It is late summer in New York. People are on vacation, there is a glut of sports news between the NFL, baseball winding down, the US Open, even The Barclays taking the headlines. So if you have an elite high school basketball event, what does one do to cut through the clutter? Location, location, location.
That’s what Under Armour did with their annual Elite 24 – one of the nation’s premier high school basketball events – when they brought it back to New York for the first time since 2009. The game was played in Brooklyn…a good move as it has become again such a hotspot for hoops with the growth of the Brooklyn Nets…but not inside at the Barclays Center or at a college gym where the story would be just about hoops. It was played OUTDOORS on a rooftop under the Brooklyn Bridge at the historic Tobacco Warehouse at night. Televised by ESPNU, suddenly the setting, as much as the talent, becomes the draw. In previous years UA brought the game to other venues like Rucker Park and Venice Beach, known homes for elite talent. However finding a unique venue put the game on a different stage, one that casual fans would notice with imagery that transcended the game.
In the end, the story of the legendary talent that has played in the Elite 24 speaks for itself and will tell a story to basketball fans. However for the UA brand the setting makes the difference in telling their story on a hot summer night, with photos and video that are bigger than basketball, which is the message any leading brand wants to portray. Did it work? While there was some great play as expected on the court, the images were shown around the world, with the bridge as a backdrop on a perfect New York summer night. The images told the tale, which in a crowded environment, is the goal.
Nice score for UA.
Cougars Score With Mascot Promo: With all the talk escalating about payment of college athletes and the use of their likeness, the University of Houston scored some nice points in elevating the assets that they can control this past week. They held a birthday party for their mascot, Shasta, at the Houston Zoo as ESPN’s Darren Rovell pointed out. It was a great way to connect UH with young families and get them interested in athletics at the school, even if they have no aspirations of attending. It makes UH more a part of the community as they transition from a traditional home for their sports to the American Athletic.
However what may be even more important is colleges aggressively using the assets they do and will control…like mascots…to be much more of a marketing tool going forward. The mascot gives consistency of brand and is something that will not change over the years for schools…they can sell the mascot as much as they want without fear of repercussions from athletes who can put a claim in on dollars made off of their name through jersey sales etc. Much like minor league baseball, the mascot becomes the promotion staple without worry of repercussion or building equity in a name or an athlete that can vanish because of injury, poor performance, or in the future, worry about right fees. Taking the mascot to the masses, especially one that is well crafted and reaches a non-traditional athletic demo, is smart business, and the Cougars should get a nice bounce from their efforts.