‘College Colors Day’ Increases Fan Participation Throughout the Season

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The passion. The fanfare. The legions of fans absolutely losing their minds in excitement every Saturday from August through January. This is exactly the type of environment that IMG College Licensing was looking to capture to help welcome back the return of the college football season.

With “College Colors Day” celebrating its 14th anniversary, college football fans across the country have been able to express passion for their team in new and exciting ways. Nicole Armentrout, vice president of marketing for IMG College Licensing, explained the psyche of the fans who make the day such a success.

“‘College Colors Day’ is really like our Christmas for kicking off the season,” said Armentrout. “College football fans are some of the most passionate fans that you’ll ever see. Their excitement about giving everything they can to their team to help them really assists with promoting our campaign.”

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Armentrout noted different ways that the IMG College Licensing team worked with their premier properties in order to showcase fan engagement throughout the season.

“It’s up to us to develop tools for the institutions to work with. We tried to cover many different angles and capture the audience from multiple platforms. We wanted to give fans the feeling of truly being involved in their team’s success. This year we created videos for all of our schools that got them pumped up about their school’s colors.

“We really wanted to broadcast it out for fans to proudly display their school’s identity in a prideful way. We also teamed up with our Partner GIPHY to have videos developed featuring our school’s mascots dancing and proudly displaying their colors. We have had a relationship with GIPHY for a few years now, and the opportunity surrounding ‘College Colors Day’ stemmed from organic conversations between their team and our digital team.

“A number of school partners were excited to create content for this platform, and to provide a unique piece of content that feels shareable for their respective fan bases. This really helped to fuel the messaging with our ‘Unleash Your Colors’ campaign which gives fans an opportunity to display their reactions throughout the season. The campaign has been adopted very well by both larger and smaller licensing programs as we give all of our university partners a chance to express their true fandom.”

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The “Unleash Your Colors” campaign was noticeable on social media as graphics would highlight players basked in the color of their school. Simply put, IMG College Licensing team allowed the colors to speak for themselves.

The team’s key communication arose while working with its properties to create content that fans would be really excited about and be compelled to share.

The hard work paid off as this year the campaign saw more adoption of that content than ever before with over 12 million media impressions. From August 1 through September 3, over 40,000 posts populated across Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook referencing the holiday. Most of these posts contained the #CollegeColorsDay hashtag while also seeing the hashtag trending Top 5 on Twitter during the morning of “College Colors Day”, reaching as high as third nationally.

“This year has been very successful to the nature of the dynamic content we are helping to put out there,” said Armentrout. “Yes, we have static content but then we have the more engaging content such as the engaging videos that we collaborated on.”

With teams looking to embed this content into their everyday marketing, it is critical that IMG College Licensing and its schools work together to figure out which content performs the best on which platforms.

IMG College Licensing represents nearly 150 universities; the resources for “College Colors Day” was funneled through 50 of their top schools. To harken back to the theme of the campaign, Armentrout explained that while the size of the school aided in pushing the promotion, it truly boiled down to the fan’s own involvement.

“We truly saw that the most active colleges were the ones where the students took the lead of posting their own reactions to our content. And it’s not just the current students. The alumni bases were immensely successful in spreading word of the campaign. So a state like Texas is huge for us with Texas A&M being one of our top clients. Of course, the University of Alabama and the University of Michigan are definitely powerhouses.

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“We do have some schools like West Virginia that do amazingly well with the content and their rabid fan base. But you truly see the content take off and explode with nationally buzzed-about schools such as Penn State and Clemson. You do have challenges with some schools that say they can’t fit in content since they already have so much they are producing internally with everything going on. That’s why we prioritize the quality of the content we offer.”

With a successful campaign this season, Armentrout is always looking for ways to keep the fan engagement at this all-time high while also looking to grow more organic content generated by fans.

“The whole campaign has progressed and the ways that consumers want to connect with their favorite brands and we look at these schools as brands. It’s important to note that fans are already fans of these brands. We don’t have to convert them but we need to constantly be asking how do we try and change their behavior.

“We want them to increase their actions where they’re wanting to showcase and buy more gear and get more excited about their teams and the college football season. It’s really about delivering these kinds of content that are lined up with their upcoming matchup that will encourage fans to naturally share. We definitely don’t want to make it a situation where it’s some entity that’s forcing something down their throats.”

Moving forward, Armentrout sees fine-tuning and improving on content to be the key driver to the success of the “College Colors Day” campaign.

“To be able to be ahead of trends and just deliver the best ideas to our schools is the key objective moving forward. We are always striving for more participation. Having already had our content featured nationally on ‘The Today Show’ and ‘Fox and Friends’, we are constantly working to achieve more of that national exposure. To help bring out the best product, it’s all about overall better content, better value, and more participation.”