Having lost its sponsorship of the Milwaukee Brewers’ Famous Racing Sausages over the winter, Milwaukee-based Klement’s Sausage Co. is planning a special event to mark the start of the 2018 baseball season on Thursday.
Klement’s is hosting at a grill out event at a Milwaukee-area Pick ‘n Save store “to celebrate and thank its fans for the years of the good times at the ballpark.” The exact location of the event will be announced Thursday morning on WMIL-FM 106.1.
Thursday’s grill out event will include a free package of brats, a $20 Pick ‘n Save gift card and a Milwaukee Hometown Brat baseball t-shirt for the first 500 fans over the age of 18. The first 750 people who donate to the Milwaukee Rescue Mission at the event will also receive free brats.
“Nothing is more American than baseball and tailgating,” said Tom Danneker, Klement’s chief executive officer. “Tailgating and baseball are Milwaukee hometown traditions. We are excited to be the unofficial hometown brat of Milwaukee tailgaters – from the ballpark lot to the back yard. We continue to value our relationship with fans of America’s greatest pastime and look forward to continuing to serve them throughout the season.”
A press release announcing the event does not specifically mention the Brewers, Major League Baseball, Miller Park or even the term “Opening Day.” Instead, it is full of references to “America’s Pastime” and “the ballpark.”
Klement’s had been the sponsor of the racing sausages promotion at Brewers games for 25 years. Sheboygan Falls-based Johnsonville took over the sponsorship this winter with a new multi-year deal that Klement’s says it didn’t have a chance to match.
The Milwaukee-based sausage maker said when the switch was announced that moving on from the Brewers would allow it to engage with the community in new ways and Klement’s did announce a 10-year sponsorship deal with Summerfest last week. The company also knocked the Brewers for choosing a more national brand over a Milwaukee-based company, although Klement’s is owned by a California-based private equity group.
Johnsonville and Klement’s have also been engaged in a series of legal battles in recent years. Klement’s sued Johnsonville in 2015 over a trademark for the term Backyard Bratwurst. That case was settled with Johnsonville being blocked from using “Backyard Grilled Brat” or any similar term.
Less than a year after the trademark case was settled, Johnsonville sued Klement over the shape of its packaging, alleging it was too similar to a curved design it had developed. The case is still ongoing.