Content: The Team’s Biggest Challenge

A nail-biting finish for the University of Tennessee against South Carolina on Saturday. The Vols beat the Gamecocks 45-42 in overtime, clinching their first SEC victory of the season. Although the game was difficult, the team’s biggest challenge happens every day off the field.

Organizations must find ways to keep fans engaged. When a team provides content, it generates attention and fan-interest.

A recent Forbes magazine article highlighted Heineken‘s effort to put an umpire chair in the middle of Union Square. The company had volunteers, wanting to win tickets to the U.S. Open, sit and try to quiet passersby.

Brands such as Heineken can no longer rely on just commissioning stale 30-second promotional ads. They have to stand out by producing memorable experiences—both online and offline—that generate emotional connections and help turn viewers into fans.”

Vettel_Bahrain_2010_(cropped)Red Bull is more than just an energy drink. The Austrian company invests a lot of money in extreme sports, like motocross, snowboarding, and cliff-diving. As one blogger wrote, establishing the brand in sport has been the key to success:

There was a clear niche that they could see in action sports that would tie in with their motto: “Red Bull gives you wings”. The real secret to their domination is that Red Bull haven’t just advertised in this market, they have become involved.”

The company sponsors several athletes and hosts multiple sporting events around the world each year. The brand is plastered everywhere: uniforms, equipment, naming rights, publications, pictures, videos, transportation, etc. Another blogger stated Red Bull is great at producing content because it owns and controls distribution channels:

Red Bull’s content success is largely due to staying ahead of the industry—where and how consumers are viewing content—keeping it relevant, and creatively blurring the lines between advertising and content.”

Screen Shot 2014-11-02 at 9.54.40 AMTennessee Athletics is great at sending out content via social media. When the team is preparing for its next game, pictures are posted on the @Vol_Football Instagram account counting down the number of hours until kickoff. At the end of each quarter, pictures with the score are posted. When it’s a player’s birthday, a picture of them is posted to recognize their special day.

The initiative is highly effective because even the casual fan feels connected and stays informed by simply following the team on social media. When they “Like,” “Retweet,” or “Share” a post, it shows up in their friends’ timeline and grows the audience.


DIRECTV
released a new advertisement over the summer, but it never aired on television. The video of Peyton and Eli Manning rapping about Fantasy Football is a viral hit with more than 3.8 million YouTube views. The brothers also did a video in 2013, which has 8.5 million views.

Brands need to continue to find innovative ways to create content that is eye-catching and entertaining. Earned media is more powerful and cheaper than paid media.

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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.