multi-team professional sports owner. In January 2016, he was named one of Sports Business Journal’s 2016 “Forty Under 40” recognizing excellence and innovation in sports business careers.