Last week a lot was made about the death for Heisman promotional campaigns. No More Joey Harrington on NYC billboards, “Johnny Football” has ruined the process etc etc…and after all we are on TV too much to make a difference. Well what if you are NOT on TV every week and want to make a difference.
See Northern Illinois and Kent State, two schools that are showing support and drumming up support for two of their guys through…fun promotions. The MAC is great football, great mid-level exposure which sneaks into the BCS mix from time to time like it did last year, but it is still nowhere near the exposure level of the mega-conferences (American Athletic take notes here on promotion).
NIU has launched the JordanLynchfor6.com, for their star back Jordan Lynch. Lynch wears No. 6, scores a lot sending specially made “Lynch for 6” notebooks and mini-coolers that have the coolest name going: The Lynch Box. Once the season starts, fans can submit questions for Lynch to answer during “Lunch with Lynch,” a web show that started late last season and has also been beefed up for this year.
Then KSU has 5’8, 175-pound back Dri Archer, who scored 23 touchdowns and threw for one to shatter the school’s single-season record. He set another school record by producing more than 2,500 yards of total offense. His Heisman campaign website can be found at Dri4Heisman.com and is highlighted by a digital comic strip, “The Archer,” illustrated by Kent State alum Chuck Ayers, illustrator of well-known comics Crankshaft and Funky Winkerbean.
Northern Illinois running a Heisman campaign at an estimated cost of $3,000-5,000 and Kent spending virtually nothing are very smart ideas. They can garner ancillary support for the school, send the message that the programs will do whatever they can to proactively promote their athletes, and they know how to use the tools at hand to be creative. The programs are also fluid, highly social and concentrate on the digital space while garnering appeal from traditional media as well.
Will they work? The fact that they are already getting media coverage that normally would not have been there shows that the appeal is smart and very much needed. Getting to the platform in New York in December is a different story, but telling the story in advance…which is what smart communicators are supposed to do…is the battle worth fighting for mid-majors and up and comers, and that type of promo is still very much needed and appreciated by those involved.