As we hit the final day of winter, not to mention St. Joseph’s Day (also underrated as a holiday everywhere except Italy and Brooklyn) some good items and thoughts from over the weekend.
Warriors Count It Down: Monday night the Golden State Warriors will retire Chris Mullin’s Number 17 jersey and they have done a good job in extending the promotion beyond the window of those attending. Their “17 Days of Mullin” provided a sponsored (Cashe Creek Casino Resort) daily giveaway of everything from Bobbleheads to tickets to memorabilia, all fun and inexpensive. Their social media outreach during the period highlighted Mullin facts and tied promotions for followers to the night. Their website outreach is also all things Mullin, giving fans from around the country the opportunity to participate and make the night bigger than most retirement ceremonies. Very worthy for a Hall of Famer and for a team that looks for ways to grow regardless of what happens on the court. They found low cost ways to elevate the ROI for a sponsor as well, which is always helpful and shows the synergy between the business and communications side, with a little new media thrown in. Well done and well thought out and lots of fun.
NIT As A Value: For many fans, the National Invitation Tournament has been an afterthought for about 30 years. However since taking it over, the NCAA has tried to give the second tier event more value by adding in the winners of regular season conferences that get shut out of the NCAA Field, as well as rewarding bubble schools for a strong season. The scheduling is always tough given the fact that schools host many times during spring break and have to find alternative venues as well. However there is great TV exposure via ESPN and the pitch that the NIT remains an entree for younger teams to continue on. The event has structure unlike the pay to play events called the CBI and the College Insider.com, which have never found their footing in the mainstream for anyone outside of the participants. So what else can the NIT do to gain interest? How about sponsor activation trials? the NCAA Tournament is big dollars and pristine environs, how about finding growing companies looking to activate in the space, especially digital brands, that would be interested in unique promos at each site? At one point the NIT used a red, white and blue ball, could a subtle rule change be tested? How about a large scale charity component that could bring attention to the semi-finals and finals at MSG? Can there be a fan opt-in contest to select best plays, promotions or locales? Also could the finals and semi’s be shifted to a smaller venue to draw more bodies, even replicating post-season conference tournaments where the higher seed hosts? The lure of coming to New York is great, but there may be plenty of other places to out the NIT to give it more pop. It remains a worthy tournament for its participants, now it needs to be more relevant again to the marketplace.
Mickey Mouse Soccer: Monday Serie A powerhouse AS Roma announced a deal with Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex to be their winter training home, and to work on youth soccer partnerships. It is another sign that the commercial marketplace is growing for soccer, not just for MLS but for the world’s greatest clubs as well. The recognition and brand value elite clubs can leverage in the United States with fans and brands looking to get involved continues to elevate, and the move by Roma is the first, but certainly not the last, by some of the greatest teams in the sport to grab American dollars and marketshare. Smart move by the club and anothe good move by Disney to elevate the profile of what was at one point a blight on the company landscape, but has now become a great strategic sports destination.