SBD/Issue 41/Collegiate Sports

Gonzaga Using Interactive Marketing To Sell Women's Hoops Tix

Gonzaga Markets Women's Basketball
With Interactive Web Campaign
After the Gonzaga men’s basketball team burst onto the national scene in ’99 with a run to the NCAA Elite 8, the small school in Spokane has been best known for its men's hoops. But the athletic department this season has launched a new interactive marketing campaign to drive ticket sales for the school's women’s basketball team, which has seen its own share of success in recent years. Created to generate awareness and ticket sales for the women's squad, which has won the West Coast Conference regular-season championship in each of the last four years, uses interactive video technology to entice viewers to purchase season-ticket plans. The Web site asks visitors to enter their name and telephone number -- noting that private information will not be stored and is for video purposes only -- after which a video launches featuring the school’s Spike the Bulldog mascot, the women’s basketball team and coach Kelly Graves getting ready for a game. As the players, fans, coaches and mascot wait for game time, Graves is told only one more person is missing and is handed a clipboard. Several names are crossed out, leaving only the name previously submitted by the viewer. Graves says, “I’ll get him on board,” and pulls out his cell phone to begin dialing. When Graves puts the phone to his ear, the viewer’s phone rings and a message plays from Graves encouraging the viewer to hurry out to the game. After Graves ends the call, he tells the team, “All right, he’ll be here for us, let’s go get ‘em, Zags.” The team then heads out to the court, and the video fades into season-ticket information for the team.

STREAMING SUCCESS: Gonzaga has been marketing the site for the last month via local TV and radio spots, as well as radio interviews and other PR efforts. Gonzaga Dir of Marketing Matt Beckman estimated the school has spent more than $25,000 in total on the campaign, which marks the school's first significant marketing push in support of the women's basketball team, expanding on past TV and radio efforts. As a result, Gonzaga has seen a 45% increase in women’s basketball season-ticket sales, selling around 1,750 tickets this year compared to about 1,100 for the ’07-08 season. “It’s really been a big push,” Beckman said. “A lot of people have commented on the video and some people have said they came in because of it.” Beckman added the Inspired Season site has received about 50,000 unique visits so far, which currently ranks the site as the most popular link on the Gonzaga athletics site. Beckman said the school developed the concept, the school’s first such viral online marketing campaign, based on a proposal by Spokane-based ad agency Magner Sanborn. The agency wrote the coding and software for the site, which it adapted from a similar campaign launched last year by DraftFCB for Portuguese Liga club Sporting Clube de Portugal. Beckman said Gonzaga "definitely" plans to utilize similar interactive marketing initiatives in the future, adding the budget will remain similar for future efforts. “It’s been pretty successful for us this year," he said. "We’re going to put a new spin on it next year. I’m not sure what that is yet, but I’ve got a couple of ideas and I have to see if they’re technologically feasible or not."

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