Zonie: Short (for) Arizonian, these people invade local beach towns in California… causing traffic jams, and straight up annoying the population of the local town (Urban Dictionary)

We live in the desert, our lakes are just as parched as we are, and we help drive the tourism economy in California, yet they still think it’s allowable to insult us Arizonians with such a name.  

However, it is true; everyone resorts to the SoCal coast. The only thing you can do in the Phoenix metro area is… actually, I don’t even know how to finish that sentence.  I mean there’s good shopping in Scottsdale, golf courses, expensive cars, and resorts galore.  But college bound, I wanted to get out. I made the move to Norman, Oklahoma in August 2016, and nobody back home understands why I love it so much.

Culture shock: it’s a thing.  I was introduced to the frying of foods, grammatically incorrect ways to use “y’all” in a sentence (ex: Get y’alls stuff done so we can go.”), quite a friendlier population, and speed minimums on the highway. A sharp contrast to the juice bar craze, valley girl lingo, the “shoulders back and avoid eye contact” mindset,  and driving an acceptable 25 mph over the limit back home.  

It is even acceptable for me to walk in public here without makeup.

But I also got to ditch my job at a neighborhood juice bar (they really are EVERYWHERE) and intern part-time at Old Hat in Norman.

I have some advantages in the current marketing world: I am caught between the Millennials and Gen Z and I’m a college student.  In other words, I am a part of some of the most targeted audiences in marketing.  I can tell you why we think Snapchat is so great.  Why did I buy this brand instead of that?  Because my friend posted about how excited she was to get it.  Facebook ads don’t really do much for us, you know.  I can tell you that all of us would rather work for Wendy’s than McDonald’s because their twitter is goals (if you don’t know what that means, you’re behind and need to read this).  

I’ve been in the office part-time for a little over a semester, and I have a list of things I am determined to master:

  1. Relationship building. This field is so interconnected; everyone knows everyone.  It’s pretty intimidating coming from the outside.

  2. Every social media platform. Advertising on Snapchat and Facebook are completely different.  And those are just two platforms on the list.

  3. Being an adult working a real job. As much as the #adulting hashtag drives me crazy, “Being 18 and working with real adults” is definitely a skill I should be allowed to put on a resume.  I am currently sitting in a silent office where the staff is intensely creating posters and websites and videos or talking to big, exciting, important clients; I’m listening to “Nelly’s Best Songs of the 2000s” and writing this.

Plenty of the skills I learn at the office I already put to use with my journalism major. Communication is a big one. I am a lot more confident in establishing relationships and taking initiative - and not getting upset when my ideas are shut down (not that it happens frequently, I should note).  I get double the constructive criticism, so I grow that much more. And I get to take a class on the media on campus, then see the magic happen in the real marketing world.  It’s pretty great.

Old Hat and the University of Utah Athletics Marketing Department go way back. We're talking almost eight years. It's a special relationship that has grown from designing Football and Basketball tickets to having an On-Campus Designer and creating court projection videos. Grant Robertson, Associate Director of Athletics Marketing, has been the force behind some of the Utes coolest marketing projects, including the Men's Basketball Projection video the last couple of years.  

Grant had some issues answering the Spirit Animal question so Hannah and I took a quiz for him. Turns out, Grant's Spirit Animal is The Bear which apparently is emblematic of grounding forces and strength. Do what you will with that information, Grant. Actually, if we're talking Stock Market (see answers to Q.8 and Q.20) we recommend you sell, sell, sell!

1. NAME: Grant Robertson

2. OCCUPATION/TITLE: Associate Director of Athletics Marketing

3. HOMETOWN: Bartlett, IL

4. PREGAME RITUAL: I wouldn’t say I have a ritual as every game/meet/event is unique in its own perspective. More or less, I try to walk our staff through every game day element and promotion we touch. Otherwise, I love gum! It helps me stay talking for an extended period of time.

5. FAVORITE THING TO SNACK: Besides gum, probably nothing. I don’t snack often.

6. FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB: The Process! I love the grind of the week and all the little details that get you to the end product, i.e. the game production. Furthermore, when you work in a team environment, the process becomes more enjoyable and you get to share the successes with your team. No better feeling!

7. LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB: Probably the 10-15 emails you get each week from “perceived” fans around the country asking for a schedule card or poster. Most of the time these fans send mass emails to every Athletics Department in the continental US. I don’t mind it at first, but once you’re 6 months in and have sent hundreds, it's not as fun.

8. HIDDEN TALENTS/HOBBIES: Talents - None that I can think of that set me apart from the 99%. Hobbies – Basketball, Snowboarding, Buying & Selling Stocks, Reading.

9. ADVICE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF: Work hard at every little detail. People do notice, it takes time but your efforts will eventually be rewarded. Also, live in the moment! There’s a reason George Shaw quoted “Youth is wasted on the Young”.

10. YOUR GO-TO KARAOKE SONG: Hotel California

11. FAVORITE MOVIE: Jurassic World

12. FAVORITE TV SHOW: This is tough, it changes every year. I don’t watch a lot of TV but I would say all time favorite is Archer.

13. IF YOU WERE IN A BOY BAND WHAT WOULD IT BE CALLED: I wouldn’t be in a boy band, I literarily have zero musical talent.

14. FAVORITE PLACE TO EAT: Depends on where I am in the country. I live in Park City, Utah so I would say High West Distillery & Saloon

15. WHAT DO YOU ORDER THERE: An Old Fashioned & Salmon.

16. FAVORITE DISNEY PRINCESS: Elsa. Primarily because I have 3 nieces who love her and want to be her when they grow up. Easy choice.

17. WHAT’S YOUR SPIRIT ANIMAL: I’ll be honest, I have no idea what a Spirit Animal is or what it does. I am not the most spiritual guy, so I may have to plead the fifth on this.

18. WHAT’S THE STUPIDEST THING YOU’VE EVER DONE: Drive to St. Louis at 3 am when I was in undergrad with 3 buddies at SIUC. There wasn’t a clear reason to why we did this, but it was an eventful trip, to say the least. I believe spontaneity will drive you to do and try things you never thought were possible. It also humbles you.

19. WHAT’S THE LAST SHOW THAT YOU BINGE-WATCHED: My fiancé binged watched “Elementary.” I was in the room so I guess that counts.

20. IF YOU WEREN’T DOING THIS JOB WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING: Stock Broker. I love analytics and the stock market fascinates me.

Yes, today’s the day. You know, the day you were supposed to do that special thing for that special someone, but it’s very likely you forgot. So instead you’ll go buy a card, a gift or a flower (or maybe lots of flowers) after work and pretend that was the plan all along. It’s okay, we’ve all been there. I’m not here to shame you.

For me, Valentine’s Day has never been a very big deal. Maybe it should be, maybe I’m just not a romantic, or maybe I like to use the excuse that I love my wife as much every day, so Valentine’s Day shouldn’t be any different (that's a copout, I know). And as much as I'd like to express my undying love in the form of a dying bouquet of flowers, my wife agrees that buying her roses is a waste of money. 

Being that I work in the sports industry, and because of my cynical attitude toward Valentine's Day, I thought it would behoove me to find some positive collaborations between sports and love. And what better example is there than sports marriage proposals!? There's not one, I looked. After a comprehensive scouring of the internet, I was able to narrow down the top sports marriage proposals, either at a sporting event or by athletes themselves. I've picked the top five, although they're all winners in my book (it's a short book with lots of pictures).

Now, would I have ever considered proposing to my wife (Heather) at a sporting event? Heck no! Just getting her to a sporting event would've required more planning than a wedding itself (this is pretty indicative of Heather's enthusiasm for sports). And the chances of her saying yes after I got her there... pretty slim. I would've been that guy that got humiliated in front of a full arena. (Sorry about that, guy. You're probably just now getting over it and I had to bring it up again.)

But other than the clearly significant act of celebrating one's love by asking for a significant-other's hand in marriage while being surrounded by fanatic fans, bratwursts and beers, there's also a marketing element that comes into play with each of these marriage proposals. It's an opportunity that every sports team should be taking advantage of because every team has at least a few fans each year that would probably be willing to use a gameday experience to help pressure their significant-other into saying "Yes, I do". And that's the entire point of this blog.

I'll run down the short list of my top favorite marriage proposals, but I also want to point out why they're significant from a sports marketing point of view. Sure, people are making life-altering decisions, but what can you do as a sports marketer to capitalize on it? I mean, isn't that the very essence of Valentine's Day? Yes. Yes it is.

The first proposal comes from the San Francisco 49ers Levi's Stadium, which was the very first proposal at the new stadium- before the stadium was even completed. As far as stadium proposals go, this one was unique in that sense.

Marketing takeaway: Events like this are great PR, especially for something as impactful as a new stadium. It's not only showcasing more behind-the-scenes construction updates with photos, but the chances are your story will reach demographics beyond your typical fanbase. People everywhere are seeing how the 49ers created a special occasion for two of their biggest fans, and that connection leaves a strawberry-goodness taste in everyone's mouth. 

Here's another proposal that likely ended with a "yes", but it's a good example of making your sponsors part of the event.

Marketing takeaway: Sponsors love to see their names associated with positive events. Find ways to make their sponsorship meaningful. In this example, you not only have everyone at the Heat game seeing the logo, but also everyone following on social media. It's a great promotion that couldn't be more fitting with this particular sponsor.

 

Similar to the proposal above, except this one involved one of the Bulls dancers. It was a nice, positive half-time event that gave fans a glimpse into the personal lives of the Bulls organization.

Marketing takeaway: Let your fans experience moments with people from your organization. Fans love their teams, but they really like to feel they're a part of the team. No better way to do that than to get them involved in something like a marriage proposal for one of your own.

 

A little back story on this one, the guy is (or was in 2013) an assistant soccer coach at Fresno Pacific University. He set up the proposal plan with the women's soccer coach, as his then girlfriend was a senior on the women's soccer team. The acting wasn't great and the guy seemed to drag this one out a little too long, but kuddos for pulling this stunt off.

Marketing takeaway: In 2013 when this happened, the marketing buzz word was "viral". And this one had "viral" written all over it. With over 3 million views, I'd say it was a success. It shows how the power of the unexpected can spread like wildfire, and this video leaves a positive impression for most of the world that's never heard of FPU.

 

I'm not gonna lie, this one stings a little. But only because seconds before this proposal (which seemed to be on the top of everyone's sports proposals list), the Broncos had just beat my Sooners. It was an incredible game for anyone but a Sooners fan, and Ian Johnson ended it the right way. If he was uncertain that his cheerleader girlfriend might say yes to his proposal, there was no better time to ask her than right after he scored the game-winning 2-pt conversion. I just have to think for them as a couple, that was the highlight of their relationship together. Gonna be hard to top that during their lifetime together.

Marketing takeaway: This is what you call a freebee. You're riding the gravy train with buttered biscuit wheels. You did absolutely nothing to deserve such a fortuitous situation, but you will surely benefit from it as an organization. Live it up while you can.

So after digging into all this and providing some takeaways, I might not be quite as cynical as I had thought. Or maybe I'm slightly more convinced now that love and sports can work together in a meaningful way! I feel like the Grinch whose heart grew three sizes today!! Thank you, Valentine's Day!

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