The “Only in America” phenomenon that is National Signing Day for high school football student-athletes continues to expand both its creativity and largess every year, with The University of Michigan’s all out star studded assault to land a five star class led by Rashan Gary of Paramus Catholic High School in New Jersey and partnering with Player’s Tribune on a multimedia campaign leading the “can you top this” campaigns for this year.
However outside of Ann Arbor there were several other new and noteworthy brand activation platforms that scored both locally and nationally. Here are a few courtesy of our friends at IMG College.
One of the most expansive and well thought out programs for its athletes was delivered by IMG Academy. Their strategic promotions took in every aspect of media and delivered memorable moments for press, the students, the schools they were signing with and for the academy itself.
Among their activations, the academy partnered with Facebook to live stream more than 30 students announcing their commitments and became the first school to live stream a signing via the fast-growing Sports on Facebook platform. They worked with The Players’ Tribune in making Drake Davis the first high school athlete to be featured on the publication, discussing his decision to attend LSU.
The academy also created a microsite, IMGsigningday.com, which tells the story of two students and brought their stories to life with a large amount of content that dated back to their early years, including photos and video.
The two students highlighted included: 5-year student-athlete Michael Cormack (soccer), committed to West Virginia University and 2.5-year student-athlete Tony Jones Jr. (football and baseball), committed to Notre Dame University.
The Academy used a combination of video, photos, and editorial to tell the stories of two students hoping to realize their dream on signing day. And finally, each signing was shared on Twitter with powerful and inspirational messaging through Then and Now photos.
The University of Houston continues to assert itself well beyond any perceived limits of playing in the American Athletic Conference, and signing day was the attest example. Their #HTownTakeover campaign tapped into relationships with Cougar alumni (Andre Ware, D.J. Hayden, and Case Keenum), local pro athletes (J.J. Watt and Dallas Keuchel), and rappers (Paul Wall, Slim Thug, and Z-Ro) to welcome the 2016 recruiting class.
The University of South Florida Bulls celebrated the incoming class with flashy animations and Vines for each recruit, and real-time coverage and reactions from the war room. The coverage was beaming with energy and positivity, fitting for the occasion and setting the tone for the fan base.
While there were many activations big and small that helped schools generate buzz, the uniqueness and calls to action across traditional and new media for these three really came across as noteworthy, sliding in slightly behind Michigan’s massive media grabber. What will be next, and will other sports and schools try and one up each other going forward for creativity and headline grabbing? No doubt. The Wolverines set the bar very high, but there were certainly other new and notable promos to both share, and be looked at as best in class going forward.