SCC FFL Sports Marketing Competition – 2019 Champions

What an amazing finish…without a doubt, this was the most competitive season in the history of Sports Career Consulting’s Fantasy Football sports marketing contest.  Despite some separation in the standings in the final few weeks, the top ten teams were legitimate contenders to win this year’s championship and a standing ovation is in order for all of this years participants.  It is safe to say that a new bar was set this year, however, as we received the most elaborate, creative and comprehensive responses to the challenges that we have seen in this competition…overall, such an impressive group of kids, no doubt the result of the efforts of some outstanding sports marketing teachers.  Kudos to all for a great season!

That said, we did have a few standouts, particularly with the final challenge (digital marketing).  Congratulations to Karen Russo’s class at Hinsdale High School in Illinois for winning our 5th annual fantasy football sports marketing competition!  This is the second time they have won the competition, making them the first two-time champions in league history. Way to go Omaha Haymakers front office!

Hinsdale Central students managed to hold off last year’s champions (Kim Radford’s sports marketing class at Blacksburg High School in Virginia) the last few weeks to win the competition, no easy task considering how well the Toronto Owls’ front office performed in the sports marketing challenges . Both the Haymakers and Owls will be rewarded with pizza parties to celebrate their accomplishments and the Haymakers will get another trophy to proudly display in class.  Congrats to both schools on a job very well done.

Ed Lapp’s class at Pequea Valley HS in Pennsylvania (Kentucky Reigns) also had a great season, taking third place (highest finish in league history for a first-time participant in the competition) while Bob Kelly and his students at Waverly HS in New York (OKC Tornados) landed in fourth.  Zach Gueth’s class from Miami Valley Career Technology Center in Ohio (Dayton Cruisers) managed to hold off a late season push from Ricole Rusch’s class at Pine Island HS in Minnesota (Oregon Mountaineers) for fifth place. 

Richele Falloon’s class at Montgomery County HS in Missouri consistently performs well in this competition and this year was no exception as they were a top ten team all season, nice job from the Honolulu Hammerheads front office finishing in 7th place. John Smulowitz’s students from Dallas HS in Pennsylvania also turned in an impressive “rookie” performance as the first-time participants (Keystone Mountaineers) took 8th place. Steve Hodges’ students at Crook County High School in Oregon had their best performance ever as the Omaha Bandits front office cracked the top ten, finishing in 9th place. Rounding out the top ten was the Portland Pioneers front office, led by Stephanie Neal, as her students at Colleyville Heritage High School in Texas turned in another solid performance throughout the competition. You can visit us at masterspokerclub.com

We also have a few individual school shout-outs for the response to the digital marketing challenge below…

FRONT OFFICE “SHOUT OUTS” FOR CHALLENGE #6 (DIGITAL MARKETING):

Toronto Owls (Blacksburg HS / Virginia):

Every team had a solid digital marketing strategy in place, quality app, easy-to-use website, social media presence etc. One of the things that really stood out about the Owls’ digital strategy was recognizing the value of digital not only for sales, marketing and communication, but also for service. For example, the team developed a stadium experience survey to be deployed via the team’s app and team’s website (image below) to gather fan feedback to help meet and exceed consumer expectations on game days. Loved the proactive approach and recognition of all the ways digital can benefit from the franchise.

We have preached the importance of attention to detail throughout the competition, and nothing screams ATD like not only creating ACTUAL social media handles, YouTube channel (with REAL videos) and a website, but also smack talking the only team ahead of them in the standings through the team’s official Twitter account like the Owls did. Like every challenge response this season, the Owls’ front office did an amazing job. Congrats on a fantastic season!

Las Vegas Leopards (Wheatley School / New York):

Again, attention to detail is key, and one thing that we thought was really cool with the Leopards digital strategy was the recognition of the importance of sales. Great idea to have pop up ads for ticket and apparel specials, making sure that you are providing a value to your app users above and beyond the fantasic and robust features already included. Nice job Wheatley School students, congrats on a successful first season in SCC’s fantasy football competition!

OKC Tornados (Waverly HS / New York):

Fan engagement is the name of the game with digital, and the Tornados front office developed some fantastic strategies for connecting with fans through a myriad of different programs. Our favorite idea, among the many described, was the implementation of in-game contests like “Do You Want to Challenge the Call” through the team’s app. The contest will encourage fans to choose decisions they think the Tornado’s head coach will make throughout the game (like throwing a challenge flag) for a chance to win prizes and discounts on stadium concessions and items from the team store. Really well done, and another amazing season from Waverly high school.

Toronto Wolverines (Richardson HS / Texas):

Another great example of using digital for more than just sales and marketing, thought it was a great idea to feature the Wolverines’ mission statement on the team website. Effective communication with your fanbase is challenging, and dedicating space online to share your team values and commitment to the consumer is a smart strategy. Well done Richardson HS!

Oregon Mountaineers (Pine Island HS / Minnesota):

Lots of clever brand extensions here with the Mountaineers digital strategy, loved the creativity. Also, one of only two teams that recognized the importance of developing a distribution strategy for the app (Mountaineer Mobile) by making it available on the Apple store and Google Play store, along with a great price point (free) and commitment to content marketing.

Direct fantasy football integration seems like a natural fit, not sure why more teams don’t do something like this, and the wide variety of themed photo filters to appeal to multiple demographics seems like a great way to engage as many fans as possible.

Another successful season in the books for Pine Island High School, great job as always!

Kentucky Reigns (Pequea Valley, PA):

Loved seeing the focus on development of “interactive elements” as a strategy for boosting fan engagement from the Reigns’ front office. Also, the focus on capturing fan data was some really advanced stuff. Lots of great ideas here and an amazing run the last few weeks to shoot up the standings and finish in the top three, particularly for a school participating for the first time. Really well done Pequea Valley students!

A few highlights from this challenge response:

  • Gamification strategy with the “You Make the Coin-Call” promotion, a digital marketing tactic used to engage fans and capture fan data through the team app (sounds like fun!)
  • Digital scavenger hunt encouraging fans to connect with the team through social channels, including everything from Facebook to TikTok to maximize reach
  • Cause related campaign through social media in partnership with Ronald McDonald house for “Baby Food Challenge” (including the awesome video of you guys actually DOING the challenge…and while we appreciate being nominated to attempt the challenge, we have to pass on eating the carrot flavored baby food on camera)

Dayton Cruisers (MVCTC / Ohio):

Lots of great ideas here from the Dayton Cruisers front office, including a fantastic hashtag to share through social with #cruizetovictory, along with podcasts, trivia games on the app (what a great way to boost fan engagement levels) and pro bowl voting functionality, but our favorite was the introduction of Cruisers branded emojis, particularly the mascot. Brilliant work! Nice job all season by MVCTC students…

Omaha Bandits (Crook County HS / Oregon):

Another week, another perfect score on a sports marketing challenge for the Omaha Bandits front office who came on strong at the end of the year…unfortunately for Crook County students, they had too much ground to make up to find their way into the championship conversation. Such an impressive showing from the Bandits though…can’t tell you how impressed we were with the response to challenge #6. Way to go Bandits!

Some highlights:

  • “Dashboard Analytics” using an algorithm to capture fan data to improve their experience as they interact with your digital marketing efforts
  • Fan of the week nominations through social, great way to boost fan engagement levels
  • Player “take over” days, most definitely will increase the number of followers and keep fans engaged with team-branded content
  • Integration of augmented reality like photo ops w/ virtual players
  • Digital “scratch off” ticket program through the team app
  • “Bandit Banter” podcast show
  • Team branded trivia and “riddles” on the team’s website

Hollywood Gold Diggers (Flower Mound HS / Texas):

One of only two teams to recognize the importance of an “opt-in” with digital marketing, the Gold Diggers front office created a sms messaging marketing campaign for its fans. The key to a successful campaign like this one is content, and sharing a variety of stuff ranging from inspirational quotes from the team’s players to discounts, ticket specials and unique videos will definitely keep fans interested and engaged.

Smart strategy to feature the #TheGoldTheBold hashtag on all messaging, and love the concept of the gamification strategy on the app allowing fans to “bet” on challenges being performed on the half-time show. Overall, nice job from Flower Mound students this year!

*** SCC FFL 2019 FINAL STANDINGS ***

Important reminder for teachers:  No matter where you finished in the standings, please be sure to reiterate what a great job your students did this season.  You all made evaluating each challenge very difficult as the ideas were so creative and everyone demonstrated such a fantastic understanding of the business of sports throughout the competition. Again, this project goes above and beyond what most schools are doing in class and your students all deserve to be commended for a job well done. At the end of the day, all we really hope to accomplish with our fantasy football project is a fun way to teach sports marketing.  Hopefully we managed to do just that.  Congrats to you all, great work.

Hope to see you all again next season!

TeamPrevious PointsChallenge #6 PtsTotal
Omaha Haymakers35463453891
Toronto Owls35023503852
Kentucky Reigns34953473842
OKC Tornados34793483827
Dayton Cruisers34603453805
Oregon Mountaineers34583393797
Honolulu Hammerheads34493193766
Keystone Mountaineers34243183742
Omaha Bandits33483503698
Portland Pioneers33133353648
Toronto Wolverines32763223598
Las Vegas Dynamix32453193564
Las Vegas Aces32313053536
Las Vegas Blackjacks31993053504
Birmingham Bombers31643053469
Kansas Nightmare31013173418
Orlando Lizards326503265
Las Vegas Spades294402944
Las Vegas Leopards26183122930
Hollywood Gold Diggers25353222857
London Knights253802538
Grand Rapids Riptide251102511
Grand Rapids Loggers248802488
New Mexico Mustangs217002170
Oregon Flood207902079
Winnipeg Lumberjax135301353
OKC Young Rich Nation127101271
Anchorage Anchors8720872
WLHS5010501

#NationalHatDay

One of the great advantages of social media is its ability to provide digital marketing professionals with a great vehicle for connecting with fans in unconventional ways.  Platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram give consumers a reason to celebrate just about anything. Take for instance “National Hat Day”, which was trending on Twitter with the hashtag #NationalHatDay last week.  So how were teams leveraging the hat day buzz to sell more gear and promote their brands?  Here is a quick rundown of some of the activity on Twitter…

Many teams spent the day having a little fun on Twitter to “celebrate” the #NationalHatDay:

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#BeFrank Player of the Year Campaign

The Wisconsin Badgers have a done a great job all year promoting Frank Kaminsky as a NCAA Wooden Award candidate (given to the nation’s top player each year).  The marketing efforts along with his play have helped solidify him as the leading candidate to win the award.

The Badgers athletics program has been updating a unique microsite (promoted through their various social channels using the hashtag #BeFrank) linked to their athletics homepage all season long (http://www.uwathletics.com/befrank).  Adding the social element has given the campaign more legs as it enables brands and media outlets to get involved (see the screenshot featuring tweets from Champs Sports and Sporting News below).  It also, allows them to maximize fan engagement such as their efforts on Instagram to congratulate Kaminsky on being named as a finalist for the award and share Vines featuring highlights throughout the season.

The site itself includes a brief video, media clips, accomplishments throughout the season, including his academic achievements and commentary regarding his character.  There is no question that having a player from your program win any award, particularly something as prestigious as the Heisman or Wooden award.  It certainly gives the program’s brand a big boost, especially on the heels of having another player from the program finish as runner up in this year’s Heisman race in Melvin Gordon (the Badgers used the hashtag #MelvinMoment to promote his campaign).  It is always interesting to see how an Athletics program promotes individual success but this particular campaign, to be frank, looks to be a winner.

 

Leveraging Free Agency (DeMarco Murray Edition)

After withstanding a firestorm of criticism for their free agent moves thus far in free agency, the Eagles made a major splash on the FA market with the signing of rival Dallas Cowboys’ RB DeMarco Murray.  To maximize the publicity generated by the move, the team naturally took to almost all of their social platforms with Murray related posts.  The only omission was Pinterest (screenshot below).

Interesting to note that the team now carries three explosive running backs on the roster and they parlayed that into the hashtag “Legion of Zoom”, a spinoff of the nickname for the Seattle Seahawks defense who is dubbed the Legion of Boom.  At the time of this blog post, that Instagram image alone had already received 28,500 likes and nearly 1,500 comments.

All in all, pretty well measured campaign to cap off an exciting free agency for the Eagles as they continue to overhaul the entire team…they have easily been the most talked about NFL franchise in the last week…both in the media and through social channels.  Check out the gallery below for more…

 

Social Media Ghost Town: Google Plus

Today’s post comes courtesy of Griffin Booth, Sports Career Consulting’s blog manager and guest blogger.

Last summer’s much anticipated released of Google + introduced another social media platform to the masses. According to ZDnet, G+ amassed 5 million users within the first month after launch. While G+ does not yet compare to the 1 billion users on Facebook and 500 million users on Twitter, the platform does boast 400 million registered users (as of November 2012), making it the 4th largest social network in the world (these statistics derived from expanded ramblings). This helps support the fact that G+ still maintains a significant number of global users and offers another great opportunity for sports brands to connect with fans.

Google has, for the most part, been a leader in innovation. With “Project Glass” and a driver-less car project on the horizon, it’s a safe bet that Google’s commitment to creating an unparalleled user experience is unwavering. That commitment only reinforces the untapped potential of their social networking platforms. To underscore this point, consider the unique features G+ offers, such as the “hangout” feature, a tool enabling multiple users to live video chat, creating a new and unique way for face-to-face communication to occur. From a sports business perspective, what better way for teams to promote their athletes and connect with fans or for athletes to promote brands in which they represent?  G+ also offers an easy for news and updates to be posted as well so that fans no longer need to look up a “page” in order to get their information about favorite teams or athletes. Considering the potential of G+ to help brands connect with fans, how have those in the sports industry integrated G+ with their overall digital strategies?

Brands:

A recent post on Forbes online highlights the most profitable brands in the sports market. Heavyweight Nike reigns above the competition and has long been a leader in the digital space, but has been largely dismissive of G+. Nike currently stands at +337,660, with 338,243 in their circle. Considering the millions of consumers that consider themselves fans of the swoosh, Nike has done little via G+. The last posted was in May of 2012, ironically promoting Nike Golf using the face of one of their top athletes in Tiger Woods. Nike’s rival, Adidas, has a smaller presence with +9,317 and 7,328 in their circle. While Adidas doesn’t post to G+ every day, they have frequently promoted commercials and encouraged fan interaction. In addition to commercials, Adidas has posted a ton of content, including interviews with sponsors, and product release dates. Another Nike competitor, Under Armour, is also active on their G+ page, but has yet to reach a wide audience. Under Armour currently stands at a +487 with only 184 fans in their circle. While this is relatively low, Under Armour continues to take the time to provide promotional content within their page, with the hope that more consumers will take note. On the flip side, Gatorade, another premier sports brand, has not posted to their G+ page since June. Subsequently, they currently sit at +695.

Meanwhile, in the Forbes list of most valuable sports brands, ESPN ranked second behind Nike. While they are more than just an apparel industry, ESPN is highly active within G+. Their page caters an amazing 2,214,671 followers with a +2,243,674. ESPN doesn’t let their fan base down, consistently posting on their page every single day. ESPN not only posts highlights on their page, but also creates points of fan engagement through polls and hangouts, while promoting commercials as well. They are a leading example of how using G+ can be an extremely valuable medium for connecting with and engaging fans online.

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Around the Horn: April 17th

Groundbreaking news from the racing world:  Announced today, the Ford Focus will become the first ever electric car to lead the field as the pace care at a NASCAR event during the April 28th Sprint Cup race in Richmond.  The decision drives homes NASCAR’s continued emphasis on green initiatives, but Ford has the most to gain by showcasing an electric model and educating a large number of consumers about new technologies.

Today a Kenyan runner won the men’s division of the Boston Marathon, marking the 19th time in 22 years that a Kenyan has won the prestigious race.  A Kenyan runner also finished first in the women’s race, the 3rd time that has happened in the previous 5 years.  The big winner, however, is the city of Boston.  According to estimates from the Greater Boston Convention & Visitors Bureau (via myfoxboston.com), the race was expected to bring in over $137 million to the Greater Boston area, an economic impact roughly equal to that of a Final Four.

With 22 million hits already, I must be one of the last to see this TNT viral video…however, if you are like me and hadn’t seen it yet, you should definitely check it out.  The stunt provided a brilliant means for building buzz surrounding the launch of the station in Belgium…

Did the Planned Parenthood PR debacle back in January really result in a significant drop in participation rates for Susan G. Komen for the Cure events as USA Today is reporting?  If so, that’s the sad end result of a botched crisis management effort, providing a perfect example of why the “all publicity is good publicity” theory isn’t exactly spot on…

Last night, the world of entertainment marketing gave us one of the most innovative things we’ve seen in a while after a performance at the Coachella music festival managed to create a frenzied buzz among fans all over the Internet.  During a Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg concert, a 3-D hologram of Tupac Shakur (who died 15 years ago) created the illusion of the legendary rapper performing live.  As a testament to the stunt’s overwhelming popularity, 2pac’s HOLOGRAM had nearly 3,500 followers within 12 hours after his “appearance” on stage…

The Twitterverse (via @msament) presents this week’s installment of Things That Make You Go Hmmmmm:  “Misplaced priorities? KY public colleges fund subsidize athletics by $50M while state cuts school funds by $105M..http://bit.ly/HCr2ah.”

Around the Horn: April 5th

For those interested in Masters social media, the folks at Octagon First Call have assembled a “social media guide” to the 76th Masters golf tournament at Augusta.  Great resource for those who want to follow their favorite golfers or get real-time updates on scores.

Need evidence to support your theory that the NBA loves star power?  Look no further than last night’s highlights of the Clippers vs. Lakers game on nba.com.  Based on the ratio of Clippers to Lakers highlights, one would assume the Clippers won the game (they didn’t).  That said, seeing Blake Griffin dunking on Gasol like that (twice) makes a pretty compelling case for why Kia and Subway seem to think he can help them sell more product.

Brands looking for the next up and coming athlete with real star power don’t need to look any further than Robert Griffin III, better know as RG3, who posted his first tweet to his twitter account this week.  Just 24 hours later, he already had nearly 75,000 followers (and nearly 80,000 at the time of this post).  You think this guy is going to help whichever team drafts him sell tickets?  Adidas also stands to benefit from RG3’s foray into social media because Griffin endorses the brand.  Nike probably isn’t complaining either, knowing the former Baylor QB is likely to sell a LOT of jerseys, and they now have the sacred NFL apparel deal.

Speaking of the NFL’s apparel deal with Nike, I’m still amazed how much hype Nike‘s new uniform “reveal” event on Tuesday generated.  Nobody manufactures buzz like the swoosh

For those wondering how lucrative the digital media market is for the NCAA, AdAge recently reported that digital viewership of March Madness generates $60 million in advertising revenue for Turner and CBS.

In entertainment news, it was announced earlier this week that James Bond (Daniel Craig) will help open the Summer Games in London.  GREAT score for MGM Studios as over a billion people are expected to watch the Opening Ceremonies…

JOB SEEKERS!  Seattle University Athletics is looking for a ticket sales Account Executive & Assistant GM of ticket sales.  For more details, please see the previous post on our blog.

Around the Horn: March 27th

Mashable.com published an interesting story suggesting the Boston Bruins launch of a digital media “network” encompassing all their social media platforms as the first of its kind among professional sports teams…hard to believe that nobody has engaged in a similar initiative before but certainly seems likely that others will follow suit.  Either way, kudos to the Bruins for creating a mechanism that makes it easy for fans to streamline content from their various social platforms.

Tebow Mania is back, just in time to fill the void of over-the-top NY star gazing left by the fading Linsanity.  Immediately following the press conference introducing Tebow as the newest member of the New York Jets, Carnegie Deli (a NY restaurant institution) introduced a 3.5 pound Tebow-inspired “Jetbow” sandwich…the cost?  Just $22.22.

While we are on the topic of food, last year the Texas Rangers rolled out a 3 pound  pretzel as a concessions item. This year, the team introduced a 2 foot long hot dog slathered in chili, cheese, onions and jalapeno peppers, estimated to be between 2,000 and 3,000 calories.  The jumbo dog, called the “boomstick“, comes with a special carrier requiring handles and will set hungry fans back a whopping $26.

More food for thought:  Buffalo Wild Wings‘ stock (BWLD) price was trading at around $85 on March 6th, jumped to $91 on March 14th (the Monday when “bracket madness” began), and closed at almost $95 yesterday.  Savvy investors scooped up the stock for $55 per share back in October.

News from the world of entertainment…it was announced earlier today that all seven Harry Potter books will soon be available in digital format on Amazon’s kindle…how long will it take for J.K. Rowling to shoot up the best seller charts yet again?

Around the Horn: Feb 29th

Looks as if ESPN “likesFacebook…The sports media giant recently re-designed their “Sports Center” page on the popular social networking site as Facebook continues to roll out the new “Timeline” features.  ESPN integrated their ESPN3 video player within the new page and, on Thursday, will begin streaming coverage of NCAA championship week games.  This marks the first time live sporting events will be streamed directly to Facebook.  Is this the start of a new trend?

I wonder how many sports teams are taking advantage of “Leap Day” as a promotional opportunity… Count Minor League Baseball’s Peoria Chiefs as one of those teams.  They are extending a leap year promotional ticket offer to fans, buy four tickets and get the fifth free.  Tweet us @sportsbized or comment below if you have seen any similar offers from other teams.

There appears to be no end in site for the “Linsanity.”  Jeremy Lin has captivated the NBA audience and brands are taking immediate action to cash in.  The Knicks‘ star’s brand continues its meteoric rise in value while the world continues to watch.  Today, Forbes published an interesting piece online, broaching the Lin subject from a little different angle.  The story, titled “4 Lessons Your Business Can Learn from Jeremy Lin(sanity),” is an interesting read, well worth a few minutes of your time.

Around the Horn: Feb 22nd

Nike continues to remain ahead of the curve within the world of digital sports marketing…in yet another great example of the brand utilizing social media as a platform to build buzz, the company recently introduced the Team USA Basketball uniforms on Instagram.

From the Twitterverse…@laureni reports in her feed that the digital consumption numbers are in for the first week Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue’s release and they are impressive…482,000 iPhone app downloads already and 6.2 million visits to the website.

Totally dig this idea idea from Minor League Baseball‘s Fort Wayne Tin Caps.  The team is running a promotion in which they will randomly select a season ticketholder to honor with a life-size bobblehead to be displayed all season at the ballpark…great way to generate excitement at the start of the year while instilling a sense of loyalty to the most important segments of their fan base.

FedEx has apparently agreed to a $35 million per year extension of their PGA Tour sponsorship for five years, minimum value of the sponsorship reported to be no less than $175,000.  Something tells me there were some pretty happy sales folks when that renewal deal was finalized…