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Volume 21 No. 17
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Michigan unites behind #CrashCrisler effort

When the University of Michigan women’s basketball team cracked the top 25 last season, it was a momentous occasion. The Wolverines had not been ranked in four years.

To build on the momentum of Michigan’s season, the social media team and ticketing office joined forces to sell out a women’s game at Crisler Center for the first time in school history. They called it #CrashCrisler — graphic designs and messaging that highlighted the team began flying across the Wolverines’ social media channels with links to the athletic department website or the ticket-buying page.

Michigan’s women, even with the roll they were on, drew between 2,000 and 3,000 fans for home games, so the idea of selling 12,000-plus tickets was daunting. The ticket office created special discounts for university employees to spur sales.

Keith Bretzius, Michigan’s digital director, and Brian Wagner, who oversees social, created a schedule of promotions on Michigan’s social media channels to rivet interest for the game against rival Michigan State. They needed plenty of lead time to spread the word about #CrashCrisler, but the danger in that was if the team went on an unexpected losing streak.

To broaden the audience, Michigan’s football and men’s basketball Twitter accounts retweeted all of the #CrashCrisler messaging.

“We really wanted to blow out this event,” Bretzius said.

By tipoff, every seat was spoken for and a sellout crowd of 12,707 was announced. A time lapse of people filling the arena ran on social media and after the game Michigan ran recorded videos of the players thanking the fans.

The Wolverines were so encouraged that they turned to their channels on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram this fall to promote sellouts of men’s and women’s soccer matches as well as an attempt to set an attendance record for a volleyball match.

“It’s a great way to galvanize the community of fans,” Wagner said.