Bowl Games, we’ve all heard of them but not everyone may know exactly what they are. As someone with a background in athletic communications, it usually takes being thrown into the mix to really understand what goes on behind the scenes. From the outside, it’s oversized teenagers hitting each other over a ball, but once you dig into it it’s a billion dollar industry that has the third largest fan base of any sport. Best of all, almost everything that’s done is considered public relations.
Consider this: The 2017 Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl was viewed in over 100 countries creating nearly 21 million media impressions. For a business looking to take their company to the next level, doesn’t this seem like an easy answer? And while you’re probably thinking, “how much does that cost?” let me stop you right there and ask you this question instead, how much are you spending on media buys, advertising, pr, etc. the list goes on and on. What if we took that money and put it to use on one big bang that in turn would be worth all of the little things. Executive Director of the Bad Boy Mower Gasparilla Bowl gave us a snapshot of what that looks like.
Six months prior to bowl games beginning is when ESPN begins scouting for naming rights. While naming rights are the meat and potatoes of the deal, it’s everything else that makes it a successful marketing and public relations campaign. ESPN Events focuses on grassroots marketing with an emphasis on anything crazy, different and out of the ordinary. Like lawn mower races crazy, how’s that for creating a trending moment on Twitter (who doesn’t love the Waterboy.) Additionally, they also focus on community outreach.
The annual Fill the Bowl event gives participating teams the opportunity to make a difference in the local community while developing camaraderie and awareness. Offensive and defensive players from each team are placed together with local members of the Boys and Girls club to fill weekend meal kits for children in the area. What takes those teams less than two hours to do would typically take six months for regular volunteers to complete. Onsite during the activation, Bad Boy Lawn Mowers are hooked up to trailers helping to haul food back and forth. The event takes place in a public square where hundreds of people have the opportunity to see and interact with the players, the brand and other organizational stakeholders. Sounds like a PR success story, right?
So for those of you who may not have the budget for naming rights or title sponsorships, I hope you’ve made it this far because I believe this is the most important part. With ESPN Events, like most sports organizations, there is something for everyone creating endless opportunities. Maybe you can’t be a title sponsor but you can sponsor a gate giveaway or be an event donor or a beverage partner, the list goes on and on and on! Whatever the brand there’s almost always an opportunity. After all, everything in sports is public relations.