It's safe to say that fans attend the same sporting event for many different reasons. Some go strictly for the game itself. They grab a program upon entry to the stadium and intensely keep stats throughout. Some go for a more social experience. They may have no idea who's even playing that day, but it's a great environment to hang out with some buddies. If you're like me, you may go for a mix of reasons. I love the overall experience, while still paying attention to the game itself, but my absolute favorite part is everything in between. 

While growing up, my dad would take us to games, but he would make us get there TWO hours early. I don't know if he was worried about Dallas traffic or what, but sometimes we were there before the gates opened. As a young child, it seemed like we would have to wait FOR-EV-ER for anything to start happening...you know...players warming up, people filling the stands, seeing anything at all on the jumbotron. But, because of his compulsion to be early to absolutely everything, I learned to love what we call the "fan experience" parts of the game.

Nowadays, I find myself wanting to arrive to a game early enough to be sure I don't miss the pre-game activities. I love when it's lights out and the intro video plays. #goosebumps everytime. I love timeouts/in between plays to see what fun things will happen. Who will they show on the video board? What race can I "bet" against my friends and possibly win something (even if just pride)? Whose life will instantly change when they make that million dollar half court shot? 

My absolute favorite part of Texas Rangers games growing up was watching The Dot Race. What's so special about a red, green, and blue dot running in circles around a pixely baseball diamond on screen? No idea, but I loved it. The race takes place in the 6th inning or so, and around the 4th, they would hand out the coupons. Sitting through those two innings seemed to go in slow motion for me...gosh, I couldn't wait. And what was the winning prize? A bottle of OZARKA WATER! You'd think I could win a new car with how excited I was. 

So, why did I bring up the Dots? Because, while some sponsor elements or "fan experience" things may seem silly, people love them! And they want to interact. They want to dance crazy on the dance cam and become an internet sensation. They want to flex their muscles and lift their kid up like Simba in the Lion King. They want to brag to their friends that they picked the right hotdog or president to win the race. It's all part of the game. Live sports and fan entertainment have become so much more intertwined that it is more expected than an "extra" benefit to attending the game. Remember when the New York Knicks went silent? No one knew how to handle that. 

We want to help you first and foremost drive attendance to your events, but also give your fans the best experience possible. Sponsors are looking for more than a PA announcement and static logo these days. They want people to be talking about them long after they leave the game. Luckily, we have some ideas.

People love bobbleheads. Or, at least my mom does. She times her Rangers game attendance for the bobblehead giveaways. So, why not give away a bobblehead and also feature that on the video board for a shuffle game? Have you seen this?

We can shuffle other things as well. Recently, for the New Orleans Babycakes, we shuffled King Cakes behind their logo.

Speaking of races, we have something for that too. Design a Derby with your most beloved players/coaches, or even fans to get the crowd going wild. One of our all time favorites is this one we did for North Texas a few years ago. It featured the football coach at the time, and he even provided audio clips for us to use. We also had the play-by-play announcer, who just so happens to be a prominent sports radio guy in Dallas, provide some voice overs as well.  

 Okay, so what if you want to get people up and dancing? Who wouldn't want to dance after seeing something like this?

There's plenty more where that came from. Give us a shout if you have the next crazy "cam" idea or obscure object you want to see racing on your screen. Let's make it happen.

Everyone seems to be talking about Snapchat as the hot new social media platform. Actually, it really isn’t that new. Snapchat first made an appearance in 2011. Let’s put some perspective around that. Remember the hit song “Friday” by Rebecca Black? What about the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton? The final installment of Harry Potter was released. Yeah, Snapchat has been out that long! 

The platform has made some major strides the past year that have contributed to its growth. Here’s what you need to know about how Snapchat is growing up. 

1. Millennials and Gen Z have gotten on board.

If you want to connect with younger generations, Snapchat is where it’s at. The platform is basically a glorified emoji creator, so it really resonates with consumers who have embraced the emoji trend.

 

Millennials and Gen Z use the platform to communicate with their friends in fun creative photos. If your brand wants to reach users via Snapchat, keep that in mind. Snapchatters want to be entertained, not sold to. If you decide to add Snapchat to your marketing mix, do it with content that leans into the fun, quirky aspect of the platform.

2. It’s not permanent.

Snapchat deletes all content after a 24 hour period. With social media being so prominent, a lot of users try to keep their channels clean and concise. The fact that Snapchat does the work for them has contributed to the platform’s popularity.

As a marketer this can be confusing. How do you maintain a channel that doesn’t have content on it? They key with Snapchat is maintaining a consistent presence and voice. NASCAR is a brand that currently does this well. They have a staff member who controls their Snapchat and is constantly adding new content.

3. Geofilters.

Snapchat users love a fun, interactive geofilter because it’s a way of being in the moment in a particular location.

As a marketer you can log into the backend of Snapchat and draw a geofence around the area you want the geofilter to be placed. This gives marketers full control of the area in which the filter will be seen. You have to pay for geofilters, but they’re relatively inexpensive. Snapchat has adjusted its pricing to offer an annual plan that allows you to maintain a geofenced area and swap out your creative filter as often as you like.

4. Snapmap

If you have been hiding under a rock the past couple of weeks you might have missed Snapchats biggest update, the Snap Map. This new feature allows users to share their location on an interactive map.

Think of it as a way for users to find their friends and join in on their activities. Well, that is how Snapchat is selling it. With the initial launch there has been a lot of fear in “strangers” finding users. This is is not 100% verified because the map will only show your friends. So a random user will not be able to find you.

As a marketer this new feature doesn’t lend itself to you. There is no advertising you can do in this and we don’t see that happening anytime soon. What you as a marketer can do with this feature is see what hot events are happening around you. If you want to do some event marketing and be where a lot of users are, check the map and see the live hot spots. If a sporting event is happening you will see a red spot on the map, and if you click on that red spot you will start seeing snapstories. Don’t worry it doesn’t share Snapchat usernames, just the content you are sharing. This is your time to send staff to these locations to do some guerilla marketing.

Overall the platform is still focusing on the user and not marketers. That could change in the near future because Snapchat is now open to investors and with dropping numbers the platform will need to start pulling in more dollars. For now, enjoy the platform and don’t stress about being perfect with it.

The need for creative content has never been greater in the world of athletics than it is right now. From traditional media that have been around for years like posters, ads, ticket stock and billboards, to the newer forms of creative output like social media graphics, recruiting graphics and the beloved animated gifs, the new truth is this: you need designers. The problem is, many athletic organizations don't have experience hiring for that position. And they don't have creative directors that leading a team of designers that they can lean on to head that up. No, many times it falls to sports information directors, sport operations managers or marketing directors to hire for a skill set they do not possess. They know what to look for when hiring a coach. They know what to look for when hiring marketing assistants or sports info assistants. But hiring designers is tough. Hiring designers with an eye for sports is nearly impossible.

I've spent nearly two decades in athletics creative and for the past 14 years, I've hired or been a part of the hiring of a lot of designers, editors, animators and other creatives to help Old Hat develop top notch creative for the more than 150 sports organizations we've worked with. We have a process and we know what to look for (and not look for) when identifying talented individuals that know how to produce for sports. So here are some tips and tricks that can help you in your search for someone that can churn out all those social media graphics on signing day.

1. There's no "Eye" in Team - I've seen hundreds of portfolios and interviewed countless designers. Some of them are extremely talented. But an eye for design doesn't always equate to an eye for sports design. Sports design is a different animal and to succeed in this industry, you have to look at design a little bit differently. Most of the design world operates on a "less is more" philosophy. But I've always said that sports subscribes to the "more is more" design philosophy. So one thing to make sure you look for is someone that knows sports and has an eye for sports design. Some will have examples of that in their portfolio but for those that do not...

2. This is a test - No matter how talented they appear to be or how many examples of amazing sports projects they have in their portfolio, always send them a test project. Primarily, this shows me what they can do with a project from scratch. For all I know, their portfolio is full of ads they resized from another designer's template. So send them your logo, a few photos of your athletes, tell them what to create and see what they send back. You'd be surprised by how many designers that have amazing portfolios send back test projects that fall completely flat. If you get something amazing back from them, you're on the right track. But there are other things to keep in mind, like...

3. It's about more than talent  - Talent can get you far but the sports industry is a lot more fast-paced than most. Sometimes we have to produce things with quick turnaround. Actually, that happens more often than not. And great designers have a reputation for wanting to take their time to get it just right. You also want to know how well they follow instructions, how well the can stay on brand and what their attitude is like when you give them feedback. So as a part of your test project, make sure to give them basic instruction on the design, but specific instructions on content. You want to see how the operate with creative freedom but you also want to make sure they can follow instructions. Give them a specific deadline and if they don't meet it, mark them off the list (bonus points for sending it early). Then, if you really want to get a feel for 1) how they are to work with and 2) how much they want the job, send revisions.  At this point, you'll know if they have an eye for sports design, you'll know how good they are and you'll know how fast they are. What else do you need to know about them?

4. For love of the game - They might be good, they might be fast and they might have great attention to detail. But do they love sports? You're going to get a lot more out of them if they do. You want someone that gets excited by what they're doing for you. I always ask, "If you could get a job designing for any industry, what would it be?" or "What's the most fun design project you've ever worked on?" If their answer is that they want to work in the fashion industry or that their favorite design project was their cousin's wedding invitation, they're not for you. That's not to say that you can't get good work out of someone that doesn't love sports but if they're not passionate about what they do, the long hours, tight deadlines and coaches that change their minds 12 times are going to wear on them and their time with your organization will be short-lived. If you can find someone that has an eye for sports design, nails the test project, follows instructions, meets deadlines and absolutely loves sports... HIRE THEM. However, if you want to take it one step further, there's one more thing you can look for that will get you the holy grail of sports designers...

5. What color do they bleed? - This one is easy because you don't have to even ask them the question to find out the answer. Look at their resumé and see where they went to school. If they attended the some other institution, that's fine. They're probably worth hiring anyway. But if they list your school as their alma mater, that's one more mark in the W column for them because I can assure you that they'll pour themselves into their jobs even more if they have a pride in the organization they're working for. This doesn't work, of course, if you're hiring for a professional organization. But you can solve this simply by asking who their favorite teams are. Or simply look at where they're from. If you're hiring for the Pittsburgh Steelers and your candidate grew up in Dallas, they might not have the passion for the Steelers you want them to have. But if you find someone that meets all the criteria for a great sports designer and they went to your school or grew up in your town, you have a winner.

 

We Hire, Train and Consult

One thing to keep in mind is that if you still don't feel comfortable facilitating the hiring process, or if you'd like to have someone to train that individual prior to them taking their seat within your organization, is that Old Hat offers creative staffing services as a part of our mission to help sports organizations drive attendance to their events. We believe strongly that great creative can help fill the stands and we want to help organizations achieve that goal in every way possible. Therefore, we developed a program where we serve as your proxy to hire your creative staff. Here's how it works:

1. We Identify Candidates - We tap our network of sports designers we know from coast-to-coast to see who may be interested in a job in your organization. We also post the job on multiple creative job boards to get as large a pool as possible that are interested in working for you.

2. We Test Them - Over many years we have developed a number of test projects depending upon the job description and we put the candidates through the rigors to figure out who best meets the requirements. 

3. We Interview - We narrow the pool based on talent and we interview them to see who would be the best fit.

4. We Recommend - Based on our tests and interviews, we submit a list of qualified candidates to you. You are the final decision maker on who gets the job.

5. We Train - As a part of our program, we bring your new staff member to Old Hat HQ to spend 2-4 weeks training under our design staff. We put them through a crash course in file management, project management, how to field requests, design tips and tricks, photography, motion graphics and more to make sure they are ready to roll when they begin working for you.

6. We Consult - The hardest part about being a designer in a sports organization is that often times, you're on an island. You're not surrounded by other creatives that you can learn from, bounce ideas off of, etc. It's a lonely gig. Old Hat solves this by being on retainer to answer questions, provide input and allow your designer to submit their ideas for feedback. 

If you're interested in finding out more about our creative hiring services, download this PDF, email me at zac@oldhatcreative.com or call (405) 310-2133 x118.

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