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.
January has already come and gone! Can you believe it? As we finish up materials for spring sports it means that football season is RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER! The past couple of weeks conferences have released their schedules and I can already feel the excitement for the 2017 season. If you start planning ahead there might be some special things you can do to create even cooler materials for your fans!
Haven’t set the budget for 2017 season yet? Put some extra money in your budget for your football poster and we can do some special printing techniques. You can do a cool die cut, make your poster shine, or even give it a funky texture. Not sure if your printer can handle any of that—contact one of our client reps and we can get you a quote from a TRUSTED printer!
Now that Instagram has stories and Snapchat is one of the leading apps for the kids, you can promote your games, schedules, athletes and fans in a multitude of creative ways. Start thinking about different utilizations of those features to get information in front of your fans.
Tickets are often the first project we do for football season, but maybe it's early and you don’t have a concept or direction you want to go? Don’t worry! We can help! Think about using past athletes on tickets if you don’t know who is going to be a star yet. Or just let us feature your brand and opponents and we’ll come up with something stellar. Tickets are another great piece you can use specialty printing on.
If you have a spring game coming up and the temperature is hot in your city think of a different type of item to use to promote the upcoming season. Maybe a fan? Anything YOU can think of WE can design.
Billboards can be used very creatively. They can have extensions or holes in them to create a larger-than-life message. Think about a crazy way to get drivers' attentions and promote your brand!
Start planning and budgeting for football now and let us help you create some incredible materials for 2017! Email us if you need anything!
Old Hat and Jason Dennard, Florida State Associate AD for Marketing and New Revenue, have been in a pretty, pretty, pretty serious relationship for nearly 13 years. During that time we've had the tremendous opportunity to work with Jason and his crew on some very cool work. Jason is an easy-going, trusting guy who gives us a creative license on a lot of important projects. Designing a poster for the Noles is sort of a rite of passage here at OH. When Jason asks us to come up with something cool he means it. It's a quality we really value. Now, we don't have the very first OH-Noles basketball poster designed by ZAC, yes Zac, but he remembers the shiny UV coating on it fondly.
Here's the latest basketball poster we designed for Florida State:
Not everybody at OH has met Jason in real life, but after reading his answers to our 20 Questions several folks here are confident they'd be best friends with the pride of Perry, Georgia: Jason Dennard.
1. NAME: Jason Dennard
2. OCCUPATION/TITLE: Associate AD for Marketing and New Revenue
3. HOMETOWN: Perry, Georgia
4. PREGAME RITUAL: I always go to the gym and workout the morning of football games. It sets the tone for the day (pun intended).
5. FAVORITE THING TO SNACK ON: Big fan of yogurt and granola but my weakness is chocolate in all forms.
6. FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB: Breaking barriers and accomplishing things when critics say it can’t be done.
7. LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB: Too many meetings too little time. If I could clone myself that would be great!
8. HIDDEN TALENTS/HOBBIES: I have a slight obsession with grilling and being a weekend pit master in my spare time.
9. ADVICE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF: Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Stop along the way and make sure to enjoy the journey.
10. YOUR GO-TO KARAOKE SONG: I’ve got two……The Humpty Dance by Digital Underground and being from the south you have to sing some Skynyrd, Sweet Home Alabama.
11. FAVORITE MOVIE: Planes, Trains & Automobiles.
12. FAVORITE TV SHOW: Seinfeld.
13. IF YOU WERE IN A BOY BAND WHAT WOULD IT BE CALLED: The Dad Bods.
14. FAVORITE PLACE TO EAT: I am a serial visitor at Newks a couple of times per week.
15. WHAT DO YOU ORDER THERE: Cobb Salad no tomatoes and Splenda Sweet Tea.
16. FAVORITE DISNEY PRINCESS: Princess Leia *RIP (Disney owns Star Wars right?)
17. WHAT’S YOUR SPIRIT ANIMAL: I’d say my dog Molly (King Charles Cavalier). That dog has never had a bad day!
18. WHAT’S THE STUPIDEST THING YOU’VE EVER DONE: Entered a bodybuilding contest on a dare and actually went through with it to the shock of my parents, friends…..pretty much anyone that ever knew me. Turned out to be one of the best things I have ever done and eliminated "fear" from my vocabulary.
19. WHAT’S THE LAST SHOW THAT YOU BINGE-WATCHED: Hmm….I would say Curb Your Enthusiasm. Larry David is awesome.
20. IF YOU WEREN’T DOING THIS JOB WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING: I love music and have discovered a passion for putting on concerts. This is something I do on the side currently.
Yesterday, it was announced that the San Diego Chargers of the NFL are moving to Los Angeles. Yay, so what’s the big deal? Is it that Los Angeles went from zero to two NFL teams real quick? No. Is it that they will be sharing a stadium with the Los Angeles Rams? No. Is it that their new logo looks a lot like other logos out there and the internet is going NUTS roasting them on Twitter for it? Yes.
As a creative agency, we know that artwork is suggestive, and a certain look or design may not always please everyone. Especially on the internet where everybody has a degree in graphic design. That’s okay as long as it serves its purpose and our clients end up with a product they love. You gotta have a thick skin to work in this business.
We’ve recently introduced new offerings such as research packages and our Sports180 process to help clients put more meaning and direction behind their creative. Instead of just making pretty posters, we want to create something that will resonate with YOUR fans and local communities. What works for you may not work for someone else even if it looks amazing.
I’m SURE the Los Angeles Chargers thought about this logo for a long time. And if I had to guess, I’m thinking this logo went through several rounds of revisions to get it exactly right. In the statement released by the team’s chairman, he said they are ready to fight for LA and, “we must earn the respect and support of LA football fans.”
Here’s a collection of some of the comments from the social media world. And even one from our very own after hours artist.
We’ve been busy worker bees at Old Hat this past year! Our designers have been trying out new techniques, skills, and as always-knocking things out of the park! Here are some of our favorites from 2016.
This poster was cutout in the shape of a boat, with some special printing techniques where you see the pink.
Gold Medal Work right here!
Was this poster done with some lightning bugs? Maybe..we'll never tell.
This poster is off the grid..or court.
So much greatness packed into one poster! Look at those UTES!
If this doesn't get you excited for some Frank Martin basketball, I don't know what will.
Were YOU There for gameday?
These guys and gals are running all over Texas!
USA Softball is back!
To see more, look for #OH16Review on our instagram!
At the 2016 NACMA Conference, Old Hat lead a presentation on marketing automation. We highlighted the success of RaiseUpCarolina.com, a ticket sales website built for UNC that has helped increase ticket sales revenue by more than $500,000 and aided in selling out their premium seating areas for the first time ever. Marketing automation is one of the tools we used as a part of that project. We took a uniquely positioned website with a great user experience that built excitement for a specific program and turned it into a ridiculously effective sales tool.
A lot of people think of marketing automation as a ticket sales tool, in and of itself. I disagree. I don't think of marketing automation as a tool any more than I think of the handle of a hammer as a tool. The handle of a hammer is only effective if it has the head and/or claw of the hammer. Without one or both of those, it's completely ineffective in achieving its goal. Marketing automation is no different. Without combining marketing automation with other elements to drive results, you're stuck with something as ineffective as the handle of a hammer would be in driving nails.
Some ticketing companies are starting to offer marketing automation as a part of their platform. First, fans visit a school's primary athletic website, navigate to the ticket portal and then their activity is logged and put into the automation system. That information is segmented into audiences and communicated based on their interest on the site. However, there's one major problem with this approach: It's predicated on the idea that people are already interested in coming to those events. If they already want to come, attendance wouldn't be an issue in the first place.
Think about it this way: using marketing automation on a ticket portal through a primary athletic website (goheels.com, for instance) is like putting a ticket sales phone number on a blank, white piece of paper and posting it on a telephone pole on a street corner. It's boring, uninviting, really hard to find and once you do find it, it does nothing to actually make you want to attend the event.
Marketing automation is an amazing way to help increase ticket sales and attendance, but tracking fans' activity on a ticket portal that no one is coming to doesn't take advantage of the power of marketing automation. If no one is coming to your ticket purchasing pages, you're not going to have anyone to track.
Marketing automation is simply a piece of a ticket sales tool. And here are the three things that render it completely ineffective.
1. Dedicated Ticket Sales Site
Again, the problem isn't that people don't know when/where the games are. The problem is that they don't want to come. Simply providing information is not enough. You have to create an interface that builds excitement. Look at your primary website real quick, select any sport, click to purchase tickets and determine if there's anything about that page that actually makes you excited about that sport. If the answer is yes, you're a step ahead, but you're still faced with the issue of forcing people to have to navigate through information about 25 other sports before they find the one they want to buy tickets for. There's a reason the producers of The Avengers built a website just to build excitement about that movie rather than just making it one of many options to look at on the production company's website. And there's a reason that every other major movie does the same thing. Using your primary athletic site to drive ticket sales is a mistake.
2. Off-Season Marketing Campaign
Most of the time, the marketing that takes place for a specific sport happens in the weeks leading up to the start of the season. It will typically continue through the season, but once the season ends, the marketing ends. Sure we send out ticket renewal letters and other information, but most of the time we cease to continue to make them excited about that sport. What we should be doing is actually ramping up our marketing efforts as the season comes to a close and keeping those marketing efforts going the entire off-season. One of the reasons RaiseUpCarolina.com was so successful is because it launched right at the end of the football season. Then, throughout the winter and spring, we were consistently pushing people to that site through a comprehensive marketing campaign. Because we were continually driving traffic to the site, marketing automation was able to do what marketing automation does. If you're not continually driving traffic to your site, you're not getting the most bang for your buck in what you're spending on marketing automation.
3. Digital Marketing Strategy
As discussed, marketing automation is only one part of a much larger puzzle. It is a force multiplier, much like the handle of a hammer. A hammer's head will drive a nail if you hit it hard enough. Add a handle to that head and it amplifies the force exponentially and makes driving that nail a lot easier. Marketing automation is the piece of the tool that makes your efforts exponentially more effective in driving ticket sales. What can make marketing automation even more effective? Other digital strategies that augment marketing automation. One example is geofencing. We can identify an area where you have a potential base of ticket purchasers and target them by geofencing that area and serving them digital advertising through whatever site or app they spend most of their time on. For instance, let's say you have a loyal and passionate fanbase at your basketball games, but those fans aren't coming to your football games. We geofence your basketball arena and all your fans have to do is use their phone to access the web in any way during that event. Once they do, we can then serve them ads on Facebook, Google, etc. to drive them to purchase. These ads will push them to your website where they then enter your marketing automation platform and now you're hitting them from all angles.
There's no question that marketing automation is powerful. A $500,000 increase in ticket sales at UNC is enough to prove that point, but it took a lot more than marketing automation to make that happen: A good program, a great marketing staff, a ticket sales team, a dedicated ticket sales website, an off-season marketing campaign and marketing automation. This season we'll be implementing a comprehensive digital marketing strategy including geofencing and hope to add yet another force multiplier to the ticket sales effort.
Recently, I ventured down to Dallas for a photo/video shoot with SMU basketball. This could possibly be a record of the most things captured in one day!
Our shoot included:
2 on campus locations
1 green screen setup
1 seamless backdrop photo setup
1 on court practical setup
1 audio/video interview setup
WBB on campus intro footage
WBB green screen player features
WBB on court intro footage
MBB green screen player features
MBB green screen intro footage
In order to capture everything in one day, it took a lot of planning and working together with our friends at SMU. Shout out to Ronnie, Director of Marketing, for helping organize everything. We needed to have every detail planned from where we were set up to what time student-athletes were coming to be sure we could capture everything in the most effienct way possible. I think we did just that!
I can't wait to see what Deb and her team do with what we captured. These intros, player features, and interviews are going to be awesome. Plus, these photos will look great on the posters and print pieces we are about to design.
Want to know what (and how) your peers at other schools are doing when it comes to attendance, game experience, ticket sales, and marketing? Here’s your chance to find out!
You’re invited to participate in our State of Sports Marketing survey. It only takes a few minutes to complete, and individual responses will be kept confidential.
What’s in it for you?
The inside scoop. Participants will have the option to receive a special insiders’ report with full survey results that won’t be shared with the general public.
Gift cards! We’ll be giving away Amazon gift cards with values up to $100 to 15 lucky survey participants. All you have to do is opt in for a chance to win at the end of the survey.
So share your thoughts, score some free stuff, and find out what’s really going on in the industry. And share it with your friends who also work in college athletics.
Why share the survey? The more people who take it, the better you'll be able to see what's going on in the industry in terms of attendance, marketing techniques, game day experience, and more! Anyone who takes the survey is eligible to win one of the gift cards we're giving away (get up to $100 on Amazon!) and receive a copy of the exclusive Insiders' Report.
Take and share the survey now! It’s only open through Oct 21st.
EUGENE, OR - University of Oregon Athletic Department officials announced Wednesday that they have ended their long-standing relationship with Nike and have signed with Walmart's Avia brand to provide all athletic apparel and shoes.
"We appreciate everything Nike and Phil Knight have done for the University of Oregon and respect the organization immensely. However, we feel that it is time for a new era in Oregon Athletics and we are confident that Walmart is the right organization to represent the Oregon brand," one official stated.
Okay, did anyone believe that for one second? Did anyone truly believe that Oregon, a major collegiate athletic program, would drop Nike in favor of Walmart? Of course not.
A lot of reasons, most likely. For one, Nike and Phil Knight have given so much support to the University of Oregon, they'd never dream of going with any other apparel company, much less Walmart's Avia brand. But let's swap out Oregon, and let's say Michigan instead. Or Bowling Green. Or UConn. Or East Popcorn State University. Would you have believed the headline then?
East Popcorn State drops Adidas; Walmart's Avia to provide Colonels Team Apparel
Would that headline be any more believable? Probably not.
Avia makes fine apparel. I have a pair of running shorts from Walmart, and I don't run any slower when I wear them than when I wear my Nike shorts. In fact, I can't tell the difference. My favorite pair of running shorts are BCG brand, not Nike. Avia could provide athletic team apparel to the Ducks that feels pretty similar to what Nike provides. The Ducks could take the field in apparel provided by Walmart and they wouldn't run any slower, throw the ball any less accurately, shoot with any lower percentage or hit with any lower of an average.
So if Walmart were to come to the table and commit to providing everything Nike provides and a financial incentive far greater than Nike, would any major university be willing to announce that they've dropped Nike or Adidas or Under Armour in favor of a Walmart brand?
Not a chance. But why?
The answer, of course: Perception. Pride. Respect. Quality.
There's no coach or athletic director in the country that is going to send their team on the field wearing Avia or BCG or C9. And even if they were, how tough would it be to recruit kids to come play for a school if they know they'll be trading in the swoosh for the... uh, "I" with a little arrow thingy on top? The coaches, the department personnel and the kids would be embarrassed to compete in anything but a top name brand. And why? Because they'd look ridiculous. It's the same reason NBA players don't shoot free throws granny-style, despite the scientific data that shows they'd make way more shots that way. They'd get laughed at. And no one wants to be laughed at.
I'm not arguing that this is a bad thing. I jog in cheap jogging shorts. But rest assured that if I were going to be on national television, I'd go buy some brand new Nike shorts. I'd also probably try to drop a few pounds. Because on the national stage, we all want to look good. And no disrespect to Walmart, but running out of the tunnel wearing the Avia logo on your chest is not an idea that gets anyone excited. It all makes complete and total sense. I get it.
But there's something I don't get.
There's something I don't understand at all.
This philosophy of looking good and only being willing to wear what looks the best or shoot the way that looksthe best... the philosophy that we all think makes complete and total sense... why does that not apply to everything that represents our collegiate sports teams?
Why are we willing to let our team run out of the tunnel after an intro/hype video that doesn't actually build any hype? Why do we show videoboard prompts that are cheap, canned reproductions that don't match our brand? Why do we promote the sport that has the highest potential and greatest need for ticket sales revenue with marketing collateral that is just "good enough," has no research behind it and isn't positioned to actually drive attendance? Why do we not even consider for one second letting our teams wear something that isn't absolutely first-class, but when it comes to promoting those sports, driving attendance and building a game experience, we often settle for what is least expensive? This isn't the case everywhere, of course, but there are so many times at so many major universities that an athletic department will choose the Walmart version of a creative service over the Nike equivalent.
A glaring example of this is most universities' online ticket buying portals. Every school in the country wants to sell more tickets. Every school in the country wants to drive attendance. Yet if you look at the online ticket purchasing experience at those schools, the user interface is terrible, it's impossible to find the information you need, it takes way too many clicks to purchase and the pages are bland and boring and do nothing to actually make a fan want to come to the event. Everything about these portals depend on a fan already wanting to come to the event so badly that they're willing to jump through hoops to buy a ticket. And not even cool, exciting, flaming-hoops-of-fire. Boring, bland, unexciting hoops.
Promoting our teams with poor quality marketing isn't just as bad as sending them onto the court in Walmart brand shoes. It's like sending them onto the court with no shoes at all. We wouldn't be giving them the tools to succeed and by relying on the least expensive option for marketing, we're not giving ourselves the tools to succeed in driving attendance.
So all that said, I'm not ignorant to the idea that sometimes the least expensive option is the only option. Budgets are tight in collegiate athletics and sometimes you can control the amount you're given to promote your sports. So here are some practical tips that you can employ to help drive attendance at your events.
Ticket Sales Portal
Count the Clicks - How many clicks does it take to buy a ticket on your website? On the high end, we sometimes see that it can take up to 7-8 clicks to make a purchase. Some have streamlined it down to as few as 3. Obviously, the lower the number, the more likely people are to purchase. And most of the time, you can make changes to your site to bring that number down. Count the number of clicks it takes to make a purchase and see if you can cut that number in half.
Spruce Up the Joint - Unfortunately, most ticketing companies provide a portal that is boring and unengaging. They don't do much to actually make a fan want to purchase. But there are typically at least a couple of things you can to do customize that page. Take advantage of those opportunities by bringing your marketing campaign for that sport into the headers and other graphics on that page. In a perfect world, add some video content to those pages, even if it's just your stadium intro/hype video. Fans love to watch those things and if the only place to watch it is by going to your ticket sales page, that could go a long way toward driving ticket sales. Best way to sell a ticket to someone is to give them the opportunity to buy when they're most excited about it.
Forget Your Die-Hard Fans - I wrote an article a few weeks ago about how we need to start looking at schedule posters as advertisements rather than promotional tools. Because most of the time, they don't do much to drive attendance. But every advertising campaign starts with research to determine who your audience is. Maybe you don't have a budget for research. That's fine. You know your area and you know who has the most potential to become new ticket purchasers. Spend some time thinking about who those people are and develop a campaign that targets those people. The die-hard fans are going to come regardless of what the poster looks like or the tagline that's on it. So think about a way to appeal (both through messaging and through the visuals) to a different group. You'll probably find that putting all the seniors on the poster with a generic tagline isn't the best way to appeal to those people. Be bold and put something unique out there. Because like I said, the die-hards are coming anyway. And by trying something unique you just might appeal to a totally new group.
Take Advantage of Your Friends & Family - The best thing I can advise for improving your game experience is to identify where things are lacking. And the best way to do that is to engage a firm to do a comprehensive gameday audit. But if your budget doesn't allow for that, make your friends and family work for those tickets they begged you for! Give them a checklist and have them rate every experience on a scale of 1 to 5. Ticket takers, concessionaires, ushers, intro video, band, cheer, etc. You may not get a comprehensive report from industry experts, but you'll have more information than you started with. And sometimes it's good to have input from people who aren't immersed in collegiate athletics 24/7. At the very least, you'll have a unique perspective outside your own.
We might have mentioned it once or twice before, but last spring, we conducted a Sports180 with SMU Athletics. We met with SMU's staff, did the research, and decided how to strategically and visually approach this year and drive attendance at SMU events on campus.
Last weekend, SMU hosted Liberty University for the first Mustang home football game of the year. I #GotThere and watched the game in person! I love being able to see the work our designers created in real life. Usually I only get to see it on my computer screen. Thanks again to the SMU staff for having me!
As a part of the Sports180, we've created many many pieces for SMU sports all following a consistent brand. For football specifically, those include: