Can “BowlsForBowls” be Bigger?

There is no bigger promotional engine than the one that ESPN has. Once the folks at the hands of the controls get started, the buzz, brand-building and good will that can be spread to sports fans die hard and casual around the world is almost unparalleled. Yes all the other networks can do it well, but few can reach with every medium on a global level as effectively as ESPN.

So it is with that in mind that I took great interest in the Bowls For Bowls promotion the network launched this week. “The Worldwide Leader” visited Auburn and Florida State with Kenny Mayne and made this simple offer: Receive a bowl haircut for a chance to win bowl tickets. The response was tremendous and a great deal of fun, and the video is growing virally. So the question becomes, what’s next? Well…maybe a lot…of hair anyway.

One of the biggest platforms ESPN works with every year is the V Foundation for cancer research. The recently completed Coaches vs. Cancer events are always huge hits and go a long way to raising dollars and awareness to fight all kinds of cancer. Few platforms have been as successful and as innovative with sports fans and charity.  As most know, one of the biggest side effects with cancer is the loss of hair by the patient, and there are countless foundations…Locks For Love, St. Baldricks…that do programs where people shave their heads for loved ones who have cancer, and the hair is donated many times to making wigs or hair pieces for patients.

So why not tie #BowlsForBowls with the V Foundation,  and take the program nationally to every school who is involved in any bowl. The Playoff system next year will amp up the casual interest in the Bowls, and every school and promoter of a lesser bowl is looking for a hook. ESPN already televises most of the system, so finding ways to cross promote could be a natural. How about a sponsor? Men’s grooming products are spending more and more in sports, and even customized hair places like “Sports Cuts” are investing in radio to promo their franchises.  The payoff for those who do the promo could be tickets or other prizes, and a great way to show support for the school and do some giving back.

It all seems like a great way to flow promotion, charity, and brand building into one, all starting with a highly successful launch done this week.

Maybe BowlsForBowl was a one off..maybe it can be something bigger and grander. It usually starts with a simple idea and then it grows. Just like all that hair.

Movember Grows As A Promo…

The gold standard by which charities are measured these days remains the pink campaigns of Breast Cancer Awareness month, led by the yeoman work of Susan G. Komen. However as we reach mid-Movember, it is worth a tip of the hat to the growing work for the “Movember” campaign, which supports cancer that strikes men, especially prostate cancer and early detection.

the theme for “Movember” is to get primarily men (although women can help out with a fake one) to grow a mustache or not shave for the 30 days of the month, and then gain dollars through pledges for growing their ‘stache. The NHL, a league which has created a yearly ritual of not shaving during the playoffs, has joined in en force this year, with “Movember” nights and campaigns around the league, led by the New York Islanders and Anaheim Ducks, whose goaltender Jonas Hiller has affixed photos of all his teammates to his mask this month, all with mustaches. The Ducks’ tie is even more noteworthy since two players, Saku Koivu and Jason Blake, are cancer survivors.

Now “Movember” has its shortcomings; guys have to look a little unkempt in a month not known for vacations, and it is not as easy to activate such a program as it is with a “Wear Pink” campaign. Also other sports, especially Major League baseball, do activate against prostate cancer with blue bats and other events around Father’s Day each year. Still “Movemeber” has a great upside, with the potential of thousands of fake ‘staches being given out at games during the month, maybe even tied to Coaches vs. Cancer events in college hoops. The fake handouts are low cost and would make for great digital integration and TV. Still it does cost money to engage nationally or internationally, and the campaign is growing now with the NHL assisting. It is a fun and noteworthy push for awareness, one which hopefully can gain steam in the coming years for a very noble cause or series of causes.