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Sports & Fitness

Scoring Big With DR

1 Jan, 2009 By: Doug McPherson Response

Hill says UF used the program to E-mail its fans and ticket base information about Southeastern Conference (SEC) championship game tickets (the game was played in Atlanta on Dec. 6). "Our fans could go in and open a link to the ticket sales or call an 800 number," he adds. "Sales became much more efficient, and it was easier for our fans to order tickets."

Another company, Fathead LLC in Livonia, Mich., sells sports-related wall graphics and has licensing agreements with 65 colleges. Linda Castillon, vice president of licensing, says the company's sales have doubled in the past two years.

She credits direct response for some of that growth. This fall, Fathead began airing a 15-second spot on ESPN's family of networks that features an Ohio State University fan putting up a Fathead poster of an Ohio State helmet on his wall when suddenly he's tackled hard by a University of Michigan fan. The spot includes the Web address and toll-free phone number. "The college market is full of rivalries and that generates a lot of emotion — obviously very important in marketing," Castillon says.

Fathead has also amassed 1.4 million sports fans into what's called "Fathead Nation," a group who've opted in to receive Fathead promotions including coupons, sweepstakes information and new products. Castillon says that group membership has tripled in the past two years. "We worked hard to create a much more integrated marketing strategy in retail, online and with Fathead Nation," she says. "We're talking to them [Fathead Nation members] all the time, usually via E-mail and some direct mail."

The company reports that Ohio State generates the biggest revenues. (Fathead is private and wouldn't say what those revenues were, but did say Ohio State generates 10 percent more than its No. 2 moneymaker, the University of Texas.)

In 2007, Fathead began a retail presence, selling in regional specialty stores, college bookstores and directly to past college football merchandise customers. Insiders say royalties from the sale of merchandise typically ranges from 8 to 12 percent for each college.


Game in Their Hands


Mobile marketing has also come off the bench to become a big player in college football. Laura Marriot, president of the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), says mobile marketing has seen an increase "across many sectors ... including sports."

One example comes from AT&T. In September, the communications giant began offering fans a product it calls SEC Mobile, where users got SEC news, games, trivia and contests with SEC and BCS game tickets and other prizes. Dawn Benton, a spokeswoman for AT&T, calls SEC Mobile "a compelling platform to showcase cellular video packages and drive additional subscribers."

AT&T also drove traffic to retailers with SEC-themed events, including appearances by former SEC stars, pep rallies and offers on Samsung products.

In the NCAA's Big Ten Conference, the Big Ten Television Network and Txtstation, a mobile marketing company in Austin, Texas, teamed up for a recent text-messaging promotion. Viewers interacted live by texting from their cell phones with a show called "Big Ten Friday Night Tailgate," where that weekend's college football games were the topic.

The host polled the viewers with questions and the?text messages?appeared on the screen, instant?gratification for the viewer for playing a role in the broadcast. In addition, the Big Ten Network plans to use Txtstation's real-time graphics solution to implement text polling during its broadcasts. "We're able to allow fans to truly participate in our programming," says Michael Calderon, director of new media for?the Big Ten Network.

Another mobile campaign included ESPN: The Magazine, which leveraged print ads to increase traffic to its Web site and offer ESPN sports alerts and ringtones. In 2008, the magazine created an edition with fully interactive advertising powered by SnapTell, which provides image-recognition mobile services.

Readers use the camera on their phones to get real-time promotional information from advertisers by snapping and sending a picture of a print ad to SnapTell. Big name sponsors include Sony, Toyota, Target, HBO, Progressive and Dell.

When readers take a picture, they're entered into a drawing to win a trip for two to Tampa, Fla., for an ESPN Super Bowl party in February. Content includes ringtones, wallpapers, video downloads and mobile coupons.

Mourey adds that with more than 3.4 billion mobile devices worldwide, compared to only one billion PCs, "It is only a matter of time before mobile marketing takes on a more permanent place [with] marketers. Mobile is destined to become the first screen."

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