Vol Nation Tries to #CheckerNeyland

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The University of Tennessee has lost nine years in a row to the University of Florida, but athletic administrators hope that changes Saturday, October 4 with a big boost from Vol Nation trying to #CheckerNeyland.

The idea is to get fans to wear orange and white and create a life-size checkerboard, similar to the team’s iconic end zones. As one fan tweeted:

If the #CheckerNeyland idea actually works, there is absolutely no way we lose that game, in fact, Florida might forfeit.”

DPKTMGFPBHMCSPU.20130822173450The grassroots effort started Saturday, September 13 when the Vols played at the University of Oklahoma. At that game, Sooners fans striped Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium for the third year. Spencer Barnett tweeted a few days later:

If Oklahoma can stripe their stands in shirts, I don’t see why this can’t be done in Neyland….

The idea quickly went viral! According to WVLT, fans and website developers Jonathan Briehl and Tim McLeod created CheckerNeyland.com where fans could type in their section, row, and seat to find out whether to wear orange or white.

UT Athletics got word of the idea and jumped on this collaboration and encouraged engagement with #CheckerNeyland. They tweeted a few days later:

It’s Florida Week! Time To !: , you asked for it! Make it a reality!”

Screen Shot 2014-09-30 at 2.34.38 PMThe school made the campaign a front-page story on their website, posted it on all social media platforms, and sent an email out to students, faculty, staff, fans, and alumni.

The school was smart in knowing it needed to find a way to interact with fans besides just sharing the idea. So, they created Twitter and Instagram images that say “I’m Wearing Orange! #CheckerNeyland” and “I’m Wearing White! #CheckerNeyland.” for fans to post on their own accounts.Byt7ns8IYAI0xgm

The idea not only has the school and fans excited, the team and Coach Butch Jones are also looking forward to it:

Saturday afternoon should be a great college football environment. It should be the best in the country.” 

UT Athletics announced on Tuesday, September 30 that all 102,455 tickets were sold-out. The power of this lifestyle marketing campaign on social media played a huge role in selling all those tickets. Who wouldn’t want to be part of this incredible idea?!

Will all this work prove to be effective? Will this become an annual trend? Looks like we will have to find out on Saturday at noon. If it does work, the school can expect a lot of exposure from the national media sharing the images throughout the next week. If fans are debating whether to go to the next game, they may want to get tickets because it’ll probably be a sell out.

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Get A Grip On Elusive Fans

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There are 7.125 billion people in world, yet sport organizations are finding their biggest challenge is happening off the field. It’s attracting, engaging, and retaining elusive fans.

The National Football League, the National Basketball Association, the National Hockey League, and every other governing body are looking for new ways to attract and engage spectators.

7142709055_434d38d505_zThe two biggest issues: time and money.

Americans only have an average of five hours a day for leisure, according to an American Time Use Survey published last year. If someone wanted to attend a sporting event, they have to take the time to contemplate going, buy their tickets, drive to the stadium, find parking, watch the game, wait in traffic to get out of the stadium, and then drive home. More than likely, they’ve already used more than their five hours at the end of the trip.

Folks don’t have to go to a game to have a good time. There are so many other activities that come to mind: watching a movie (either at home or the theater), going to a concert, going shopping, going hiking, or even catching up on sleep.

Can you tell we live in a competitive environment? Let’s pretend no other leisure activities exist besides sports. There are still soMicrosoft_Mediaroom_Guide_Web many options to choose from on a Saturday: 20 college football games airing on TV, tennis and golf tournaments, racing, six soccer matches, high school events, and at least five other competitions.

Technology has changed how individuals consume sports. They no longer have to sit in a stadium, at a bar, or at home to watch a match up. A guy can be out with his wife and daughter at the mall and watch the game on his smartphone. There is even an option to get live updates through apps.

People know their time is valuable. That’s probably why so many of us don’t bother going to games or even watching them on TV. We just want to see the highlights — show the top three plays and the score and we’ve seen the whole game. Everyone at work is only going to be talking about the big moves, right?

Sports_fans_in_rainFans’ expectations are so much higher than they’ve ever been. No one wants to sit in the rain, the cold, or the heat. No one wants to sit on an uncomfortable bleacher that doesn’t have armrests or back support. No one wants to eat just popcorn and hot dogs — they want sushi and vodka.

We haven’t even talked about the money! When one considers going to a game, they have to be willing to take on an investment. They will need to pay for gas to get there/get home, parking, the actual tickets, food and drinks, and probably some team merchandise. A lot of people gripe about the cost of seeing a movie being sky-high, but it’s a bargain when compared to going to a game!

Some other characteristics that define the elusive fan consist of commercialism, individualism, and changes in family structure and behavior.

It’s hard for sport organizations to understand what channels people are using, and it’s even harder to construct the right message.3286023692_e2440cd688_z Generations Y and Z are perhaps the most elusive. If organizations think they have a problem now, the people born ten years from now with be even more elusive.

These brands really need to focus on what people want, when they want it, and where they want it. Organizations have to tell folks why they need to go to/watch sporting events. What’s in it for me? They need to look for innovative ways to create exclusive experiences. Overall, brands must be strong, communicate with fans, and know what’s expected in order to be successful.

Technology Keeps the NFL Relevant

2208688689_e82d7b2749Football is football. The National Football League has been around for 94 years. The game hasn’t changed much, so why are fans still so obsessed with every play? Technology.

Sometimes it’s the simplest innovations: Spectators feel like they are best friends with their favorite athletes because of Twitter and Instagram. These social network take communication to a new level. Fans can learn about players’ days, see pictures they take with friends and family, and directly talk with them — even if there is a 120 character limit. Social media helps professional athletes come across as more relatable.

Video games like Madden NFL 2015 allow anyone to become a pro. People, mostly young kids, become interested in the real game when they get the opportunity to build a team, learn techniques, and play virtual games.

Fantasy football is also huge! In fact, research shows it cost employers around $13.4 billion annually. It seems some crowds are more interested in their fantasy games than the real ones, but they must watch televised games to get to know the successful players. Folks can participate in a draft, form a team, set a lineup, and either gain or lose points.

Instant replay. Enough said. It enhances the viewing experience, and it sometimes helps determine outcomes.Virginia Tech Vs. Boise State

High definition televisions deliver crystal-clear images that make at-home viewers feel like they are sitting in the stands. Some teams also argue that the innovation has kept fans from actually coming to stadiums. Now officials are looking for ways to entice fans to buy tickets. But you can’t forget the stay-at-home folks are watching all those commercials that help pay the bills.

The way companies reach potential buyers during a game has dramatically changed. In the 2014 pre-season, the NFL introduced virtual on-field advertisements. It didn’t quite work out according to spokesperson Joanna Hunter:

The increasing presence of virtual signage in locally produced preseason games can detract from telecasts and create a less desirable viewing experience for fans. Virtual signage has always been prohibited during regular and postseason games.”

Stadiums are still filled with a ton of ads, which brings in additional revenue. A lot of consumers start to support these businesses because they support their favorite team.

Ever wonder how fast players are running down the field or how much force Peyton Manning uses to throw the ball? The NFL is testing out a player-tracking system this season. Here’s how it works: Sensors are being placed in shoulder pads and yardage sticks. Just another way fans can connect and learn more about athletes and the game.

Technology is the reason the NFL is growing in popularity around the world. League officials will need to continue to look for innovative ways to include the fans who help build the brand.