you created your own march madness?

(This concept comes from Patrick Walsh’s Sports Management class at the University of Syracuse. The students who presented this idea as part of the “Brand Food University” Program are: Matt Bustillo, Drew Derda, Nick Lowenthal, Edan Michener, Max Santos)

 

BRAND FOOD UNIVERSITY CHALLENGE:

How can a mid-major leverage a tournament run to build brand awareness amongst high school basketball players?

 

SECOND PLACE CONCEPT:

A March Madness Cinderella run wraps up every member of a sports audience in its excitement – players, students, and fans of an underdog team. The immense visibility and coverage an unknown team receives is a perfect launching pad for improvements to their program.

A team that has a surprising run should create a showcase tournament during Spring Break for high school sophomores and juniors. This event would appear to be like the Jordan Brand Classic, The Under Armour Elite 22, or McDonald’s All-American Game. College campuses can host these events and increase their image by positioning themselves next to these top-tier recruits. By leveraging their March Madness success, high school recruits will be more inclined to visit these mid-major schools and play in their gyms and campuses. It also provides them the chance to become more familiar with the school and take it into consideration for their commitment. For their own futures, high schoolers will also be incentivized to participate to increase their desirability to college scouts.

An event like this would drive attention from top recruits, basketball fans, and locals of the area. It also keeps the school’s basketball program in conversation even after its Cinderella Run has ended.

virtual reality is the mid-major equalizer?

(This concept comes from Patrick Walsh’s Sports Management class at the University of Syracuse. The students who presented this idea as part of the “Brand Food University” Program are: Hannah Duncan, Nicole Kittay, Yong Hoon (Bryan) Lee, Jordan Novak, Austin Towns)

 

BRAND FOOD UNIVERSITY CHALLENGE:

How can a mid-major leverage a tournament run to build brand awareness amongst high school basketball players?

 

WINNING CONCEPT:

WHAT IF recruits could feel the experience of a Cinderella run in an empty arena? Mid-majors could use virtual reality to immerse recruits in the tournament when they visit the school at any time of the year. They could put on the VR goggles during tours and see what the March Madness run was like. They could hear fans cheering, see plays, and more. They could feel like they are already part of the team with a view from the bench. As they watch moments from the tournament in virtual reality, their interest in the school could increase dramatically. Even if they did not attend the March Madness games or they did not see highlights on TV, the experience would still feel real. The athletes would start to build brand awareness with the schools because each one would feel different. Each school has a different story, and each Cinderella tournament run is unique and memorable in its own way. Mid-majors could use virtual reality even without a tournament run, but a run would make it even more special. Virtual reality would be the closest thing to actually being on the team that the recruits could experience before they choose their school.

team merchandising had a simple solution?

(This concept comes from Dave Meluni’s Sports Management class at the University of Syracuse. The students who presented this idea as part of the “Brand Food University” Program are: Connor Davis, Dean Vergos, Ben Lehrberger, Robbie Duggan, Chris Nolan, Christian Owens)

 

BRAND FOOD UNIVERSITY CHALLENGE:

How can “Upset U” generate media coverage and drive sales using a single piece of merchandise launched at the NCAA tournament

 

THIRD PLACE CONCEPT:

Underdog U can generate and make national media coverage through one piece of clothing; team-themed bandanas. These bandanas will be worn by fans during basketball games and feature the team color scheme. The bandana will be effective because when the camera pans over to the student section or the general admission sections, the bandanas will be clearly visible whether the person wears the bandana across their forehead, across their necks, or its waved around like a flag. Another key component is that bandanas are not relatively popular among sporting events. It is not a typical piece of clothing fans wear to sporting events, it is an accessory. Therefore, the idea of wearing a bandana to a sporting event will hopefully be associated with Underdog U’s school if it catches on. Production of the bandanas is also very cheap as it’s simply a single piece of fabric that can be sold for much more than its production cost, therefore yielding a significant profit if marketed properly.

you immortalized your greatest alums?

*The following is an excerpt from the book Brands Win Championships*

Number or jersey retirement ceremonies are great for a couple of reasons. First, it gives you permission to reach out to your fan base again while giving families another activity to attend that’s centered around your program. Second, it is very important to keep your alumni involved and feeling appreciated. We already talked about the benefit of professional athletes representing your school and your program simultaneously. The more you show appreciation to your alumni, the more likely they are to turn themselves into walking and talking billboards for you.

you celebrated the preseason?

*The following is an excerpt from the book Brands Win Championships*

Football and basketball are year-round sports for most of the country, which means you can get fans involved in these particular programs outside of the traditional in-season months. Midnight Madness in basketball provides an event outside of the season in which fans want to be involved. Make it an experience, if not for the product on the court then for the families attending. Make it something families look forward to every year. Give people a reason to attend outside of the desire to see next year’s team. The reality is the majority of your fans aren’t hardcore enough to care about a scrimmage featuring next year’s squad; however, if you give them added incentive to attend the event, what happens on the court becomes icing. Think in the same way when it comes to events like spring games in football or recruiting dinners and pep rallies, which cover all sports.

your stadium restaurants matched your brand?

*The following is an excerpt from the book Brands Win Championships*

If you have the opportunity to affect the names of the restaurants in your stadium and the products they’re selling, use them to tell your story. If your program is all about flash, name the establishments and their products something that elevates that idea. If your program is all about being blue-collar, then keep the names within that theme. Have every fan walking around with lunch pails of food and thermoses for their drinks. Have fun with it! It might sound cheesy, but it works. Remember, it’s an experience for these fans and families attending. Every single opportunity to reinforce your message is crucial. Don’t let even the smallest opportunity slip by without your affecting it.

your band is a sleeping (brand) giant?

*The following is an excerpt from the book Brands Win Championships*

Just like your mascot, your band is a walking, talking, and music-playing representation of who you are and want to be as a program. Be mindful of their uniforms; use that space to tell your story. Be aware of their playlist; use those music notes to tell your story. Get involved in deciding what routines they perform and when; use the choreography to tell your story. You get the picture: bands can help you get where you want to go.

you introduced the next “turnover chain”? (part 2 of 2)

Now that you’re on board with the idea of rewarding your fans, WHAT IF the reward actually built the brand? Rather than showering the crowd with free taco coupons (which does nothing for your brand), WHAT IF everyone walked away with car decals featuring your team’s logo on them instead? People love free swag and many will ultimately put the sticker on their car, which is your goal. A fully-branded parting gift to remember their experience in your stadium by. Once again, everyone wins. The fans get a free decal and memory, while the brand earns a new mobile billboard.

you introduced the next “turnover chain”? (part 1 of 2)

Rewarding on-field performance with symbols like the now infamous “Turnover Chain” took the sports marketing world by storm in 2017-2018, but WHAT IF you made 2018-2019 about the fans? Rather than rushing out to imitate the Hurricanes with a forced version of your own, WHAT IF you reinvented the concept and as a result, brought the media frenzy that surrounded South Beach for a year, to your town? Here’s how: there are moments in sports where the fans play a key role. Football has embraced the crowd’s function in the sport perhaps better than anyone. The louder the crowd, the harder it is for the opposing team to conduct their offense. The louder the crowd, the more likely the other team’s players are to move early, triggering a false start flag. And that’s where you come in. WHAT IF you rewarded your fans every time the other team moved early? In basketball, the crowd is often rewarded with free tacos when the team reaches 100 points. Simple execution. WHAT IF you took that concept to the field, only this time rewarding the crowd for their efforts in helping the team win. The louder the crowd, the more flags. The more flags, the more tacos. Everyone wins.