UNLV Students Find a Creative Way to Market Star Players

In recent years, college athletics departments have become very agressive with their efforts to generate fan excitement during college basketball games. One tactic in particular - Big Noggins (or giant heads resembling players, celebrities, and personalities) has become an instant hit particularly with student sections seated behind the baskets. Fans use the items to distract free throw shooters and add an element of personality and surprise to the game environment.

The UNLV Athletics Department recently took it's men's basketball game environment to another level when it allowed fans to proudly display a mammoth life-sized head an upper torso picture of UNLV star Mike Moser during a game against San Diego State. The branding tactic served as an effective way to add an extra element of surprise to the game and likewise attract the attention of star recruit Shabazz Muhammad, who was seated just a few feet away. 

As teams look for new ways to engage their fanbases during games, notably student sections, they should look to recreate best practices like UNLV's Mike Moser cutout. The branding effectively promotes players and provides some incremental exposure for apparel partners in a memorable, engaging manner!

Check out the stunt below:

Xylobands Bring Live Event Experiences to Life in New Ways

In the next few months, team and brand marketers should maintain a close eye on a growing phenomenon in sports and entertainment - xylobands.

Xylobands are essentially wristbands with LED lights that allow large crowds at live events/shows to simultaneously flash different colors and messages in the air. The xylobands are radio controlled bands that allow event organizers to control when the lights (on the wrists of fans) are lit up at a pre-determined time, creating a pretty fascinating spectacle for fans in-attendance as well as those watching at home.

The premium items have been utilized on the X-Factor as well as on Coldplay's recent concert tour. Event organizers can coordinate for the bands to flash at particular times during pre-game, halftime, and post-game festivities as well as potentially during timeouts in play.

Check out the xylobands in action below:

Properties Take Game Entertainment to New Heights

In today's sports marketplace, properties are expected to deliver a higher quality live game experience for fans than ever before. With new advents of technology, rising ticket prices, and the evolution of the at-home viewing experience, teams are consistently pressured to push the envelope as they look for new ways to create memorable experiences for fans attending games.

In recent weeks, two organizations turned to unconventional game entertainment techniques to engage their fanbases in new ways. Check out the two examples below and consider ways that your organization can introduce new forms of entertainment and excitement for fans!

Atlanta Hawks - Georgia Lottery Halftime Show

The Hawks organization recently partnered with the Georgia Lottery to execute a 3D halftime light show that helped educate and inform fans about their new $2 Powerball game. The Hawks created a 3.5 minute show that was projected on the basketball court floor that created excitement around Powerball in a compelling, non-intrusive manner.

The Hawks leveraged six (6) dancers and two (2) of its mascots to help illustrate the journey of the Powerball through several gaming platforms before becoming a winning number in an iconic lottery machine (per EventMarketer.com). The team worked with BlackOut design and Moment Factory to pull off the stunt - check it out below:

Boise State Athletics - Flash Mob

The Boise State Marketing team recently pulled off a tremendous student section ("The Corral") flash mob performance that generated an elevated level of excitement in the Taco Bell Arena. Students wearing matching orange shirts and blue headwear performed two (2) choreographed dances in unison that took everyone in attendance by surprise.

The cost-effective game entertainment tactic served as a great way for the Athletic Department to generate buzz online (56K+ YouTube) as well as with the Boise State student and alumni communities. Check out the execution below:

Teams Turn to Exclusive Camera Angles To Give Fans Unique Vantage Points of the Action

In recent years, the emergence of social media has placed increased pressures on sports organizations to deliver new, compelling content for fans to enjoy. As a result, many teams have looked to create exclusive gameday camera angles that provide fans with unique vantage points of the action.

Exclusive camera angles are a terrific resource to have on gameday, as they:

  • Provide valuable content that can be sold to corporate partners (especially if a brand serves as the presenting sponsor of the dance team, halftime entertainment, emcee, etc.)
  • Provide valuable content for fans via social media (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter), team apps (mobile), team digital channels (live, streaming content), and inside suites and select stadium destinations
  • Serve as key way for teams to extend the gameday engagement experience
  • Provide access to team and player personnel in new ways

While it's one thing to watch a game passively on television, it's another to experience the action through the eyes of a key stakeholder on-site/in attendance. Check out a few examples of how teams are looking to bring fans closer to the action:

Cheerleader / Dance Team Cam

Tunnel Cam

Bench Cam

Helmet Cam

Mascot Cam

Parachute Cam

Foot Cam

U.S. Olympic Hopefuls Turn to Temporary Tattoos to Generate Sponsorship Dollars

In recent years, Olympic athletes have taken many different approaches to support their training regimens, NGB's, and lifestyle.With the 2012 London Olympic Games less than 300 days away, U.S. Olympic hopeful Nick Symmonds recently set up an auction on eBay that allowed one (1) brand an opportunity to place a temporary tattoo on his shoulder for the 2012 track and field season.

With the auction open for bid by any company/agency, Milwaukee-based Hanson Dodge Creative (HDC) capitalized on the opportunity and placed a winning bid of $11,100 for the rights to place their brand's Twitter handle (@HansonDodge) on Symmonds' shoulder during several upcoming races, including the Sydney Grand Prix and possibly the Olympic Games if Symmonds qualifies.

What's interesting about the Symmonds-Hanson Dodge Creative partnership is that it entails much more than a standard agency branding play. As a leading active lifestyle agency, Symmonds will serve as a Running and Outdoor Active Lifestyle Advisor for Hanson Dodge and will help the agency develop a dedicated Advisory Board. In turn, Hanson Dodge will work with Symmonds to strengthen his personal brand through strategic marketing communications recommendations and drive his business efforts.

The Symmonds-Hanson Dodge Creative partnership serves as a great case study of how athletes (across all sports) are working more closely with agencies and other entities to build their personal brands. While ambush marketing remains a key concern heading into the London 2012 Olympic Games, it will be interesting to see if more athletes turn to similar auction processes to generate awareness and sponsorship dollars. HDC's partnership with Symmonds is very smart, as it serves as a very strong positioning play and will surely generate a return (from media exposure) that exceeds their investment.

Reebok Uses 3D Art to Promote CrossFit

In recent months, 3D art has become a popular, non-traditional tactic for sports properties and their corporate partners to generate awareness in a fun way. As entities continue to mine for new ways to "escape the clutter" on game day, 3D art has proven to be a creative solution that surely generates the impressions that brands are looking for.

Reebok recently turned to 3D art to promote the CrossFit Games, its supported fitness program. CrossFit is a strength and conditioning program and licensor of 3,000+ gyms that is gaining interest and traction with fit consumers worldwide. Reebok partnered with two legendary 3D artists to create the largest ever 3D street art display and set an official Guinness World Record.

The result? Reebok and Joe and Max created a 1,160.4m 3D art display at London's West India Quays, Canary Wharf that generate a significant amount of interest. Reebok turned the exhibit into an engaging display by allowing public onlookers to participate in a Reebok CrossFit workout of the day on top of the artwork - a truly memorable experience.

Check it out below:

MetLife Creates a Memorable Halloween Event for Giants Fans

Holidays throughout the calendar year present an opportune time for brands to leverage their corporate partnerships in ways that truly capture the interest and attention of fans. However, during planning cycles, holidays are oftentimes forgotten as brand marketers focus on activating around key game dates throughout the season - a huge miss. 

MetLife recently did a tremendous job teaming up with Van Wagner Sports and Entertainment to create a memorable Halloween experience for fans attending the Giants-Dolphins game at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, November 30th. MetLife generated buzz around its gate entitlement (the MetLife Gate) by featuring a number of elements and festivities on-site, including:

  • New York State's largest pumpkin (1613 pounds), equipped with MetLife Stadium branding
  • Pumpkins featuring images of the 1986 Giants team (honoring the 25th anniversary of the team's Super Bowl Championship)
  • MetLife branded pumpkins

A special thanks to Peter Honig for his insights and contributions to this column!

Stadium officials also hosted a Halloween costume party at one of the MetLife Stadium gates the week prior when the Jets hosted the Chargers on Sunday, October 23rd. Check it out below:

Adidas Supports the All Blacks with an Impressive Projection Display

Adidas recently demonstrated its support for the All Blacks during the 2011 Rugby World Cup by displaying an incredible team-themed video projection on the back of the St. James Theatre in Auckland, New Zealand. The projection, which incorporated 3D mapping technology, spanned 20 meters high, creating a spectacle that fans could see from far distances away.

To pull off the impressive projection stunt, adidas allowed the team's fanbase across the world to "Stand in Black" and submit photos, videos, and inspirational messages that were incorporated into the display as a fan mosaic.

Check it out below:

Wieden + Kennedy Launch Melo's New M8 Shoe in Epic Fashion

The Jordan Brand recently teamed up with Wieden + Kennedy to launch Carmelo Anthony's new shoe in spectacular fashion along the Hudson River in New York City. The two parties collaborated to put on an M8 NYC Flight Event at Pier 54 that was highlighted by an unannounced projection show alongside a 3-story building that featuring an animated Carmelo Anthony dribbling, dunking, and walking on water.

The Jordan Brand set the stage by having Nas perform a live set for the 2,500 guests in attendance and featured a stuntman jumping out of a helicopter into the Hudson River before Carmelo Anthony's image appeared in spectacular fashion.

Wieden + Kennedy's use of projection technology demonstrates how brands can leverage iconic locations at night in new ways to launch products, conduct guerrilla marketing activity, or make a memorable splash.

Check out the amazing product launch display below and click here for more information:

Bowling Green Unveils Its New Basketball Facility With a Rap Video

Bowling Green State University recently launched its new basketball facility, the Stroh Center, in a truly viral fashion. The Athletics Department turned to a sophomore student named Mikey "Rosco" Blair, a senior gospel singer named Rachel Willingham, and a company called Madhouse Productions to produce an official music video to unveil the University's new state-of-the-start facility in a truly unconventional fashion.

The result? The Athletics Department's loose, creative mentality created a sensational viral video that has attracted the attention of ESPN, USA Today, NBCSports.com, and more. While the video just surpassed the 25,000 mark, it's well on its way to becoming a hot topic of discussion within all of sports.

In the video, Rosco pays homage to several of the school's major donors and philanthropists, all-time legends, and new basketball facilities. The high quality video features several viewpoints of the Stroh Center and lyrics that are simple, yet catchy.

Check out the terrific venue launch video below: