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).
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!
There are a handful of people who make your job never feel like a job. They challenge you to do your best work and they trust you to accomplish that feat. It is truly a pleasure working with them. I can say without a doubt that Brad Wurthman, Associate Director of Athletics, Marketing/Fan Development at the University of Illinois, is one of those people. He started working with Old Hat in 2011 while at the University of Cincinnati. Brad's very first project was this Bearcats Football Black Out game poster.
Everybody loved The Dark Knight theme in 2011!
His first video with us happened in 2012 and we've been fortunate to work with "America's Favorite Canadian Ginger" ever since. Some of my absolute favorite projects have been Wurthman's.
So what's the real story with this guy? We asked him 20 Questions to find out. Feel free to add your own Canadian accent when reading this.
1. NAME: Brad Wurthman
2. OCCUPATION/TITLE: Associate Director of Athletics, Marketing/Fan Development
3. HOMETOWN: Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
4. PREGAME RITUAL: Gum. Lots of gum. Specifically bubble gum. Plus trash talking. Other than that, I normally try to find about a 2 minute window where I’m completely on my own to just take a look at all of the work that has gone into preparing for our game and the people who worked on it to enjoy that feeling of accomplishment.
5. FAVORITE THING TO SNACK ON: Cookies. Is that a snack? If not, it would still win. I’d still pick cookies even if I wasn’t allowed to.
6. FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB: Having the opportunity to be part of a team that can make an immediate impact on something that people are emotionally invested in. There’s a reason I want to sell sports and not something else.
7. LEAST FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB: Since everyone can be involved in everything at times, progress can be slowed for certain projects – just have to keep your wits about you and commit to finding the best solution possible.
9. ADVICE TO YOUR YOUNGER SELF: Breathe. Take a moment to do the things that are important to you for personal reasons and not just for professional reasons. Set boundaries and stick to them – without compromising your ambition. Focus on learning, not only on progressing. Most importantly, always leave the blackjack table when you have more money than you arrived with.
10. YOUR GO-TO KARAOKE SONG: I think everyone has to have a three song rotation, unless you’re talented enough to audition for The Voice. Karaoke is not about my voice – it’s about crowd interaction. So, in very specific order…Don’t Stop Believing by Journey, Friends in Low Places by Garth Brooks, Hero by Enrique Iglesias.
11. FAVORITE MOVIE: Jurassic Park
12. FAVORITE TV SHOW: House of Cards
13. IF YOU WERE IN A BOY BAND WHAT WOULD IT BE CALLED: Who says I wasn’t? The Eh Team.
14. FAVORITE PLACE TO EAT: Smoke’s Poutinerie
15. WHAT DO YOU ORDER THERE: Montreal style smoked meat poutine
16. FAVORITE DISNEY PRINCESS: No contest. Ariel. Gingers have to stick together.
17. WHAT’S YOUR SPIRIT ANIMAL: I took two quizzes to answer this question. One said lion, one said llama. So, take that for what it’s worth.
18. WHAT’S THE STUPIDEST THING YOU’VE EVER DONE: All in a matter of about 2 weeks, I committed to go on a 3 week trip to China after graduating college. Though it turned out to be one of the best experiences of my life, I had no actual idea what I was signing up for at the time and it didn’t actually hit me until I was staring down at the center of the Pacific Ocean. Sometimes, not thinking about the end result leads to you to make the best decisions!
19. WHAT’S THE LAST SHOW THAT YOU BINGE-WATCHED: Narcos.
20. IF YOU WEREN’T DOING THIS JOB WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING: I grew up in a family of teachers and really believe in the power of education – but was not blessed with the same patience gene for rooms of 30 children so that was never going to work. However, I’d love to teach snowboarding and live in Western Canada at one of the resorts – it’s so much fun to watch someone experience their first linked turn because it’s a very individual sport – either you commit to it and fight through it or you don’t. I’m a sucker for a good story about overcoming challenges.
Do ever you find yourself picking apart things you're an expert in? I'm not talking about the things you think you're an expert in. Not the topics that fill our newsfeeds: politics, officiating, coaching, quarterbacking. I'm talking about the things that consume your everyday lives: jobs/fantasy football/fonts/pickling. You actually know a little something-something about these things and can talk intelligently about them. You know, the things you list on your LinkedIn profiles. The categories you dominate at Wednesday Night Trivia.
I like to think I know a little something-something about sports video production, gender studies in the media, local news/radio production, The West Wing, and movie soundtracks (guys, I once won a cruise ship contest). I can't sit in the movie theater before the previews begin without naming the movie that goes with the song playing. I can't watch a local newscast without production room sarcastic commentary. And I can't watch a sports video without thinking of ways to improve it. That mostly applies to work that comes across my desk. I'm my biggest critic. I know that's pretty cliche to say...perhaps it's even old hat (pun point!).
I don't go all Miranda Priestly on our work, but if you're not constantly trying to improve or be willing to take chances in the creative biz, WHAT'S THE POINT?
I think we all have a "Wish List" when we look back at our work. Some things are in our control. Some things are out of our control. Here are just a few of my nonspecific wishes:
- I wish we had more time on that shoot.
- I wish we had more time on that project.
- I wish my writing was a little less cheesy.
- I wish we didn't have to use that same concept every single year.
- I wish they had used a tripod.
- I wish that song had never been written.
- I wish we had better highlights.
This last wish: better highlights. When I wish for better highlights I'm not commenting on the quality of the play or the players. You don't have to have an awesome record to have an awesome video. My commentary is directed at the collection of highlights selected for editing. Below are five tips when picking highlights to use for a video.
1- Don't cut too soon.
The thing that makes your team different from other teams isn't the touchdown, the dunk, or the goal. It's the personality of your players and coaches after those actions. Their celebrations. Their emotions. Include the reactions after the actions.
2- Variety is the name of the game.
Some of our best videos have highlights that are from multiple camera angles. You'd be surprised how big of a difference it makes with the pacing (aka: keeping things interesting) when you're able to cut from the full court camera to the under the basket cam, and then to the rim cam. Think about watching a sporting event, your favorite tv show or movie and how boring it would be if it all came from one camera angle.
3- Understand team politics.
Every coach is different. Every team is different. Before you start editing your slick hype video you better figure out the team politics. Does coach only want to show the starters? Three out of five starters? Seniors only? Does every player need to make an appearance? Has she really earned her spot in the video? You might not think coaches have an opinion on the video, but they do. You don't need to know all of the nitty-gritty details of what's going on with the team, but you need a general idea so you're not re-editing the night before the game. Sometimes a hype video is more than a hype video.
4- The audio. The audio. The audio.
Radio and television play-by-play can add an extra POW to highlights. It's an added layer of awesome to your video. There's something about hearing somebody get excited about a play. But remember with great play-by-play comes great responsibility. TOO MUCH p-b-p can have the opposite effect and slow down the pacing of the video. Most calls last longer than five seconds. Not every highlight needs it.
5- Don't be THAT guy.
No editor wants to go through multiple game melts when putting together a hype video. Seriously, when you're in video-making-mode you don't have time to watch hours of games searching for the best 20-30 highlights (that includes reactions, multiple camera angles, only the seniors, and radio play-by-play) for a one minute video. Don't be that guy to your future self or to others. Don't sabotage the video. Organizing these clips throughout the season or at the end of the season will help you out in the long run. You can do it by players, by plays, by games. Just do it. Yes, it takes time, but it takes a lot more time trying to find that one awesome dunk by Jackson in hundreds of minutes of footage. Plus, now you can spend a whole bunch of extra time making your video more amazing.
One of my favorite video editing inspirations on the web is Burger Fiction (also here). Burger Fiction was started by two dudes "as a one year project, to make a video once a week. We wanted to challenge ourselves to make something creative (outside of our full-time jobs) every week and put it out there for people to watch." I LOVE these videos. They're highly entertaining and incredibly creative editing. One particular video I recently came across was the 40 Greatest Jump Scares. I started watching it full screen, ear buds in, your normal office setting (lights on, people around). I only made it 1:39 of the nearly 9-minute video. I paused the video, violently threw my ear buds on my desk, and had Kevin wondering what my problem was.
I don't particularily enjoy scary movies. I blame the movie Paranormal Activity. We saw it in the theater and it still freaked the crap out of me days later. It is the reason I prefer to not have surveillance cameras inside my house to see the cute things my bulldogs do during the day. I don't want to see my dogs staring at nothing or watch my dining room chairs move around. So that probably explains my unimpressive time score.
This video gave me the idea to record my co-workers watching it and see how long they could last before completely losing it.
Okay, so I borrowed that from the Runnin' Utes...but how can you argue with that philosophy? While it is meant for the basketball team, it most certainly can be applied to our projection video creative process.
A project of this scale is not something you can just throw together last minute. For an October release date, we started the planning and concepting last June. We had weekly phone calls with Grant at Utah to discuss our plans and how we could best execute what he was looking to accomplish. We talked about how many versions would be needed, what kind of effects to use, key moments and players to feature, coach's philosophy, music, and even crowd participation. Grant spent time with his team to provide a story board outlining the videos and providing content. We then took those initial story boards and brought them to life in production. New 3D effects and concepts were created to show the court falling away into darkness, the Block U logo matching the beat of the music, and the court rippling and waving to name a few.
Sure, the 3D effects are awesomely cool, but it means more when there is a story to tell. We took the time to artfully script the video to flow as nicely as possible. Other things to consider include crowd participation and timing with the pre-game festivities. We also follow our well-tested process of providing smaller segments at a time for approval so we can be as efficient as possible.
There's no way this could have been done without the help of Grant and his team at Utah. They understand what they need to provide regarding direction and input and trust us to do the rest. Our editing team has so much fun with these 3D projection videos. While we have gained valuable experience and learned a lot over the past three years of projection videos, the sky's the limit as to what we can do next!
Here's a look at this year's Runnin' Utes intro video:
Using some of the same 3D elements but different player features, here's the women's basketball intro:
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.
"Great moments are born from great opportunity." That's the first line of US Hockey Coach Herb Brooks' motivational locker room speech in the movie Miracle that is about the 1980 victory over the USSR in the Lake Placid Olympics. It's unclear if Coach Brooks actually said it, but man, when you hear Kurt Russell deliver it, you're hooked.
The 2000 film Remember the Titans is chock-full of inspriational speeches. Here's one delivered by Denzel Washington:
And of course who can forget Gene Hackman's rally clap inducing speech in Hoosiers?
Hollywood has got the sports motivational locker room speech nailed down and it begs the question: Is there such a thing as an organic motivational coach speech in real life?
This ESPN College GameDay feature answers that very question (be sure to maximize the video frame for full goosebumps).
I've seen and helped produce Intro Hype videos featuring coaches and players giving pre-written lines and I've seen and helped produce videos featuring completely organic, from the heart speeches. Honestly, I prefer the later. Coaches are awesome at motivating student athletes and scheming up plays, and players are awesome at delivering on the field of play. The fact remains most do not have the acting chops of a Denzel Washington or Gene Hackman. Don't feel bad; I'm sure Gene would get destroyed on the field. Some of my favorite videos that we've produced feature real genuine audio and/or video of locker room speeches. This audio takes an otherwise solid video and raises it to another level.
Nowadays, it's just about standard practice to have a team camera in the locker room during the pregame and postgame. Not every speech is going to be THE SPEECH, but you might be surprised by a few special nuggets from your team. It's worth keeping track of during the season and communicating with your video staff, because it's really hard to trigger those goosebumps, unless of course the person delivering the speech has won an Academy Award. It's to your advantage to use these organic moments that fans crave to see. There's a reason the HBO and Showtime sports documentaries following teams behind-the-scenes are so popular. I think it's a pretty good recruiting tool as well because it shows the passion a coach has for his/her team.
Point is, these speeches can and should have life beyond the moment, beyond social media. They are special. They are unique. They are POWERFUL. And they can mark a major change for a program. If you don't think so, rewatch Coach Dino Babers speech to his Syracuse Orange.
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.
If there was only one thing I could tell a new college graduate looking to get into the sports industry it's that the turnover is constant. Folks are always moving halfway across the country for new opportunities. During my eight busy seasons with Old Hat, the list is short for people who have remained at the same institution for several years. Don't get me wrong, one of the best things about my job is getting to work with so many different teams. However, it's also pretty cool to be able to say we've been creating video board entertainment with North Texas, Utah, and Wisconsin for 5+ years. I know a lot of people will question how much a sports creative agency in Norman, Oklahoma could ever understand about an athletic institution deep in the heart of Texas, the Wasatch Range, or America's Dairyland, but honestly that's our job. It's really so much more than just creating cool-looking posters, videos and websites. It's researching, strategizing, and building relationships with the teams, the marketing department staff, and the fanbase that you might not normally get with one-and-done projects.
The Wisconsin Badgers have a fantastic in-house video department that handles media responsibilities for 23 varsity teams; so the marketing department looks to us to handle their historical videos. And let me tell you, these projects are massive. We're talking more than a century of moments. In 2012, we took on the Men's Basketball Historical video for the very first time.
Here's a quick By the Numbers:
25 Audio Clips
44 Video Clips
Over the years we've updated this video with several new clips thanks to a lot of March success.
This year we'll be updating the design and music as well as adding a few new clips.
We've also had the awesome opportunity to work on Football, Men's Hockey, and Women's Hockey for several years:
U2 and the history of Badger Football are a staple at Camp Randall Stadium each fall.
We're pretty excited about the overhaul to this particular video this year as a few familiar faces return to Madison.
The Number One team in nation will be adding more accolades to this year's update.
Wisconsin Athletics has some seriously storied programs. Is it cool to work on projects featuring Ron Dayne, JJ Watt, Frank Kaminsky, Chris Chelios, and Hilary Knight (just to name a few)?
Do I consider myself one of the most knowledgeable people in the State of Oklahoma when it comes to the History of Wisconsin Badgers Athletics?