Boston College dropped its newest marketing campaign on Tuesday, branding itself as “Boston’s College.” The campaign included a YouTube video, pictures playing off the school’s geography and motto of “For Here All Are One,” and associating the iconic Paul Revere statue with BC’s own icon of the Doug Flutie statue.
From a marketing standpoint, I couldn’t be happier. Two years ago, I first saw the juicy opportunity to make BC an iconic brand in the Boston city proper. It’s a relatively untapped market, one that a number of teams tried to capitalize and annex without success.
To take their shot, Boston College announced it would utilize street teams to raise awareness in downtown Boston, fanning out into neighborhoods with the intention of raising awareness throughout the summer for Eagles athletics. Their goal is to reach out to people who have been to one or two games and bring them back into the fold, making BC something to do as opposed to a one-off kind of thing.
When you look at the rest of the ACC, the more popular teams ingratiate themselves into the fabric of the city they reside in. Florida State’s mascot, logo, and general culture pay tribute to the Seminole tribe. Miami has the swagger and attitude that comes from having ultra talented athletes with a chip on their shoulder, growing out of the lost areas of South Florida. Virginia Tech has the Hokies, and Lane Stadium is the rising tribute to the people who live in the hills of rural western Virginia.
It’s all about identity, but for years, BC’s gone through their seasons without one matching the city around them. Being able to reach into the city’s fabric is something that is going to benefit the athletics programs because, quite simply, it identifies the team with the communities around them.
The images are tried and true, no matter how stereotypical they might feel. People from the Greater Boston area identify with images and symbols of day-to-day life. They identify with the red line rumbling through Dorchester, and they identify with the people staring at their phone as they wait for the next Green Line train.
They hang the flag outside of their house in Quincy, and I can’t count the number of neighborhood bars that have about 20 seats and a TV in the corner. It’s a city with multiple major media outlets, including sports radio, where people from those communities call and talk about the sports that they demand to talk about.
The campaign doesn’t come without its warts. For starters, the immediate gut reaction is to call out “New York’s College Team” out in Syracuse because it feels similar, but at the same time, both have the same goal. Even I’ve made fun of their attempt to capitalize on New York City, but I did so in the same breath that I called out UMass for trying to come into Boston.
UMass’s entire marketing campaign identified the school as the flagship of the state. They placed the state flag on the shoulder yokes of their hockey jerseys, placed the outline of the state on their football jerseys. They placed the state on the red line at the Mullins Center.
Despite that, it never really felt like the Minutemen represented the city of Boston. The only way they could come play in or near Boston is to leave campus, which is an intricate part of the college sports experience, making their appearances one-off cameos. No matter what they do, western Massachusetts is a totally different area, at times world away.
Boston College, however, is able to tap into the city’s sports pipelines in its own backyard. They play the best teams in their leagues, which enables them to be the biggest player in the most lucrative sport (football). They currently have the most recently successful local team in the sport driving deepest into the region’s fabric (hockey).
The baseball team is a perfect example of what happens when a team successfully ingrains into a city. The 2009 college tournament appearance wasn’t as heavily covered, but this year’s team found its way into the public interest sector. Once there, a city with multiple media television, journalism, and radio outlets couldn’t get enough of the “local boys done good” angle.
Helping to continue to build and cultivate those cultures will help develop basketball. Assuming the programs will head in the right direction.
There’s no guarantee this translates to success at the gate, and ultimately winning does wonders to get people interested in the teams. For now, though, this is a great start, and it’s an exciting time to see what exactly the school can do as “Boston’s College.”