George Mason University Athletics

Situation

In conjunction with their team’s 2014 move to the Atlantic 10 — a far more competitive athletic conference than its usual rivalries — George Mason University Athletics wanted to establish a fresh look for the marketing of its Patriots men’s basketball program, the school’s most prominent and visible sports team. The Patriots had struggled on the court after seeing a tremendous growth in the years following its historic Final Four run in 2006. These factors contributed to George Mason seeking to hire a full-service agency to offer a new perspective and expertise in developing a re-design of its brand and creating a more effective fully- integrated media plan.

Objectives

Sage’s main objective was to raise overall awareness of George Mason basketball by driving sales of season ticket packages, multiple mini-game plans, and individual tickets to the Patriots’ home games at EagleBank Arena. A critical element of the campaign was developing a new look and design of the Mason brand.

Our Process

Sage began by evaluating all collateral material from the past eight years (since the 2006 Final Four) and researching examples of other college and professional sports organization’s materials. Our creative team developed a series of 11” x 17” posters that featured a dynamic new look that would be featured throughout the creative suite of ads and all promotional pieces.

The next phase was developing a full-scale, media plan consisting of direct response, print, radio, and web advertising. Sage enhanced the media plan by negotiating added value with ticket trades and on-air and online promotions. We were also able to secure a major radio partnership with The Fan 106.7 FM that aired 13 games live during the season. The campaign’s major call to action was the promotion of a three-game mini- plan ticket package offering fans the opportunity to receive three premium gifts with the purchase of tickets to three key games.

In support of the media campaign, Sage produced a full range of collateral materials and advertisements, including multiple posters, a schedule card, game day program covers, a series of print ads, a variety of static and animated web ads, two 30-second radio commercials, in-game LED boards, and other promotional pieces. Throughout the season, we executed all elements of the plan through account management, reporting, and updating the creative.

Results

The new, eye-catching creative made a bold statement and was very well received throughout the Patriot community. Showcasing the three-game mini-plan packages in the ad campaign proved to be a major success with sales increasing by 468% over the previous season. One of the two radio commercials written and developed by the Sage team went on to win a Silver Medal for the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators’ (NACMA) Best of Awards.

 
Jim McIntyre