Despite Digital Boom, Traditional Advertising Remains Key For Sports Organizations Looking To Make A Splash
Despite the increased advertising dollars that brands are now spending digitally, sports organizations and teams are still finding tremendous value in traditional ways to reach large numbers of consumers and fans.
Rutgers’ Brand Statement
In recent weeks, billboards featuring Rutgers University with the tagline, “The Birthplace of College Football” were spotted in Santa Clara, Miami and Dallas, confusing onlookers and social media users. Why would New Jersey’s top public university be promoting itself thousands of miles away in various cities across the country? Some speculated they were placed in cities where Rutgers wanted to recruit, while others were simply just perplexed.
As it turns out, according to NJ.com, the university’s athletic department is promoting the 150th anniversary of the first-ever college football game and its upcoming celebration next season, to commemorate the historic event. The game took place between Rutgers and Princeton University on November 6, 1869.
Due to Rutgers’ recent struggles on the football field, the 1-11 team wanted to remain relevant during this bowl season. The three cities chosen to display the billboards play home to the national championship game and the Orange and Cotton Bowls. Rutgers, not wanting to miss the chance of catching the eye of college football fans nationwide, decided to make a “brand statement” in the midst of the hoopla surrounding the big games, according to their Assistant Athletic Director of Marketing, Robert Roselli.
“The way we’re going to measure it is did we get any media attention out of it? If we do, we’re aware that some of it might come with a little tone of snark,” he told NJ.com. “But at the end of the day, if they’re talking about Rutgers football, it’s a win for us.”
The Scarlet Knights, mindful of its current place in the college football pecking order, had no intention the billboards would promote its actual program, but were really just aiming for a splash.
“Billboards are really a statement,” said Roselli. “It’s in your face, it’s on a road, you can’t miss it. We were mindful of our audience. We know we’re not promoting Rutgers football to residents of Dallas or Miami or Santa Clara. We’re trying to put something in front of the eyes of the national college football media and where they’ll be.”
The Golden Knights Are Vegas Born
The first professional team in Las Vegas is not holding back when it comes to its attention-grabbing tactics. The Golden Knights’ marketing has been well-documented since the franchise’s inception into the NHL in 2017. From appealing to social media-savvy, younger followers, to allowing fans to bet in their seats at home games (given the location) and even creating an inaugural season book with an augmented reality component, only the club’s on-ice performance (one full year in the league and one Stanley Cup appearance!) can match their strategies of keeping fans engaged and attracting new supporters.
With all of this said, out-of-home (OOH) remains a key component to their overall game plan, Chief Marketing Officer Brian Killingsworth told LVSportsBiz. He said the team has strategically placed billboards throughout the city, currently building on its “Vegas Born” mantra.
“We have a dominant static board on the (Interstate) 215 that is innovative in the way we have used gold spangles so when the sun sets in the West it reflects on the board, giving a sense of motion to the otherwise fixed board,” Killingsworth said. “We also have a static board near the new Raiders Stadium next to the 15. We work with our media buyer to identify new potential locations for our messaging and these boards were the two best locations that became available to us at the right time.”
Of course, no organization in 2018 can be solely reliant on traditional advertising – or any specific type of advertising for that matter – but Killingsworth believes the OOH solidifies their overarching approach.
“I think billboards definitely supplement our overall media mix and are great tools to showcase your brand. When combined with a more refined digital and content strategy, they help round out our overall market presence. We are proud of the fact that we are the first major professional team in Vegas and our mantra of ‘Vegas Born’ helps reinforce that and bring it to life.”