AT&T Nation's Football Classic


Events DC contracted with Sage to facilitate a full slate of communication activities on behalf of the AT&T Nation’s Football Classic, an NCAA MEAC Conference regular season football game between Historically Black College and University (HBCU) rivals Howard and Hampton at RFK Stadium. The overall mission was to raise and heighten awareness for both the game and the various elements and activities surrounding the event.

To facilitate these results, Sage Communications implemented and executed the seven distinct phases, each of which – combined – led to the successful deployment of this awareness campaign. The phases were:

  • Phase I – Creation and development of the AT&T Nation’s Football Classic website facilitating event information, ticket purchasing options, fan connection through social media and volunteer opportunities.

  • Phase II – Creation of the AT&T Nation’s Football Classic messaging architecture, which ultimately became the overall campaign “brand.”

  • Phase III – Development, deployment and implementation of the event ticket sales strategy.

  • Phase IV – Development and implementation of a comprehensive media plan to include traditional and non-traditional advertising.

  • Phase V – Development of all creative material design and production.

  • Phase VI – Creation and implementation of a dynamic social media campaign that fully integrated content with delivery.

  • Phase VII – Creation and execution of a powerful grass-roots outreach program targeting a variety of outlets ranging from participation in community activities to guerilla marketing elements.


The fifth Annual AT&T Nation’s Football Classic was in need of a new image and a new public persona and brand. A new event website was necessary, as was the development and implementation of an entirely new outreach and awareness strategy.


Sage’s primary objectives were to create a marketable brand for the AT&T Nation’s Football Classic, to raise and expand awareness for the annual DC game, and to grow media interest and television viewership.


The initial component of our plan was the design and development of a new AT&T Nation’s Football Classic website. The website displayed several layers in build up for the game, including a detailed schedule of the five-day event, up-to-date press releases and announcements, a social media section for people who joined the #RealHU #Hampton #Howard conversation, and opportunities to volunteer for Washington D.C.’s annual HBCU football game.

Throughout the lead-up to the game, our social media plan displayed daily postings on Facebook and Twitter to increase awareness of the game, as well as to bolster television viewership.

In support of on-site branding and communication, community outreach, social media and traditional advertising, Sage designed and produced the full range of collateral materials, including posters, banners, and a promotional roll-a-banner. We also produced a series of print advertisements for deployment across multiple media outlets in sizes that included quarter-page, half-page, and full-pages, 10 different sizes of static and animated web ads for online banner placement, television and radio scripts of various lengths, and social media advertisements for Google AdWords, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

Sage created, deployed and delivered a full-scale, across-the-board media advertising campaign in both DC and Hampton VA, targeting local, ethnic and University-based print publications, radio, television and digital media. Sage enhanced these media buys through the deployment of ticket trades and promotions designed to maximize the value of the advertising buy.

Sage managed and facilitated a full-service public and media relations campaign, beginning with a news conference and media day at RFK on thefirst of May where coaches, players and pep bands/drum lines from bothteams turned out to deliver a powerful, high-impact game announcement. Thereafter, Sage conducted an ongoing, extensive public and community outreach campaign targeting both traditional and nontraditional media sources. We contacted and pitched stories to magazines and newspapers, urban and suburban weeklies, radio stations, television news stations, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities publications.


With a crowd of 16,342, Sage Communication’s marketing and outreach helped the AT&T Nation’s Football Classic exceed the prior year’s attendance by more than 3,000, while also delivering increased viewership over ESPN. We also successfully and effectively marketed the various elements and activities that surrounded the game, including the Pepsi Fan Festival, The Technoir Entrepreneur-focused Innovators Classic, the AT&T Kickoff Rally, a Hampton vs. Howard Student Debate and an HBCU College and Career Fair with the Congressional Black College Foundation, among others.

On-site, Sage personnel facilitated several operational activities including credentialing and media check-in, photo marshaling and coordination, press box management and support, post-game media interview facilitation and more.

Jim McIntyre