In the natural cycle of the calendar year, summer's always been kind of boring. The only sport really ongoing is baseball, and the sheer repetition of America's Favorite Pasttime always made it feel like one day after another. With the exception of Fourth of July, the summer doesn't really have anything unless a special event (like the World Cup) comes around to capture our attention.
The best part about summer was its lack of anything, the way it shows up abruptly and without warning. After hockey and basketball seasons end, spring football practice kicks up and runs with baseball season. But once spring football ends, there's not a whole lot of anything separating us from the start of the football season in August. In some ways, that's a good thing, since summer is time then to reboot and recharge. But in other ways, it's a break, an untapped ground full of potential for marketing and football possibilities.
In the modern age of social media, college sports programs are stepping up their marketing game in the summer time. Already this summer, Boston College is using its Instagram and YouTube accounts to push various aspects of the Eagles athletics programs. There have been various posts featuring head coach Steve Addazio, and the athletics department is gearing its approach at how the fans are part of the full experience. BC posted a picture to its Instagram account showing what the video ribbons and new video boards will look like in the end zone. It's an interesting approach, but it's one that hits home at a very core, simple model - make the fans feel welcome, make them feel like they play a huge role in the team's success, and entice them to be part of that experience.
It's a ramp up unlike anything we've really seen in the past, and it's something that should only intensify as the summer moves on. Timely posts on social media devices are able to generate advertising interest that are substantially cheaper and more impactful than the ones seen on television. Utilizing the YouTube channel and giving us glimpses into the program will whet the appetite for football, especially as minds go number as the summer moves on.
This is an approach hardly restricted to the Eagles, but it's one where BC is really making the right moves. UMass released a ticket sales commercial on YouTube advertising single game ticket sales for their game against BC and Colorado. They tabbed the game against BC as the "Battle For The Bay State." And they're using images of the fan experience to entice people to travel to Gillette Stadium for games.
The difference between the school is that UMass' approach is disjointed, while BC maximizes impact. We all know about my dislike of the Minutemen, but it's worth a statement that I'm not just saying this because I like BC and don't like UMass. UMass tries too hard to immediately advertise its game against BC, and there's too much going on. They don't mention the return to Amherst and McGuirk Stadium at all, despite the fact that they just spent millions of dollars renovating the building. It feels like a UMass infomercial, something someone would order with a set of Ronco knives.
In contrast, Boston College is using a very simple, very direct approach that whacks on our emotions. BC is essentially making their commercial approach look like a movie trailer, something that uses the difference senses to entice the consumer. They're using dramatic music and images familiar with BC from last year that can be seen this year. Their centerpieces feature the play on the field, but the centerpiece is Coach Addazio and the fans.
Going back to what I said about a week ago, I indicated I wanted to see BC begin using underutilized mediums as a way to get fans into the game. I talked about increasing the level of interactivity for the casual fan who isn't among those of us who will go to games for merely the X's and O's. I talked about it as a way that the school could use marketing intiatives where they have absolute control, that they could saturate our emotions by making a large thunderclap of a sound away from the things that truly detract. There are definite negatives and drawbacks in what BC can offer; the crew up on The Heights is doing a good job minimizing them while highlighting what they're good at.
But back to the original point. Summertime, historically, is a time of year when we're not paying attention. But BC is bridging the gap with a timely approach. Social media allows us to see these things on our own watch, too, so it's something they can post on BCEagles.com that we can watch at our own leisure when we're surfing the web during downtime at work or at home. It's not something that needs to be seen on television. It's also something that can get us excited to fill the gap when we're ordinarily not paying much attention to anything.
Look at it this way. If you look at the content we've had on this site so far this summer, it's mostly been about football players. We're passing the time between no active sports by thinking and dreaming about football. But there's only so much discussion that can happen until the school makes a large noise with something that'll steal our attention. It doesn't have to be a big deal, but it just has to be something that we talk about. And in that, they've been successful.
Football season is around the corner. The difference between this year and most is that in 2014, the schools are very loudly telling us that.