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Indiana State Throws It Back With Celebration of 1979 Final Four Team

The athletic department has built a year-long celebration around the Larry Bird-led team.

Adam White

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(*Old Hat is a proud partner of Front Office Sports)

If you asked 10 people to point out Terre Haute, Indiana on a map, chances are maybe one of them would be able to do it.

Meanwhile, if you asked 10 people who Larry Bird is, chances are more than half would be able to tell you.  

Nestled in Terre Haute, Indiana State University was once home to Larry Bird and an improbable run to the NCAA Final Four.

Averaging nearly 30 points per game that season, his last at Indiana State, Bird helped lead the Sycamores to an undefeated season and a national title-game matchup versus a Magic Johnson-led Michigan State Spartans team. Although the Sycamores would fall to the Spartans, to date, they are the only team to advance that far in their first-ever NCAA appearance.

SEE MORE: How UK’s Football Digital Team Creates Content and Empowers Student-Athletes

Forty years later, the university and its athletic department are paying homage to the team through a season-long celebration aptly named “Forty Years Since March Went Mad.”

Working with Old Hat, the two came up a slogan, social media strategy, and logo. Throughout the season, the staff will republish game-by-game recaps — complete with box scores — through various social media outlets to “relive” the legendary season. This was an idea that came from Associate AD of Communications and Digital Content Ace Hunt, who received inspiration from Ari Fleischer, the former White House Press Secretary who “live tweets” what happened on 9/11 every year.

“I thought doing something similar for the ‘78’-79 team would be really cool, so over the course of the season, we will be ‘live tweeting’ that season by sharing the press releases, news articles, and photos from just about every day of that year.”

Given the time that has passed, Hunt and his student workers had to rely on some of his good friends who just happened to save everything from photos and magazine covers of Bird to game programs, newspaper clippings and ticket stubs.

While the department could have chosen just one game to honor the team, Hunt felt that not only should the celebration impact the players themselves, but their families and the community of Terre Haute, many of which include blue-collar workers who were “galvanized” by the team.

SEE MORE: Michigan Athletics Turns to Facebook to Drive New Donations

The department is also lucky in the fact that everyone from the team, including the head coach, is still alive and well.

“We’re going to take full advantage of it and really put on a celebration not only for them but for their families,” added Hunt. “They all have kids and grandkids, none of whom have seen those games because they weren’t alive. We want to put on a celebration for them that those guys really deserve.”

The celebration includes a game against Loyola, last year’s NCAA Cinderella story, that will feature a reunion of everyone from that team, including the coaching staff. For the game, the team will don throwback baby blue jerseys designed specifically for the anniversary by Under Armour.

Working with Old Hat, the goal around the project was to rekindle the memories of a team and a season that has become somewhat of an urban legend for those who didn’t grow up in that era.

Bringing the celebration full circle, Hunt is focused on taking advantage of having everyone together again in order to capture video content that will be able to live on to the 100th anniversary of the team, even if he and anyone on the team isn’t there to celebrate.

“The most important goal in this whole thing for us is to get some of the grainy footage from that year into HD format and to capture in-person interviews with the players. We want to actually have those guys on camera so regardless if it’s the 50th, 60th, 70th, or even 100th anniversary, people will have the chance to relive the season through their eyes.”  

(*Old Hat is a proud partner of Front Office Sports)

Adam is the Founder and CEO of Front Office Sports. A University of Miami Alum, Adam has worked for opendorse, the Fiesta Bowl, and the University of Miami Athletic Department. He can be reached at adam@frntofficesport.com.

Marketing

Natty Light’s Super Bowl Moment

This year, Natural Light is giving 70 individuals the chance to pay down their student loan debt as part of their campaign around the Super Bowl.

Adam White

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Photo via Natty Light

*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else. 

With the Super Bowl two weeks away, brands from most industries are looking to take advantage of the marketing opportunities surrounding the most-watched television broadcast in the U.S.

This year, Anheuser-Busch is going big for the big game. Part of their Super Bowl marketing blitz includes airing a local Natural Light Super Bowl ad in 5 of the top 10 cities hit hardest by student loan debt.

We caught up with Daniel Blake, Senior Director of Value Brands for Anheuser-Busch, to see why the brand decided to give away another $1,000,000 to help over 70 individuals pay down their student loan debt as well as how the campaign plays into the overall brand strategy for Natty Light.

On Natty’s Super Bowl approach…
“Super Bowl is a unique opportunity to talk to people, to engage with people. The Natural Light local SB spot is geared towards our core audience, students and graduates who are experiencing first-hand the gravity of student loan debt. Staying true to our fans is core to what Natty is as a brand, so it makes total sense that we talk to 21+ young adults about issues that impact their lives.”

On why sports are important to the brand…
“Sports are a big part of that, and we know from experience that our fans appreciate when we bring sports-related content and experiences into their daily lives. Our Race Resume program is the perfect example of this. In September 2018, Natural Light had the chance to create a paint scheme for Chris Buescher and the #37 car at the South Point 400 in Las Vegas. That paint scheme happened to be the resume and headshot of an aspiring motorsports journalist, Briar Starr. Briar won the contest we held to be featured on the car. It was a really innovative way to combine two topics that our fans are passionate about and it got a very positive response.”

Disruption is in Natty’s blood…
“We are always showing up in the places that are important to our fans. This will be the first of many sports moment where you’ll see Natty doing something fun and disruptive this year.”

*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else. 

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Inside the Revenue Generation and Marketing Frenzy of a Super Bowl

With kickoff just around the corner, let’s take a look at just how big of a deal (literally) the Super Bowl is from a business perspective.

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Photo via CBS

Every year, millions of Americans — and even more around the world — take time out of one particular Sunday to watch one of the most captivating, polarizing and moving spectacles in culture today: the Super Bowl.

Aside from the occasional Olympic Games or World Cup, it dominants the sports landscape around the world across all industries, too, from sports to entertainment to technology to finance. With kickoff just around the corner, let’s take a look at just how big of a deal (literally) the Super Bowl is from a business perspective.

Viewership

An estimated 103.4 million people watched last year’s Super Bowl on NBC. Consider, even though last year’s viewership was a seven-percent drop from the previous year’s broadcast (111.3 million), Super Bowl LII still ranks in the top 10 of the most-watched U.S. television broadcasts of all time.

During last year’s big game, NBC’s online viewership also averaged an additional two million fans throughout the course of the game on the NBC Sports app, NBCSports.com, and the Yahoo Sports app. With usually 180 countries broadcasting the game in 25 different languages, it has no shortage of a diverse audience.

TV Advertising Revenue

According to estimates by Kantar Media, NBC generated roughly $414 million in advertising revenue from last year’s game. In fact, NBC claimed that it had sold out of all the company’s Super Bowl commercial spots for last year’s installment.

Many viewers have grown accustomed to the Super Bowl being filled with dazzling commercials, often playing into the tongue-in-cheek humor that advertisers look to capitalize on with such a large, captivating audience.

READ MORE: How Music Will Play a Huge Role at the Super Bowl 

“For now, the Super Bowl is simply the biggest sports and entertainment event in the U.S.,” said sponsorship consultant Jim Andrews. “From an advertising standpoint, no other broadcast delivers the audience that the Super Bowl does. From a promotional perspective, there are few, if any, other platforms that can impact such a massive number of consumers. If you are a mass marketer that wants to reach the most people at one time, nothing else comes close.”

Last year’s broadcast contained a staggering 49-plus minutes of commercial time. In total, ads accounted for 22 percent of the total broadcast. There is a rhyme and reason, as NBC averaged over $5 million for every 30-second commercial spot that aired. To put this in perspective, since Super Bowl 36 in 2002, the average advertising cost has more than doubled over the last 16 years, rising nearly $1 million in the last four years alone.

Host City Economic Impact

Last year, over a 10-day period leading up to, and including, the Super Bowl, approximately $370 million in new net spending was generated throughout the Minneapolis area, where the Super Bowl and prior events were held.

The fanfare brought over 125,000 visitors to the city with 95 percent coming from outside Minnesota and six percent coming from outside the United States. Since 1988, Minnesota ranks fourth amongst Super Bowl host cities in terms of total gross economic impact. Much of the economic impact goes beyond the dollars and cents as fans travel from far and wide to take in the unique experience of this yearly spectacular event.

“One of the trends happening in the sports industry is a focus on connecting with fans and sponsors with unique content using experiential marketing,” said Adam Grossman, CEO of Block Six Analytics. “The audience has some of its best opportunities to see things in the game, halftime concert, television ads, and the social media conversation that it has never seen before. The ability for the echo of the Super Bowl content to reverberate throughout the entire year is critical and makes the event an essential annual sports experience.”

Social Media

Planning social strategy around the Super Bowl is a huge advantage that businesses have to hone their brand. Content and direct advertising of Super Bowl ad campaigns tend to see a massive uptick in content posts beginning in January and surging throughout the postseason leading into the Super Bowl.

As social media continues to grow, brands will continue to hone in on an ever-consuming online audience.

READ MORE: Why Winning Should No Longer Be a Strategy When It Comes to Driving Attendance

According to Nielsen, there were 170.7 million interactions between the three big social media platforms regarding last year’s Super Bowl throughout the day as the game was being played out. And with brands such as Pepsi, Doritos, Dodge, T-Mobile, and Tide showcasing ads that combined for over 136,000 mentions over the course of last year’s Super Bowl, it demonstrates the role social media plays in broadcasting exposure to ever-engaging fans.

Betting

During last year’s Super Bowl LII, a whopping $158-plus million was bet in Las Vegas’ sports books. This paced ahead Super Bowl LI betting intake of $138.4 million within Nevada sportsbooks. During last year’s big game, Americans were expected to dole out $4.76 billion in bets. Granted, only three percent was actually bet within Nevada sportsbooks. The other 97 percent with local bookmakers and overseas sportsbooks.

Yet this year, with multiple states legalizing sports gambling, the sheer betting numbers will continue to grow. 

Player Payouts

It definitely pays to win big.

New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton’s recent attempt to fire up his team at the start of the playoffs involved displaying a staggering amount of money in the locker room.

This large sum, which was to the tune of $225,000, was stacked with so many dollar bills, it echoed scenes found within a Hollywood movie (plus the Lombardi hardware accompanying the stack of cash wasn’t bad either). In actuality, the payout for going all the way in the postseason hovers closer to $201,000 per the NFL’s latest collective bargaining agreement.

But, it even pays to lose on the big stage. With playoff bonuses coming with each victory throughout the playoffs, Super Bowl losers ultimately do not walk away empty-handed. After last year’s Super Bowl LII loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, every New England Patriots player still walked away with a $56,000 check, bringing their total playoff earnings to a cool $135,000.

There is no denying that the Super Bowl presents a multitude of revenue generation and added value exposure opportunities for companies and brands. As the spectacle continues to evolve and grow, the business of football will continue to eclipse the conversation and the market.

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Marketing

Adidas Gets Creative With Latest Activation

Ahead of the Australian Open, Adidas and Parley for the Oceans teamed up to pull off an activation that made use of the iconic Bondi Icebergs Pool.

Adam White

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Image via Adidas and Parley

*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else. 

Ahead of the Australian Open, Adidas and Parley for the Oceans teamed up to pull off an activation that saw them turn the iconic Bondi Icebergs Pool in Sydney into a tennis court.

Taking some time out of the craziness that is the Australian Open, Bec Ballard, Senior Manager of Brand Activation for Adidas Pacific, gave us an inside look at how they pulled off the activation.

On the idea and location…
“We were looking for a way to bring to life the story of our Parley partnership whilst launching our first Parley tennis range to the world. We wanted to visually represent the beauty of the oceans, the threat they are currently facing, and the solution that adidas and Parley are working towards. We felt the backdrop of the iconic Bondi Beach, with the symbolic empty pool (that they empty every Thursday), and then the unveiling of our footwear and apparel range made from 100% marine ocean plastic, was a perfect way to tell this story.”

Tying it to more than just sales…
“The Parley partnership is incredibly important to the adidas brand globally, and it resonates strongly with our Australian consumers. Our Parley partnership and associated products aim to protect our oceans for generations to come. This purpose aligns strongly with the Australian beach culture.”

“As a brand, we have the core belief that ‘Through sport, we have the power to change lives’. Donating the tennis court to a primary school in Western Sydney really rounded out the activation. We wanted to give the court a purpose beyond the activation; encouraging kids to be active was the ideal solution.”

On making it happen…
“The activation itself had multiple layers of complexity. When dealing with a natural environment we had to allow for many uncontrollables: the tides, the swell, and the weather. We had to be incredibly well planned, and operate with a flexible mindset. The pool is drained weekly for cleaning, so we took the small window of opportunity while the pool was empty.”

“We were given access to the empty pool at 3 am, we had to clean it, build the court, install all the signage and be ready for the event at 9 am. We had waves crashing over the side, rain, and were working in the dark! The event kicked off at 9 am and concluded by 10 am. The court had been dismantled and removed from the bottom of the pool by 10:30 am. By mid-afternoon, the pool had been filled naturally by the ocean, and people were once again swimming laps.”

On measuring KPIs…
“From a PR perspective, it completely exceeded our expectations from both reach and messaging perspective. The reach of the event extended far beyond our shores, and the more pleasing element was the integration of the message. The message about the Parley partnership and product range was prominent in all media coverage, and the sentiment was overwhelmingly positive. The products are currently available for purchase at our on-site retail store at the Australian Open, Flagship Store in the Melbourne CBD near the event, eCom and the sell-through has been very strong. We are conducting brand health research which will also be a key element in the impact of the activation for the brand.”

*This piece first appeared in the Front Office Sports Newsletter. Subscribe today and get the news before anyone else. 

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