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ACC touts its Orange Bowl ties with help from schools

Each of the 12 ACC schools is turning over prime inventory to the conference for a marketing initiative designed to strengthen the ties between itself and the Orange Bowl.

The champion of the ACC has been locked into the Orange Bowl for the last five years, so the relationship is relatively new compared with the Rose Bowl and the Big Ten/Pac-10 or the Sugar Bowl and the SEC, both of which have decades of history.

Through a program called “Represent” that emphasizes the ACC’s tie-in with the Miami-based Orange Bowl, schools will run advertising this fall with their LED scoreboards, websites, game programs and radio broadcasts. The creative is delivered to the schools from the conference.

The value of the inventory differs from school to school, but it’s likely in the mid-to-high five figures for each school, industry insiders said.

“We’re talking about very prime territory,” said Ryan Pensy, director of digital media at Florida State. “But we also understand how important this is to the conference.”

At and many of the other ACC school sites, advertising will run down the side and across the top of the page as well as in the video player. Florida State also is contributing two to three radio spots per game broadcast.

The ACC-Orange Bowl
relationship is young by bowl

Each of the schools also has access to Orange Bowl tickets to use with promotions.

“There’s a real strong collective effort to connect the brands of the ACC and the Orange Bowl so that the public perception is that when you think ACC, you think Orange Bowl and when you think Orange Bowl, you think ACC champion,” said ACC Commissioner John Swofford. “Because our relationship is relatively new, we need to do a little more to connect the brands.

“It simply came out of meetings with the Orange Bowl and asking, ‘How do we enhance the partnership?’ If we’d had this tie for 20 years, the connection would happen naturally. We’re trying to expedite that process.”

The ACC in the past has centered its football marketing on its championship game, with advertising called “The Road to Jacksonville” or “The Road to Tampa,” depending on the location of the game. This fall’s program seeks to establish the link between the championship game and the Orange Bowl.

The seed for the idea germinated last spring, when Swofford called together the athletic directors and multimedia rights holders from each of the 12 schools at the women’s basketball tournament.

Swofford went around the room and asked each AD and rights holder what inventory they’d be willing to offer to the Orange Bowl initiative in an effort to combat some negative trends. The matchups have not been as desirable as some of the Orange Bowl’s BCS brethren in recent years.

Iowa and Georgia Tech on Jan. 5 earned a 6.8 rating and 10.9 million viewers, the smallest audience of the four BCS games. Previous games have matched Virginia Tech-Cincinnati, Virginia Tech-Kansas, Wake Forest-Louisville and Penn State-Florida State. The 2009 game between Virginia Tech and Cincinnati drew a 5.4 rating and 9.3 million viewers, the lowest numbers ever for a BCS game.

The Orange Bowl promotion also is intended to get more fans to travel to Miami. In the past, with the ACC title game being played in Jacksonville or Tampa, a repeat trip to Florida for the Orange Bowl just weeks after a trip to the ACC championship game asked a lot of the winning school’s fans. The championship game moves to Charlotte this season.

The 2006 Penn State-Florida State matchup drew 77,912 to Sun Life Stadium, but recent contests have drawn 66,131 last year and 57,821 the previous year.

“The relationship between the Orange Bowl and the ACC has evolved over the last four years, and every year we’ve gotten more involved with each other,” said Eric Poms, CEO of the Orange Bowl, which will sport a new title sponsor, Discover, this season. “We’re at a level with the conference now that we’re working very closely together. We have a lot of promotions throughout the year.”

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