How the Ducks Do It – A Summary

The Oregon Ducks are one of the most successful Collegiate programs in recent history. A lot of their success can be attributed to the re-branding started by Phil Knight, CEO of NIKE and alumni of Oregon. Tired of seeing the school make it to bowl games only to be blown out, Knight called a meeting at Nike and made the Ducks a top priority for the company.

The focus for Nike and the Oregon athletics program was to build a program that could attract the best and brightest players. This was done first by changing the culture. They realized that appealing to older traditional fans wasn’t leading to a winning program. Instead they wanted to appeal to young athletes and attract them to Oregon. To do so, they invested millions in new facilities as well as their iconic uniforms. Despite the complaints of traditionalists, the old adage of “Winning Fixes Everything” really proved true, as once Oregon started winning consistently, people began praising their new methods.

Oregon has set the blueprint for teams on how to build a winning organization in the 21st century, and we can expect many more to start following their lead in the near future.






The Virginia State Trojans

The Virginia State Trojans are a Division 2 school out of Ettrick, Virginia. The school was founded in 1882, and have been a member of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association since 1920. They offer 14 varsity sports split between men and women. As far as promoting their athletics, they use a few different social media platforms.

The Facebook for their athletic program is their most followed platform, with just over 3000 likes and follows. They do a good job posting photos from games and practices, as well as announcements for upcoming games. One area that could be improved upon is fan interaction. There seems to be almost no comments or conversation between fans and the page.

The Trojans also have done a decent job at utilizing Twitter. They post photos and stories much like their Facebook, and they also occasionally tweet shorter blurbs congratulating their teams on their accomplishments. One downside is the frequency that they tweet. There seems to be only one tweet a day on average, lessening their chances to be seen.

They also have an underused Instagram. They will post photos of games or big events, but at a very infrequent pace. There will be long periods of time with no posts, and many sports being posted about very little. This could contribute to their low follower count, reaching just over 1,000.

The Trojans are a competitive team in their conference, shown in their championships in various sports. However, they are severely lacking in exposure. An increase in the use of their social media could help to improve that, and possibly help improve the competitiveness of their teams.


-Quinten Squires

Eyes and Ears on Me

One of the most important aspects of how sports are experienced is the things people use to experience them: the five senses. While some seem more important than others, sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch are profoundly important to the way we not only perceive sporting events, but also to how we think about the entire experience. In his blog post, Evan Brown talks about how the senses can be used to brand experience. I’ll summarize it here, but if you want to read his entire post, you can do so here:

The most obvious sense for sporting events is sight, actually watching the game. Brown talks about how color can affect our perception, and using the right color can change how people think of your brand. One of the most important things when it comes to your brand is your logo. Sports logos are often recognizable even to non-sport fans.

Smell is often considered to be very important and has been linked to memory. It can be used to elicit positive reactions to a brand, but it can also be negative. Many sports can be conected with positive smells, and doing so can get people to think of your team whenever, they come across the smell.

When you think about attending a sport event, often you’ll think about the sounds of the game. The yelling of the players and fans, the collisions of whatever is colliding on the field, or the guy selling peanuts. One thing teams can do to set themselves apart in a sport, is the music they okay in their stadium. Playing the right music can in a way control fan’s emotional responses.

Taste is a small part of a sporting experience, but it can still affect how people perceive your organization. If you have bad food at your games it could ruin the entire experience for someone, and make them not want to come back, and having good tasting food can do the opposite.

The last sense is touch. Brown calls it the hardest to master for brands due to the prevalence of online retailers. The same can be said for sports with more events being watched on televisions and online than in person. That said, fans attending the game can be greatly affected by touch. Uncomfortable seating is the number one thing that can ruin an event for spectators.

One sense I think WVWC sports could better capitalize on is smell. When I think about any of our sports none of them bring a specific smell to mind. With smell’s close relationship to memory popular smells connected with positive outcomes could really help to boost any sport’s image.


-Quinten Squires

The New Generation

Marketing is an aspect of business that seems like it would have the same concept across every type of business. Namely, maintaining your product. However, with sports, there is a catch. You don’t have control of the biggest part of your product. When you’re in the marketing department, you have little to no control over the outcome of games. That’s not to say that the two are mutually exclusive. A team producing wins can make the lives of the organization’s marketers much easier. There’s a popular adage in sports: Winning fixes everything.

Sometimes though, a team will spend more than a few years in the proverbial gutter. This team still has to be marketed. Usually these teams are rebuilt with young talent. The fan base can be done the same way. Bringing in millennials can allow a team to rebuild their fan base with a very strong core.

Mike Grahl, VP of Digital Platforms for the Milwaukee Bucks, gave a talk at the American Marketing Association Regional Conference about marketing to the younger generation. I have included the full video below.

In his talk he spoke about how he and his team market the Bucks. He mentions several different methods, but they all focus around the main idea of delivering a quality experience to the fans on and off the court. At the time, the Bucks were coming off a pretty bad season, meaning fan engagement was an even more important goal for the team.

The first thing he mentions regarding fan engagement is appealing to fans all across the spectrum. Be it the hardcore fan that’s a season ticket holder, or the super casual who just came to the game because their friend brought them. He mentions the dance team and dunk team. He says the goal is for every fan to leave thinking: “That was fun”.

At Division II schools, this is a good strategy to bring in students that may not be big sport fans. Providing other entertainment and opportunities for socialization can be big draws for less popular sports.

Another one of the main strategies he talks about it social media engagement. Millennials are often cited for their use of social media and desire for constant connections. This allows for perfect opportunity for marketing. This works especially well if the team has young players that have grown up with social media in the for front. Allowing these young players to express their individuality can engage fans and have fans see them as more than just athletes.

This is a tactic that can work especially well at a Div II school because the size of the school means that athletes likely know a relatively large amount of students. This can work very well if they have good relationships with students, bringing more of them to games. However, this can also be deadly to a small school fan base if a player has several bad relationships. Those scorned and their friends will have a very negative view of the team and that opinion could spread very quickly.

-Quinten Squires

Let’s Run That Back

When it comes to sports, there’s two sides to market to: Those who watch sports, and those who play them. Those that watch, you sell beer and food. To athletes you promote things that will increase their performance. For example shiny new cleats or Gatorade. In the commercial above, Gatorade is never explicitly mentioned, but it is present throughout the entire training process. Gatorade isn’t selling it’s product through endorsement, but rather through showing it being essential to becoming great. It’s even present in the after where the player has become great as helping to maintain performance.

This works not only for just players, but also for anyone that’s active. Seeing that something works for athletes, you can feel encouraged that it can work for you in your endeavors. This is often a reason athlete endorsements are so prominent. Seeing your favorite sports player can influence you to buy the product they are promoting. This can also have the opposite effect, if a fan has negative feelings about a player. For example, I, someone who dislikes the Panthers and especially Cam Newton, have avoided certain things that he endorses because of my feelings towards him. This is an emotional reaction on my part, and it not something in the advertisers control, but it is definitely something to be considered.

With sport fandoms, there is always a lot of emotions. It has been shown time and again that people want to be a part of something, and they will take up against other groups just because they have a different flag. Sometimes the two groups can be almost identical, but still have fierce relations. This is illustrated by the rabbit duck armyTaking a side is the first thing you do with many things, especially sports. Nobody becomes a football fan, a baseball fan, or a hockey fan without one of the first things they do including picking a favorite team. There are some who develop a love of the game as well as a deep understanding of the game as they grow up playing it, but I think emotion is a predecessor for any such thing happening.

No matter how much you know about a sport, there’s always more to learn. This week, go out and learn something new about your favorite sport.

The Trouble with “-gates”

One of the worst things that can happen to a sports organization is to be caught up in some kind of scandal. Not even sports are safe from today’s 24 hours news cycles. Channels like ESPN or Fox Sports are some examples of sports networks that feed off of controversy. Controversy pulls views, and scandals are some of the most controversial topics there is in sports. Depending on the sports league and severity of the scandal, a lot of things become harder for that organization. This can include anything from playing the games or managing the roster to things like public relations and marketing.

Usually the first thing that happens when a team is caught up in a scandal is the media will jump all over it, whether it’s true or not. They’ll run stories, have ‘insiders’ and experts talk about it, and for most fans, this will be their only source of information. And of course, they always give it some kind of name with “-gate”, a reference to Watergate which is often not applicable. If it later turns out that a team is innocent, there will only be a small mention of it on the ticker across the bottom. Something like this happening can permanently damage an organization’s ability to reach casual fans. All because we live in a time where it’s more rewarding to report something first than it is to report it right.

Some of the most common ways a team can be punished for scandal are fines, suspensions, and loss of draft picks. Losing a coach or a star player to suspension can be devastating for a team on the field. Losing draft picks can hurt the future of the organization. Other indirect punishments include media distraction, and damage to the brand. If a scandal is still unraveling, the media will want to talk to players and coaches about it, taking their focus off the game. Being found responsible for the scandal can cause you to lose fans, and marketing deals.

At the beginning of the 2016 NFL season, Tom Brady was suspended four games for a scandal the media deemed Deflategate. The team still played well and won three of those four, but that was also four games without their star Quarterback. A few years earlier in the 2012 offseason, the NFL began an investigation into the New Orleans Saints, regarding a “bounty” system that rewarded players for hard hits on opposing players. As a result, three coaches, including the head coach, and four players were suspended, the team was fined $50,000 and docked two second round draft picks. The media attention they received was less than positive, and it was definitely distracting. In addition, Bountygate, as the media called it, has reached a an almost infamous status. Anytime a new scandal pops up, this one is always brought up and used to compare the severity. It’s a stigma that will be a part of the team for many years to come.

If you get the chance, take a moment to remember those brave souls who have to create a marketing plan and has a scandal dropped that blows the whole thing to pieces.




Second Half Kickoff

It’s the start of the second semester and what better way to begin it with something no one expects? When you try something new and it succeeds, it can be a real game changer. That change can completely shift momentum, a key to any sport, and send everything in a new direction.

My name is Quinten Squires. Thank you for checking out the first of what I hope can be a great blog. Over the next few months I plan to use this as a way to share my thoughts and opinions about sports marketing. This first post will serve to provide some background about me and where I want to end up. So first off, a little about me:

Throughout school, I’ve always been one of the quiet kids. I spoke when necessary but mostly sat back and observed. However, I always had a witty reply ready and never met a problem I couldn’t solve with enough time. Today, I’m pretty much the same, but I’ve started doing things I never imagined. I moved on campus, got involved, and even joined a fraternity. All these have changed my life for the better.

As far sports go, I played several growing up, as kids do. I was decent at some and just plain bad at others, but they all taught me something. Some of those lessons were made me who I am today.

When I was little, sports were often on TV in my house. One football team in particular caught my eye. I really liked their logo and thought their city abbreviation of “NO” was pretty funny. I didn’t start watching professional sports until years later when that team went on their improbable Super Bowl run. Though I wouldn’t consider myself a Saints fan until the season after. From that point, I became obsessed, learning as much as I could about the team, and then the entire sport. A couple years later I did the same thing with baseball. However the team selection story isn’t as interesting. I had two options due to my location, and didn’t want to pick the same as everyone else, so I chose the Orioles. I’ve tried watching other sports since, but none have really garnered the same amount of interest from me.

Currently I’m a sophomore at West Virginia Wesleyan College pursuing a degree in Accounting with intent to follow that with an MBA. My true dream would have to be a high ranking position in an NFL front office. However, my realistic goal that I’m aiming for is to work in financing. It seems like something I would enjoy as well as provide a good quality of life. I haven’t considered where I would like to end up in the future, but coming from a small town of just over 4000 people, I want to try the city life.

Sports marketing is an interesting field because it’s how most of the money is made in sports. With the ever increasing globalization of the world, ticket sales are such a small proportion of revenue for organizations, and so much of it now relies on merchandise sales and TV contracts. Both things that are a part of marketing. Over the course of this semester I hope to learn much more of this important field .

Thanks again for checking out my first blog post and be sure to follow my social media accounts to be kept up to date with Surprise Onside and all things me.

  • Twitter: @QSquires97
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Now go out there and do something unexpected!

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