SCC FFL 2021 Season: Sports Marketing Challenge #1 Scores & Review

It is amazing to see how far our schools have come in this competition from the inaugural fantasy football challenge project seven years ago to today.  Despite the presence of several brand-new schools to the program, every team really delivered in response to the first challenge.  If this effort is any indication of what to expect this season, it looks like the 2021 SCC FFL sports marketing competition will be one for the ages!

For this challenge, we wanted to see how thorough and detailed students would be with the development of a marketing plan for an expansion pro football team. This report included a SWOT analysis, revenue and expense projections, and an economic impact report. We also evaluated responses to our first sports marketing challenge based on creativity, and city/franchise nickname selection.

While everyone came to play, we have a few shout outs for individual teams in recognition of their responses to the first sports marketing challenge of this year’s competition. 

We have a long way to go, however, as this challenge had a total number of possible points of 250.  Last year’s winning team from Blacksburg High School scored a total of nearly 1,500 points.  The competition is wide open after challenge number one!

Blacksburg High School (Salt Lake City Pioneers)

Defending (and two-time) champion Blacksburg High School has set the tone for a run at another SCC FFL title with a fantastic response to challenge #1.  We love the idea of an expansion team owned by women.  According to the Pioneers’ front office: “When choosing our owners we went local and chose Gail Miller and Whitney Herd. Gail Miller was born in Utah and runs over 65 different car dealerships. She is worth $3.2 billion is the former owner of the Jazz, so she has experience in the sports ownership business.  Whitney Wolfe Herd is the founder of Bumble. While the company is headquartered in Texas, Herd was born and raised in SLC until she moved for college. She is worth $1.3B USD and will offer great insight as an entrepreneur and digital marketer.”

Overall, another great start to this competition from students at Blacksburg HS. 

Little Elm High School, TX (Portland Racoons)

We always love the creative energy from Mr. Hutley’s classroom in Texas, and it looks like we can expect more of the same this year from his students.  We loved the Portland Raccoons’ marketing plan, and can’t wait to see what they come up with in the branding challenge.  If the team’s slogan for the inaugural season “All Gas, No Brakes” (according to the front office, racoons are the “All Gas, No Brakes” animal of the forest since they are active day and night) is any indication, this year might be a wild ride!

Montgomery County High School, MO (Mexico City Chupacabras)

Overall, a nice response to the first challenge from students at Montgomery County High School.  Mexico City is a great market, one the NFL is currently focused on developing as an opportunity to grow the game internationally.  Great job researching the city in coming up with a nickname, and really appreciate the attention to detail.  The Chupacabras front office tracked down actual player salaries for this year, managing to build a roster of competitive and marketable players while remaining under the salary cap.  Well done!

Miami Valley Career Technical Center, OH (Miami Valley Aviators)

The Aviators’ front office really impressed with the response to this year’s first sports marketing challenge.  Students from MVCTC went into great detail in researching demographic information, communicating that information with a nifty infographic.  Aviators’ also offered a great look at how the franchise would impact the local economy, again with an infographic to illustrate the plan. Good stuff.

Great breakdown of stadium location and why it will provide a benefit to the city, along with a plan for financing the new facility. We appreciate seeing the detailed revenue forecast, and love the marketing mix application. Some of the “Top Gun” themed traditions and promotions (“Top Gun Award” for the fan with the most spirit will win a game ball signed by the team and the tradition of playing the song “Danger Zone” while the players are running out) could be a lot of fun. Nice job MVCTC!

Waverly High School, NY (Toronto Thundercats)

Students at Waverly High School in New York offered the support for the decision regarding which city would be home to an expansion franchise, offering a variety of details on why Toronto will be a successful market for a new football team.  Take for example the Thundercats’ front office analysis of the current economic climate in Toronto:

  • Gross Metro Product: $72 Billion (annual growth rate of 2.2 percent)
  • Average Household income: $65,829
  • Regional/Metro Household Income: $78,373
  • Average Home Price: Exceeds $1 million
  • Unemployment: 10.1% highest rate in Canada
  • Job Growth: has increased by .5%
  • Cost of Living: Estimated to be 27.4% less expensive than NYC
  • College Educated: 22.4%
  • High School Diploma: 86.3%

We also thought the Thundercats featured the most descriptive SWOT, and a very thorough marketing mix as part of the team’s overall marketing plan.  Very well developed plan by the students at Waverly HS!

Lyman High School, FL (Rhode Island Ragers)

Lyman High School became the first group in SCC FFL history to base a franchise in Rhode Island, an interesting choice.  Given the level of improvement we have seen in this competition year-to-year from these students, it will be fun to see if the Ragers’ front office takes the next step and makes a run at a championship.  If the response to challenge #1 is any indication, we expect big things from Lyman High School this year!

One of the things that really stood out with the Ragers’ marketing plan was the creation of both short- and long-term marketing goals.  Not only were those goals measurable, but they also included a specific action plan for reaching those goals.  For example:

Short-term goals

  1. Sell 100,000 jerseys within the first month of the 2021-2022 season by offering promotions for merchandise on the team’s online shop, along with advertisements for jerseys around the stadium.
  2. Increase social media engagement by 10% each week of the 2021-2022 season by posting at least 5 times a day on all social media, and at least 15 posts on game days.

Long-term goals

  • Obtain 1 million total social media followers across all platforms by staying active on social media accounts throughout the season
  • Gain 30 million dollars from corporate sponsors by the start of the 2022-2023 NFL season by maintaining a good public image while aligning the brand with local business and national corporations

Excellent job by the Ragers front office!

BFA St. Albans, VT (Portland Hurricanes)

We learn something new about a city every year from students as they develop their marketing plans for an expansion franchise in a new market.  This year, we learned the name Oregon is derived from the French word meaning windstorm or hurricane…fun fact and one that offers some validation for the selection of a team nickname.  As part of the Hurricanes’ front office marketing plan, BFA St. Ablans’ students clearly invested a lot of time and energy in researching the Portland market, identifying the city as a good option for sponsorship opportunities as it is home to various Fortune 500 companies such as Nike, Columbia Sportswear, Precision Castparts, Lithia Motors, and StanCorp Financial Group.  Really nice job from these “rookies” who are participating in this competition for the first time!  We look forward to seeing what the Hurricanes front office comes up with for the next challenge…

Green Run High School, VA (Virginia Stallions)

The data uncovered by Green Run students as they researched some financial information to aid in the development of the team’s marketing plan was really impressive.  For example:

  • The lowest paid NFL coach makes close to $5,000,000 a year
  • The highest paid coach makes approximately $20,000,000 per year

The Stallions’ front office used that data to establish an appropriate budget for hiring a head coach in the team’s inaugural season, suggesting they will seek to attract a young but successful new coach with a salary of $8,000,000 per year.

Rather than relying on hypotheticals, Green Run students went above and beyond to learn more about the industry and help them to make educated budget decisions as they created a marketing plan.  That type of attention to detail always lends itself well to finding success in this competition, and it feels like Green Run is well-positioned to challenge for a championship as they compete in SCC FFL for the first time.  Fantastic effort from the Stallions front office!

Grant High School, OR (Portland Pines)

Really like seeing some realistic expectations for establishing first year goals, and appreciate seeing the research that went into the development of those goals.  Some examples:

  • Our goal is to sell out all 60,000 seats at our home games
  • At just under the average number of seats in an NFL stadium, we will present a luxury experience for all fans.
  • For our stadium architecture we will hire the same architects who made the Carbon 12 Condos in Portland Oregon because they are made from new fire-retardant wood (also making the new stadium ecofriendly by using recycled wood, in line with the team’s marketing strategy of positioning the franchise as an eco-friendly destination).

We also loved to see the Pines’ front office create goals relating to viewership and recognizing the importance of streaming when it comes to the new landscape of negotiating rights deals, particularly when determining how the franchise will maximize revenues.  Great job from students at Grant High!

Mount Si High School, WA (San Diego Surge)

In the last three years, Jeff Bezos has been linked to at least four different NFL teams as a potential investor.  Choosing the billionaire as owner of the Surge seems like a great choice by Mount Si students, and those deep pockets could certainly help as the team invests in building the long-term success of an expansion franchise.

Fantastic breakdown of the impact the new team will have on the San Diego economy, and research from the Surge front office helps support those projections (according to the student response to this challenge, on average, each NFL team opens around 3,800 jobs for individuals that work directly with the team).

We also really liked some of the marketing goals established by the Surge front office, offering an advanced look at how an expansion football franchise might approach the development of a marketing plan, including:

  • Generate high-quality leads
  • Maximize consumer satisfaction
  • Develop brand partnerships
  • Increase customer value
  • Improve SEO

Quite a response from another group of newcomers to this competition…very well done Mount Si students!

Helena High School, MT (Salt Lake City Stingers)

Yet another new participant in this competition, Helena High School students knocked it out of the park with their response to the first sports marketing challenge.  Overall, the Stingers front office established some great goals as part of the team’s marketing plan.  Both measurable and actionable, the team has ambitious yet realistic goals for an expansion franchise in its inaugural season in a new market.  One of those goals was to build awareness for the team, with actionable items to generate and grow levels of support throughout the community.  The infographics provided a nice touch!  Great job Stingers!

SCC FFL 2021 STANDINGS AFTER CHALLENGE #1

SchoolTeam NameTotal Points
   
Waverly High SchoolToronto Thundercats250
Blacksburg High SchoolSalt Lake City Pioneers250
Lyman High SchoolRhode Island Ragers249
Green RunVirginia Stallions248
Miami Valley Career Tech CenterMiami Valley Aviators247
Helena High SchoolSalt Lake City Stingers246
Grant High SchoolPortland Pines246
Montgomery CountyMexico City Chupacabras245
Richardson High SchoolSalt Lake City Mountaineers245
Bigfork High SchoolBirmingham Bullfrogs244
Mount Si High SchoolSan Diego Surge243
Woodbridge High SchoolPortland Bears243
Little ElmPortland Racoons241
BFA St AlbansPortland Hurricanes241
Wichita EastWichita Wolves240
Chanute High SchoolAustin Rebels240
Hanford High SchoolSan Diego High Tides240
Elizabethtown High SchoolDover Divas239
Carl Sandburg High SchoolNew York Yorkers238
Lake TravisAustin Aztecs236
Victor J Andrew High SchoolPortland Lumberjacks235
Kellam High SchoolNew York Racoons235
Kent CTC 0
Cazedonia High School 0
West Forsyth 0
Landstown HS 0
Edison High School 0

SportsBiz Madness: 2021 Case Study Tournament (Championship Round)

Thanks to our Judges!

An extra special thanks to Alex Dobson, an executive with DNA Seattle (a Seattle-based advertising agency), and Dr. Jim Strode, Chair, Department of Sports Administration and Associate Professor at Ohio University for helping to evaluate the Final Four round of case study competition entries.  Gaining perspective from seasoned industry professionals and an academic institution with the pedigree of Ohio University offers an invaluable educational experience for our students and our teachers.  The feedback from both (read the post below for more) provides fantastic context for not only the four teams who battled it out in the Final Four round of this year’s competition, but also the students and teachers following along in their own classrooms.

Great stuff. Thank you so much gentlemen!

The Championship round is set!

After receiving nearly 120 entries for Sports Career Consulting’s fifth annual “SportsBiz Madness” high school case study competition, we are left with just two teams.  

For the Final Four round of this competition, our competitors were tasked with the development of a sponsorship activation campaign for a brand recently acquired by Coca-Cola (Body Armor) surrounding the upcoming Summer Games in Tokyo to help the brand gain market share in the sports drink marketplace.  

To find out who advanced to the championship round in this year’s tournament, please read on…

Props to all our Final Four competitors!

Determining which students would advance to the final round of the competition was an extremely tough call. All competitors delivered strategic and insightful ideas, and showed an excellent grasp of sponsorship. As always with these kinds of “pitches,” you’re at the mercy of what the judges biases are or what they are most interested in–which is to say that if you aren’t moving on to the next round, it doesn’t mean your ideas were off target or wouldn’t be effective. The reality is, sometimes big brands get it wrong, or focus on the wrong things. So, just keep trusting your instincts, continue learning, push forward, and get ready for the next opportunity. You should all be proud of how far you have come in this tournament!

FINAL FOUR ROUND RECAP: 

As general feedback, one key critical observation (perhaps a little advanced but something to consider): While the recommendation of leveraging the new Coca-Cola/Body Armor relationship makes a ton of financial sense given Coca-Cola’s scale and budgets (and kudos to GRHS for being up on current beverage industry happenings), a brand like Body Armor will need to be extremely careful just how much they align their healthy and performance-driven product with a product that is considered far less healthy and doesn’t have the natural connection to athletic performance. More likely is that both brands could combine their Olympics budgets, while telling separate stories, to extract more promotional opportunities and added-value from Olympic organizers (i.e., LEVERAGE). Just some perspective on how an agency would likely approach a strategic activation tied to the Summer Games…

Pinelands Regional High School (New Jersey) vs. Green Run High School (Virginia)

The slipper still fits for students from Green Run HS, newcomers to this competition, as they knock out the defending champion Pinelands Regional High School from this year’s tournament! Congratulations to Kerri Sabo and her students at Green Run High, you are moving on to the final round…

Some feedback from our judges:

In addition to presenting a good grasp of the elements that make up a successful sponsorship, Green Run brought a ton of really fun ideas/executions to the table  and packaged those up in a visual presentation with actual content executions (2 videos!) that they went and produced/designed. Sponsorships like the Olympics are incredibly expensive, so exhausting as many activations as possible is important to squeeze the most value out of an Olympic sponsors large investment. 

Some highlights:

  • Local athletic community tie-in with YMCA across the country
  • VR activation and partnership with Oculus
  • Giveaway-Mask with purchase promotion
  • Retail “Olympic Podium,” activation in grocery stores
  • Virtual (and digital invite-only) torch lighting party (and the social media push behind the promo to enhance the activation)
  • Social media activations on both Twitter and Snapchat
  • Bonus points for actually shooting two pieces of video and designing billboards, appreciate seeing the extra effort!

Some opportunities for growth:

Tons of great ideas! A few things to consider, enhancing your proposal:

  • Be sure to proofread for errors, as well as edit so the document reads as if it were written by one voice…challenging given this is a group project, but you want reviewers to easily follow the train of thought, particularly with the challenge of squeezing this many ideas into two short pages
  • Your campaign should start with your target market (those living an active lifestyle), and all
    sponsorship and activation activities should keep this front of mind.
  • It was unclear what differentiates BODYARMOR from Gatorade. It is mentioned that the product is healthier—is this true, and how is this communicated to the consumer?
  • The Walmart partnership is interesting. On one hand, the domestic reach of Walmart is vast—their locations span both urban and rural locations. On the other hand, outside of using Walmart for distribution, a public partnership may pigeonhole BODYARMOUR with the same consumer feelings that are attributed to Walmart (i.e. cheap, discount, low quality, not known for healthy).
  • Expand on the YMCA partnership. Why did you choose them over, say, competitive athletic
    associations, race companies, etc.
  • While I know that Powerade is a soft drink option at fast food restaurants and convenience stores, do you see many people purchasing BODYARMOR to consume while watching a sporting event? Might benefit to share the rationale behind the decision if possible.
  • One thing all the judges noticed…If you’re attempting to activate BODYARMOR, why are you allowing consumers to choose between a free Coke or BODYARMOR?
  • Provide examples of the endorsement roster, and make sure it matches the target audience’s
    awareness space.

Great job Green Run High School students! Can’t wait to see what you come up with in the final round!

Kathy Bennett’s students at Pinelands Regional High School, as always, offered another impressive case study response. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t quite enough to get through to the next round.

Some feedback from the judges:

Tons of great ideas! A few things to consider, enhancing your proposal:

  • As suggested earlier, be sure to proofread for errors, as well as edit so the document reads as if it were written by one voice.
  • The example of The Weeknd performing at the SuperBowl is an example of promotion, specifically aimed at increasing awareness of the musician. The Nike partnership with the NFL is closer to a true sponsorship relationship.
  • Product positioning definition may be off. Emphasize how a brand differentiates itself from another, in this case, BODYARMOR versus Gatorade.
  • What connects the athletes who endorse this product with the interests of the target audience?
  • I like the idea of connecting BODYARMOR to the endorser’s social media pages.
  • I like the idea of connecting the flavors to the Olympic rings, assuming that Coca-Cola has the rights to use this intellectual property.
  • The giveaway promotion with the caps is a throwback idea—by making it easy with registering online, you’re also creating a sizable e-mail database for direct consumer contact (all that data offers a lot of value, can open the door to more effective future campaigns).
  • Sampling is great…however, how will you execute your sample plan in the US and Canada with all the limitations and challenges presented by the pandemic?
  • Loved the Tik Tok challenge and the “In Good Taste” social media ideas—very creative and certainly a strategy that will boost levels of fan engagement.

Really well done Pinelands Regional High School, no shame in a Final Four finish!

Downers Grove North High School (Illinois) vs. Grant High School (Oregon)

Downers Grove North: After several deep tournament runs in our SportsBiz Madness case study tournaments, Downers Grove North managed to hold off Grant High School and reach their first ever finals appearance. Congratulations to Drew Himes’ students at Downers Grove North, you are in the championship round.

Some feedback from our judges:

What really set DGNHS apart in this round was a very robust and holistic set of sponsorship activations that aligned nicely with the Body Armor brand, the Olympics, Olympic athletes, the local host-city, and current world events which positioned the brand as not only (but certainly first-and-foremost) a company rooted in superior performance, but also one that is trying to be thoughtful and connected to the larger world outside of their corporate walls.

  • Leveraging Olympic Athletes via a welcome package of Body Armor goodies
  • Use of robot vending machines in/around the Olympic community and the Tokyo market
  • Light-up bottles for spectators at the opening ceremonies was a brilliant and super creative idea, all the judges loved this one!
  • Bottle cap code promotion and giveaway
  • Use of QR codes-Influencer incentivization
  • “Mask-Up Armor-Up” social media execution
  • TikTok virtual silly-Olympics for the rest of the globe to have fun competing against other fans (could be even more fun if a few Olympic athletes actually participate as well!)
  • Really nice job explaining and defining the sponsorship components. It is clear you have a strong grasp on these concepts which is really the most important thing in these competitions
  • Great attention to detail in not only providing athletes with BODYARMOR gear, but also making sure the product is in many camera shots. Helps to get the most bang for the buck!
  • How do you encourage or enforce BODYARMOUR baths? Smart idea, as it is an ambush play on the Gatorade dump.
  • Are spectators from beyond Japan allowed to attend the games? Did you consider how this could impact your sweepstakes promotion for all-expense paid trips to Tokyo?
  • Sponsoring the media provider (NBC) is also an innovative idea—we’re seeing more of this, as pregame, halftime, and postgame shows have corporate partnerships.

Fantastic job Downers Grove North! Really looking forward to seeing more great ideas in the final round!

Grant High School: It has been an amazing year for Grant High School, “rookies” in our annual competitions who managed a Final Four appearance in the case study tournament this spring AND a runner-up finish in the fall fantasy football competition. What an impressive run and we can’t wait to see if Grant High School students can break through next year and nab that elusive championship trophy!

Some feedback from the judges:

  • Love the logo you presented—shows both unity and acceptance (assuming through diversity).
  • Remember that the audience at the Olympics will be limited, so emphasize how you will reach the consumer through traditional media or other activations outside of Japan.
  • All the judges raved about the idea of the voice controlled vending machines!
  • Why are you selling facemasks? This could be a very simple give-away premium to spectators. No sense running the risk in turning consumers off to the product!
  • Appreciate the focus on sustainability given your target audience including the idea of fully recyclable plastics and biodegradable materials. However, any research to indicate this is an actual possibility? And how might that impact your profitability given how much you will be investing in an Olympic Games partnership?
  • How will your social media campaign (Instagram) target consumers? Through paid promotion?
  • I like the QR code idea—it serves multiple purposes, as it gets consumers to activate with the athletes and you can collect tons of data (an emphasis for any brand)

Overall, really well done Grant HS students. Impressive work!

Congrats again to ALL our participants in this year’s tournament, including everyone who advanced the bracket round of the competition. We look forward to seeing you all again next year!

2021 SportsBiz Madness Case Study Tournament Bracket

Read Across America Day: SportsBiz Book Suggestions

Looking for a good sports business book to add to your library?

In celebration of “Read Across America Day”, I thought I would share a few sports business book recommendations. I tried to limit the list to just ten, including some of my all-time favorite reads. Some of the books on this list are older, some are new. Some provide great sports business insight, others explore the industry’s history, while several offer some wisdom and inspiration.

1) Believe to Achieve

Written by friend and mentor, long-time Jordan Brand executive Howard “H” White, Believe to Achieve is packed with great advice to share with students, and the underlying message in his book is truly something we can all benefit from.

2) Ice to the Eskimos

One of the most creative and innovative sports marketers in history, Jon Spoelstra’s first book remains a classic. Jon is also recognized as an “industry pioneer” in our textbook, and Ice to the Eskimos is full of examples of his influence on the business of team sports.

3) Shoe Dog

Shoe Dog is the autobiography of Phil Knight, the founder of Nike. It features great insight into the creation of one of the biggest brands in the world.

4) The Elusive Fan 

The Elusive Fan is a fantastic sports business book that examines the challenges facing marketers as they work to attract the attention of fans in today’s cluttered marketplace. 

5) Sneaker Wars

Well before Phil Knight was selling sneakers from the back of his car, two brothers built a shoe company in Germany. Nearly twenty years after the company was founded, the Dassler brothers had a major falling out. One brother started a company called Adidas, the other brother started a company just across the river called Puma. The two brands remain rivals to this day.  

6) Let Me Tell You A Story

This is an older book that I borrowed from a friend (and die-hard Celtics fan) a few years ago written by legendary Boston coach Red Auerbach. Much of the book is about basketball, but what struck me was how innovative Coach Auerbach was when it came to finding creative ways to get fans to come out to the arena for a game. Lots of anecdotes with historical relevance in this book.

7) The Red Rubber Ball

The Red Rubber Ball isn’t necessarily a sports or sports business book, but it was written by a former Nike executive. Kevin Carroll essentially took the spirit of recess and turned it into an influential message that has inspired millions of people around the world. I would strongly recommend this quick read for both teachers and students.

8) Go for the Magic!

A good friend gave me his copy of basketball Hall-of-Famer Pat Williams’ book, Go for the Magic, when I began my career working in professional sports. I have since read dozens of books written by Mr. Williams (all are excellent), but this remains my favorite. 

9) Mamba Mentality

In Mamba Mentality, the late Kobe Bryant shares fascinating insight into the determined mindset that fueled his legendary work ethic, and ultimately helped him to find success both on and off the court.

10) ESPN: Those Guys Have all the Fun

I love to read books that explore the beginnings of game-changing brands like Nike, adidas, Gatorade etc. Years ago, I read Creating an Empire: ESPN by Stuart Evey, one ESPN’s original investors and it was great. James Andrew Miller’s ESPN: Those Guys Have all the Fun takes readers from the company’s roots to the present day (well, 2011), even exposing some of ESPN’s past shortcomings from a corporate culture perspective.

Bonus: Veeck as in Wreck

Bill Veeck, otherwise known as the Godfather of sports marketing, is an absolute legend in our industry. Credited with creating some of the most famous (and infamous) promotional stunts, Veeck literally wrote the playbook for how sports teams would eventually craft marketing plans dedicated to attracting fans to stadiums all over the world.

Enjoy!

Chris

Super Bowl LV Promotions Student Competition – Winning Entries!

Before we announce the winners, we would like to give a big thank you to Alex Dobson of Audible Design, a long-time advertising industry exec, for sharing his marketing expertise and helping to judge our Super Bowl LV student competition. Thank you for your time and feedback Alex!

In conjunction with Super Bowl LV, Sports Career Consulting hosted a student competition with a focus on developing a fundamental understanding of the concept of promotion. Students were tasked with the development of a point of purchase display representing a consumer goods brand tied to Super Bowl LV. The contest drew over 100 entries and we saw a lot of impressive ideas. Overall, the effort students put into this competition was more than evident. Props to all those who participated!

OVERALL FEEDBACK:

Selecting our three winners proved to be quite a challenge, with so many students demonstrating an exception grasp on key competition elements like promotion, retail, store placement etc. and the creativity (many students made real-life models of point-of-purchase displays) was fantastic and fun to see. That said, we felt that three students managed to create a display and promotion concept that really stood out. The top three entries submitted ideas that were not only creative, but offered strategies that would most certainly lead to an increase in product sales.

WINNERS:

First Place: M. Wozniak (Tappan Zee High School, New York)

Congrats to Ms. Wozniak at Tappan Zee High School in New York for winning SCC’s Super Bowl LV Promotions Competition! Some highlights from her point-of-purchase display:

  • Super concept for a POP display, love seeing a different approach to building a display using product…typically, you’ll see a grocery display spelling out the words “Super Bowl” or the names of participating teams. Ms. Wozniak’s idea levels that concept up by building a locker room featuring product. We can imagine it being an awesome experiential display to walk through, and something that would most certainly attract the attention of shoppers leading up to the big game.
  • Of course, it isn’t just about the display… We really liked the product integration with soda boxes for columns, and chips integrated into the locker stalls. At the end of the day, the success of a promotion is measured by sales so it was great to see Ms. Wozniak keep her eye on the prize, so to speak.
  • Also thought it was a fantastic idea to include an “enter-to-win” element to elevate the level of consumer engagement by giving away the displayed jerseys
The winning entry in the Super Bowl LV promotions competition from a student at Tappan Zee High School in New York features a locker room, recreated using soda cans and bags of chips

Second Place: D. Vu (Justice High School, Virginia)

Congrats to Mr. Vu at Justice HS in Virginia for taking second place in SCC’s Super Bowl LV Promotions Competition! Some highlights from his point-of-purchase display:

  • Bringing coffee (and Starbucks) into the football conversation? Loved it. We appreciated the recognition that brands other than the obvious (snack foods, soda, TVs etc) can benefit from aligning a promotion with the big game.
  • We thought it was a really smart idea to include collector’s edition Starbucks football helmets as part of the promotion, certainly an aspect of the promotion that would garner consumer attention! The addition of an “enter-to-win” promotion would definitely boost levels of engagement as well.
  • Really nice job from Mr. Vu explaining the importance of where the promotion would be placed in the store, one of the key components of this competition.
  • Food for thought to take it over the top next time: Perhaps specially flavored/named drinks for the teams or players would add even more sizzle to the promotion? (The original Starbucks in Pike Place Market in Seattle sold a special Beast Mode coffee drink when he played with the Seahawks)
The competition runner-up approached things from a non-traditional angle, opting to create a promotion at a Starbucks location inside a grocery store rather than a chips, soda, TV or other popular Super Bowl product

Third Place: L. Miller (Hinsdale Central High School, Illinois)

Congrats to Ms. Miller at Hinsdale Central HS in Illinois for her third place finish in SCC’s Super Bowl LV Promotions Competition! Some highlights from her point-of-purchase display:

  • We loved the overall integration of a “concept” to Ms. Miller’s entire display, based off the storyline of the game Brady (“classic” old guy) vs. Mahomes (the “young” guy and future of the league) that had media outlets around the world talking…great way to tap into the added buzz to benefit the brand!
  • Aligning specific products to those players (Brady-Classic Doritos vs. Mahomes – Newest flavors) was a nice touch.
  • We absolutely loved the tagline: “Craving a taste for something new, or stick with what you love? We have both!”
  • As was the case with all three finalists, Ms. Miller demonstrated a solid understanding and explanation of the important role placement of the display within the store plays in boosting product sales
Third place in the competition went to a student who developed an “old vs. new” theme for her display, capitalizing on the hype surrounding the older QB vs. the new QB to launch a new flavored product

Congrats again to all three of our finalists! We have prizes coming your way!!!

HONORABLE MENTION (ALEX’S A.C.E. AWARDS: AWESOME CREATIVE EFFORT):

E. Tavares – Tappan Zee HS, New York

We really liked the potential of Mr. Tavares’ idea of bringing the iconic M&M’s characters to life in stores leading up to the Super Bowl. No doubt the promotion would turn some heads as customers enter the store. We would have loved to see you take things a step further…potentially outfitting the characters in Tampa or KC jerseys, maybe even partnering with a personality like Gronk to create a new character, even holograms of characters could be really cool! Either way, great concept, super creative. Well done Mr. Tavares.

Kent CTC students – Michigan

Props to students in Kent Helfrich’s class for taking the time to put together a YouTube video! We appreciate the effort that went into that and really like the idea of stop motion video to attract the attention of consumers. Also appreciate the recognition of the short attention span of shoppers, making a quick six second video clip to grab the attention makes a ton of sense. Really creative and very well done!

A. Payne – Tappan Zee HS, New York

Wknd chillin’ in his pool enjoying his moment on the big screen? Awesome. Definitely one of our favorites in this competition. Nice job Ms. Payne!

T. Wagner – Foster High School, Texas

Clearly Mr. Wagner put a lot of time into the project…check out his REAL display using Coke and Sprite products!! Super impressive.

Pine Island students – Minnesota

Students in Nicole Rusch’s class created one of the better visuals for a POP display in this competition, really appreciated the attention to detail…nice job incorporating the “LV” into the display…would have been cool to see something extra with the goal posts at a supermarket…maybe a chip brand that is part of PepsiCo portfolio etc. Nice work though!

T. Nordberg – Foster High School, Texas
T. Tobin and D. Handelman – Tappan Zee High School, New York

Two entries from different schools had the same brilliant idea by creating a life-size version of both Super Bowl QBs using bags of potato chips…so awesome. Great idea if you can pull it off!

A student from Foster High School in Texas recreated this iconic Patrick Mahomes pose using bags of Tostitos, salsa and chips
Students from Tappan Zee HS in NY planned to create life-size replicas of both Super Bowl QBs using bags of Doritos as the jerseys

Subway once recreated the likeness of former Heisman winners Robert Griffin III and Marcus Mariota using bread, cheese and cold cuts, so why not a Brady or Mahomes statue made of bags of chips?? Love the creativity.

Subway created a likeness of former Heisman Trophy winning quarterbacks Marcus Mariota and Robert Griffin III using the restaurant’s bread, cheese, veggies and meats

NBA Ticket Prices (Infographic)

Of all the functions of marketing, one could arge the establishment of an effective price point could be the most critical.

Teams across sports consistently tinker with pricing strategies in an effort to find the right formula for maximizing franchise revenues.  Sometimes those strategies work, sometimes they backfire.

Two seasons ago, the New Orleans Pelicans dropped ticket prices by 10%.  The decision resulted in a 19% overall increase in ticket sales that season.  And this season, as the Brooklyn Nets face the prospect of a challenging season on the court, Bloomberg has reported the franchise will reduce ticket prices by an average of 24% in 2016-17.

Earlier this year, BusBud published an interesting infographic that examines NBA ticket prices and offers some interesting comparisons.  Which teams offer the greatest ROI?  When is the best time to buy?  These questions and more are discussed in the graphic below.

 

How College Sports Fans Engage (Infographic)

What is Fan Engagement?

As the business of sports and entertainment evolves, marketing professionals are continuously searching for ways to cater to the changing dynamics of fandom.  Today’s fan craves not only more access but immediate access.  For sports marketers, this is a good thing, but it does not come without its challenges.

In a landscape that now features more sports and entertainment options than ever, building a relationship with fans becomes critical for sports or entertainment properties.  This is where fan engagement comes in.  Whether through specific promotions, social media or game day experiences at the venue, engagement efforts help sports and entertainment properties build and maintain interest in their product.

Like any successful business, properties like the NCAA and its affiliated athletics programs must have a feel for consumer behavior.  Understanding how fans are engaging will ultimately help them create successful strategies for reaching and interacting with consumers.

Engaging College Sports Fans (Infographic)

GoHopscotch.com recently published some interesting statistics that shed some light on how college sports fans engage.  According to the study, fans are twice as likely to watch games on TV than attend in person and Facebook is still their social media platform of choice.  HopScotch created an interesting infographic that shares some of this data and is also offering a free e-book for download that compiles the survey results.  Click here for a link to the HopScotch website.

 

Business Blitz: The 2016 NFL Draft

You have to give credit to ESPN and the NFL.  Over thirty five years ago (the original plan to broadcast the draft was hatched in Bristol back in 1980), most people thought televising the draft was a crazy idea.  Critics suggested the draft was unwatchable, especially as an all-day event.  Even those who supported the idea did so with little confidence.  Fast forward to today.  This year, ESPN will spend three days covering the draft, all during prime time. The NFL Network also broadcast the event live.  Coverage has even expanded to the combine.

How far has the event come?  Check out this footage from the 1981 NFL draft by clicking here.

As the event grows, so do the marketing opportunities for brands to connect with fans. Here are some news and notes from a business perspective surrounding this year’s NFL Draft.

ENDORSEMENT DEALS

Imagine paying hundreds of thousands of dollars (millions in some cases) to an athlete who has yet to play a single NFL snap. That’s precisely the position many brands are in leading up to the NFL Draft. Which athletes might best represent their values while helping to sell more products and services? Is the investment worth the risk? Two years ago, Nike shelled out a significant amount of money to sign Johnny Manziel. The company recently parted ways with the embattled former A&M star after repeated off the field incidents and a lack of productivity on it.

Here is a quick look at a few deals that were inked prior to the draft.

New Era’s “Risky” Pick

New Era signed a deal a few years back to become the “official hat” of the NFL, a shrewd move, particularly on draft day when their product is given to EVERY player picked in the first round of the draft, particularly when you consider how much coverage the event now attracts. This year the brand signed a couple of individual players to endorsement deals leading up to the draft. One presents a sizable risk.

Click here to read the story from forbes.com.

MET-Rx

MET-Rx, the sports supplement company, signed Ohio State defensive star Joey Bosa (who was selected ). What makes this deal unique is the brand’s strategy for how they will leverage the relationship as they plan to go “all in” on Bosa as he becomes the face of the company when they “re-launch” the brand and unveil new products.

Click here to read more from cleveland.com.

“Historic” Signing for Zappos

Zappos, the online shoe retailer, made headlines earlier this month when it was announced that they signed Notre Dame star Ronnie Stanley. Because Stanley chose to sign with a retailer and not endorse one specific brand, he will have the option to wear whichever shoe he favors next season.

Click here to read more from dailydot.com.

Nike’s Aggressive Approach

Nike was extremely aggressive in their efforts to ink NFL prospects this year, signing FIFTEEN players before the first name was called on Thursday. Eight of those players were selected in the first round. By comparison, rival Under Armour had only inked one endorsement deal with a draft prospect.

Nike welcomed several players with brief commercials (click here to see some examples from news.nike.com).

Click here to read the entire story on bloomberg.com.

Gone but not Forgotten

Gatorade rolled out a tribute campaign to Peyton Manning on draft day (good timing). In a clever commercial that features everyone from Derek Jeter to Manning fans, his brother and his father, the brand is likely strategically reinforcing Manning’s “good guy” image to maximize the value of their relationship with the now-retired star QB.

Click here to view the spot.

Is Jared Goff the “new” Peyton Manning?

While Denver may have drafted Paxton Lynch as Peyton Manning’s replacement at QB, former Cal QB Jared Goff played the part of pitchman extraordinaire in a series of tweets on draft day with shout outs to a number of brands including Gillette, Tide, Pantene, Red Bull and Microsoft.

 

 

While Jared Goff was cashing in on social media, one prospect’s Twitter account was allegedly hacked just prior to the draft and a picture was posted with him using marijuana. As a result, Ole Miss offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil watched his stock tumble, eventually being selected 5-10 places later than where he was projected. The difference in contract values from being picked #6 overall from #13 where he was picked? Nearly $8 MILLION. That doesn’t even factor in any national or local sponsors who are unlikely to consider him for endorsement deals.

Click here to read more from cnbc.com.

“DRAFT TOWN” IN CHICAGO

Chicago rolled out the red carpet for the NFL as this year’s host city, turning Grant Park into “Draft Town” for three days of events for fans. According to the Chicago Tribune, the “Draft Town” area will cover the equivalent of 20 football fields with attractions, displays and hands-on activities.

Click here for some visuals from chicagobusiness.com and here for a “Draft Town” slideshow from wgnradio.com.

Sponsors

Everything from a new NFL-themed Ferris wheel to Selection Square will be branded by sponsors at the draft in Chicago. A total of 38 brands will have a vested interest in seeing this year’s draft-related events be a success, including Skittles, Dannon, McDonald’s, Visa & Hyundai.

Click here to read more from chicagotribune.com.

Economic Impact

Last year over 200,000 NFL fans visited Chicago for draft related festivities. According to a report from Temple University’s Sports Industry Research Institute (via foxbusiness.com). The result? An estimated $81.6 million in total economic impact for the area.

The report also suggested that last year’s event created more than 2,000 temporary jobs and more than 800 permanent jobs.

NFL DRAFT TV AUDIENCE

ESPN’s day one coverage of the NFL Draft saw a double digit drop in viewership with a 10% decline. It was, however, still the highest ratest program on cable television for the night.

Some speculated the ratings might enjoy an increase with the boost in draft day interest within the LA market as the re-located Rams held the #1 overall pick. However, LA wasn’t even a top ten market in terms of TV ratings. Here are the highest metered markets for Thursday’s coverage:

1. Cleveland (13.3)
2. Columbus (13.1)
3. New Orleans (7.8)
4. Dayton (7.7)
5. Birmingham (7.5)

OVERALL, ESPN and ESPN2 actually enjoyed a slight bump in overall audience from last year with an average of nearly 3 million viewers across three days of coverage making the 2016 NFL Draft the 7th most-viewed draft since 1994.

BEHIND THE SCENES W/ ESPN

Coverage this year also brought an interesting twist with the situation involving prospect Laremy Tunsil’s “hacked” Twitter account.  Much has been made of how ESPN handled the situation during the broadcast.  Sports Illustrated shares a “behind the scenes” look at exactly how things transpired…

Click here for the “Behind the Scenes of NFL Draft Coverage” story from si.com.

INFOGRAPHIC

NFL players make a ton of money coming into the league, but when you’re a top draft pick, the amount of money to be made is unimaginable.Often, one of the first major purchases a highly paid athlete will make coming out of college is a home. In many cases, NFL players relocate from where they went to college to their team’s city or state.

Click here to view a larger image on SCC’s Pinterest page.

 

The Best Grilled Cheese In Sports

In honor of today’s celebration of #NationalGrilledCheeseDay, we thought it would be fun to look at which teams offer a grilled cheese item on their concessions menu.  The task was surprisingly challenging as grilled cheese apparently isn’t considered much of a ballpark staple, despite the current trend of creating eclectic food items at sports venues.  It should also be noted that we haven’t actually tried any of these, so the ranking is rather arbitrary.

That said, here are the top five best grilled cheese sandwiches in sports…

Honorable Mentions:

Montgomery Biscuits – “The Gump”

While the  Biscuits actually offer FOUR variations of grilled cheese sandwiches, our vote goes to “The Gump” which incorporates pork shoulder, BBQ sauce, coleslaw, “candied red onions” with pepper jack cheese to provide some zip on sourdough bread.

Chicago White Sox – “Avocado Bacon Grilled Cheese”

Thanks Night Train Veeck for the heads up…avocado and bacon added to a grilled cheese sandwich?  Sounds delicious!

Round Rock Express – “Grilled Cheese Dog”

What says baseball more than hot dogs, peanuts and cracker jacks?  While The Express’ unique spin on a grilled cheese might not contain the peanuts or cracker jacks, but it has successfully combined the hot dog with a traditional, down home comfort food.  According to Minor League Baseball’s website, the “Grilled Cheese Dog” is made with a quarter-pound of Nolan Ryan’s 100-percent hand-selected All Natural Grass Fed Beef wrapped in a grilled cheese sandwich then skewered.  A true Texas delight.

Continue reading

For Comparison’s Sake

Obviously a lot has been made of Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe’s critical comments of the UConn Huskies women’s basketball program.  The suggestion that their dominance was actually “bad” for the women’s game stirred quite a bit of controversy.  Not that it bothered the UConn women as they steamrolled their way to a historic 4th consecutive championship.

While comparing Husky women’s program to some of the blue blood men’s programs like Duke, Kentucky or North Carolina may prove to be unfair, comparing their impact to a rising power in the men’s ranks might provide a little perspective as to how valuable the UConn brand is to the women’s game.

In a totally unscientific, random but fun exercise, let’s use the Oregon Ducks as an example.  The Ducks earned a #1 seed in the men’s tournament while the Huskies were awarded a #1 seed in the women’s tournament.  Seems like a good place to start, no?

Continue reading

Infographic: How are sports marketers targeting the female demographic?

Lately sports marketers have not been shy in their efforts to target female fans and for good reason.  Women now constitute at least 30% of the fan base for all of the “big four” professional sports leagues in the U.S. and 46% of Super Bowl viewers were female.

To provide a closer look, the fine folks at UNC Kenan-Flagler’s Business School put together a fantastic infographic offering a quick look at ways brands are working to engage female fans.  For more analysis, check out this story on forbes.com from Kristi Dosh (and follow her on Twitter @sportsbizmiss).