Week 3 of the college football season is in the books, and it’s time for our weekly roundup of marketing and public relations hits and misses! If you missed our previous roundups, check out Week 1 and Week 2.
9/11 tributes around college football
Quite a few schools paid tribute to those who lost their lives on 9/11, some with direct references to the tragic event and others with patriotic uniforms and helmets as they celebrated military appreciation.
BYU, who played Thursday night on the anniversary, had fans create this moving tribute:
BYU Football 9-11 fan card tribute pic.twitter.com/Dbv2U43pIU
— Phil Hecken (@PhilHecken) September 12, 2014
Boston College honored former lacrosse player and graduate Welles Crowther (Class of 1999) who saved at least a dozen lives on 9/11 while sacrificing his own. Crowther’s parents spent some time in the locker room and were brought out on the field at halftime to a standing ovation.
Red bandannas—Crowther’s signature accessory—have become a symbol for Crowther’s selfless act around the BC community, which inspired a giveaway to fans before Saturday’s game as well as the football team’s uniforms:
— BC Football (@BCFootball) September 13, 2014
— Brad Bates (@BCBradBates) September 14, 2014
— BC Football (@BCFootball) September 15, 2014
There were also patriotic helmets for several schools as military appreciation days and related tributes were held around college football. Thanks to Kevin McGuire of NBC Sports for rounding these up:
— VT Equipment (@VTEquipment) September 9, 2014
— UNK Athletics (@UNK_Athletics) August 4, 2014
— Maryland Football (@TerpsFootball) September 9, 2014
Florida’s “Gators Always” campaign
In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a graduate of University of Florida’s law school. Maybe that’s the reason why Florida’s new “Gators Always” hype video gives me chills…but honestly, I can be moved by a good hype video from any school. What I like most about this one is the way Florida has branded around the video with a dedicated website and hashtag which featured tweets from some notable Gator grads, such as the Weather Channel’s Stephanie Abrams and sports reporter Jenn Brown.
Old Dominion wrestling exhibition
We all know it’s easier to get fans to football and men’s basketball games than most other sports (there are, of course, exceptions like Nebraska volleyball, where fan interest is high), which is why I thought Old Dominion’s wrestling team’s plan to head out to Kaufmann Mall before the football game to drum up some interest among the tailgaters by putting on a “Wrestling 101” demonstration was a great idea. Unfortunately, bad weather forced a cancellation. I loved the idea too much to remove it from our list, and I hope they’re able to get it in before another game. I’m also a big fan of the videos by associate head coach Mike Dixon on the wrestling team’s Facebook page—far more exciting than a simple text post.
Rutgers shares photos of fans wearing offensive t-shirts at Penn State game
Most of the “misses” we find every week are honest mistakes, and I’d like to give the benefit of the doubt to Rutgers here. I’m sure their staff only meant to share photos of fans enjoying their tailgating experience at the school’s very first game against a Big Ten opponent since joining the conference this summer. Unfortunately, two photos posted to social media included fans in offensive t-shirts referencing Penn State’s association with the Jerry Sandusky child abuse matter.
Both posts have since been removed, but they highlight the importance of social media training and a strong internal social media policy. (If you handle social media within an athletic department, we’d love to hear from you for our upcoming eBook on these topics.)
Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann has since issued a written apology for all of the offensive signs and t-shirts displayed by Rutgers fans on Saturday.
Texas Tech’s “Blackout” for “Celebrate Cotton” game
Texas Tech had good intentions with its third annual “Celebrate Cotton” game: paying tribute to the West Texas cotton industry. West Texas is one of the world’s largest cotton-producing regions, and the teams’ colors are red and black. Texas Tech has done blackouts before for big games, and last Saturday’s game against Arkansas was a big one. The team was wearing all-black uniforms, so they asked fans to do the same…
The problem was combining a blackout with the “Celebrate Cotton” game. The following tweet from Texas Tech received so much backlash it was removed:
SB Nation has this response from Texas Tech’s associate athletic director/communications Blayne Beal :
“‘Blackout’ games are something we do at Texas Tech. Red and Black are our school colors and a ‘Blackout’ game signals that it’s a big game. And Texas Tech-Arkansas is a big game.
We are wearing throwback uniforms on Saturday for the game and the jerseys are black — so we are asking our fans to wear Black to support our team.
The purpose of the Celebrate Cotton game is to celebrate the cotton industry in West Texas — one of the leading cotton producing regions in the world. This is our third year of the Celebrate Cotton game.”
It was an honest mistake, but given the intertwined history of enslaved African Americans and the cotton industry, it simply wasn’t a good PR move.
CBS replaying the 2013 Iron Bowl during a weather delay
Georgia and South Carolina were supposed to kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, but bad weather that included lightning pushed the game back past 5 p.m. So, the network decided to replay one of the best games from last season: the Auburn-Alabama game where Auburn returned a missed field goal attempt for 109 yards to score the touchdown that sent the Tigers to the SEC Championship game.
Another idea that doesn’t seem bad on its surface. Unfortunately, CBS didn’t do a great job of notifying viewers the game was a replay, which led to quite a bit of confusion.
USA Today featured some of the confused tweets:
Was just asked (in person) at Cowboys Stadium if I had seen the score of the Alabama-Auburn game.
— David Ubben (@davidubben) September 13, 2014
How did they NOT promote this Alabama vs Auburn game? This is a good one!
— Bran Mills (@branmills) September 13, 2014
Does your athletic department need help with social media strategy or developing internal policies and procedures? Check out our new services designed specifically for athletic departments.