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The A-Day UA Athletics Promotional Ads

Watching the A-Day game yesterday I was striaght-up gobsmacked by the new UA Athletics advertising campaign. The promotional ads that played during the ESPN telecast were nothing less than stellar - employing professional production values and a to-the-point message that sent goosebumps down my spine the first time I saw them.

I wasn’t the only one. Brian McDaniel – who touts himself as a 20-year Communications and PR Professional – has a fantastic blog post this morning  pointing out that UA was presented a unique opportunity for an off-season national audience and simply aced it.

Because as exciting as these spots were for we crimson faithful, we aren’t their actual target audience. McDaniel points out these are aimed at 1) prospective recruits 2) aspiring recruits and 3) the wider fanbase. All of which worked with the telecast of the game itself to promote the program.

The bottom line, McDaniel points out, is economic:

Football economics never enters a recession in the Crimson Nation. Nielsen ratings for ESPN’s coverage also should demonstrate strength for a brand that has been stagnant for the past decade and a half. Alabama’s fan base is reveling in the “New Glory” right now. It will help motivate donors, ticket sales, and the financials that will keep the pump primed in Tuscaloosa.

Better recruits means a better product. Wider exposure means a larger group to offer that product to. As much as Alabama football is a passion for us, it's important to remember that it is also a business - a very profitable business that needs a  top-notch marketing plan.

Moreover, the high-profile of the two spots promoting the newly hired Anthony Grant as coach of the Alabama basketball team were interesting as well.


(the other one can be found here).

The effort to cast Grant in an Obama-esque mold of renewal and commitment to progress works to build momentum behind a sport that has historically suffered due to the devotion to the gridiron at the university. Again, this is less the result of starry-eyed idealism than bottom-line financial pragmatism. Basketball is a growth market the university would be foolish to ignore in a period of economic distress. And don’t think for a second that the image of the basketball program doesn’t rub off on UA athletics as a whole.

Because no matter how innocuous you might believe these commercials to be, they have a fantastically profound impact on the way the programs and the university are perceived. McDaniel makes an incisive points about  the woeful state of the promotional spot for the university itself.

I honestly thought the Sports Information Department turned over their marketing to students in the School of Communication. It struck me as a low-budget attempt by a Division II school, not a major college sports franchise. It lacks authenticity.

This isn't a minor issue when you consider this 30-second spot is the face of the university every nationally-televised game. That's a free half-minute of exposure any major business would kill for pretty much wasted. It is an incredible, enviable opportunity gone completely to waste.

Let’s take an example. Say you are a multi-star recruit trying to make that final decision on which program you will play for. The question on your mind is, "Which coach - and, by extension, which university - promises the best opportunity for your future?" Do you choose this gentleman:

...or this one?

It’s all part of the process, people. Part of the process.