Suburb gets $12 million in media exposure for sponsoring college bowl game

According to Elk Grove Village officials, sponsoring the Bahamas Bowl paid off handsomely:

The village’s $300,000 fee to sponsor the Bahamas Bowl resulted in $12 million in media exposure, according to an independent audit, Mayor Craig Johnson told the village board Feb. 12. The village has an option to sponsor this year’s contest, which would entitle it to again tie its slogan — “Makers Wanted” — to the bowl game. A decision on whether to exercise that option is expected later this month.

Johnson said the audit, supplied to the village by ESPN, which owns the Bahamas Bowl and broadcasts it, indicates Elk Grove Village’s sponsorship generated a 40-times return in media coverage. The $12 million figure was derived from a formula that assigns a dollar amount to mentions, commercials and airtime showing the Makers Wanted logo, said Johnson, who was the driving force behind the sponsorship…

The unusual story of a Chicago suburb becoming a bowl sponsor is also being credited for a spike in traffic on the village’s website that lasted long after the Dec. 21 telecast of the game from Nassau, Johnson said.

Of course, media exposure might not be the best metric by which to measure this:

Whether those talks lead to anything tangible will be the long-term gauge of success for the village’s sponsorship, said Dennis Coates, an economics professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and the editor of the Journal of Sports Economics.

This reminds me of metrics used for online articles and social media content: how many impressions did it have? Unique visitors? Clicks? All of this can be fairly complicated.

But, the real payoff is knowing that advertising or sponsorship or particular information changed people’s behavior. It will take some time to know whether the impressions translate into new businesses in Elk Grove Village. Even then, new business activity may or may not be related to the game sponsorship. In ten years, can this suburb conclusively show that a one-time investment (or ongoing sponsorship over the years) like this led to positive change? And then, it might be worth doing a cost-benefit analysis to see if the sponsorship money was effectively spent.

Suburb sponsors a college bowl game, gets nearly 20 mentions, 6 commercials, and a lot of visuals on the field

Elk Grove Village sponsored a college bowl game. The Daily Herald tracked how often the community was mentioned during the game broadcast:

The 3½-hour telecast included nearly 20 mentions of the formal bowl game name that uses Elk Grove’s “Makers Wanted” tagline, and six commercials promoting the business park…

11:33 a.m. The players take the field, sporting the bowl game logo on jerseys. The logo, featuring the “Makers Wanted” slogan nestled in between two palm trees, is on the 50-yard line, while separate “Makers Wanted Elk Grove Village Illinois” logos are on the 25-yard lines. Similar banners are on sidelines behind team benches. Smaller sideline signs feature “Makers Wanted” and Elk Grove-based Stern Pinball, which gave pinball machines to each team.

11:54 a.m. Elk Grove airs its first TV commercial, which it gets as part of the sponsorship deal. “Why would Elk Grove Village sponsor the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl?” the announcer asks. “Because we’re proud,” mentioning the new technology park under development and access to transportation. The TV spot invites businesses to learn more “about how we can help your company grow at”…

2:32 p.m. Coming back from a break, ESPN shows scenes from Elk Grove’s municipal complex and park district and the watch party at Real Time Sports bar. “Good on the Makers Wanted people and all our friends watching in Elk Grove Village,” Levy says. “Need a place to set up and start a business and start a life? That’s an excellent place to go.”

Add in all the times viewers saw logos on the field and in the stadium and it sounds like the suburb received plenty of air-time.

Two related thoughts:

  1. It is interesting to see how the community tried to present itself. The whole point was to sell the business space and atmosphere of the community but that does not happen by just showing empty land and warehouses. So, if you are trying to promote a friendly community that is full of successful businesses and entrepreneurs, what else do you show? Based on the account above, they showed a party and a pinball competition hosted by a local company. Could those events happen anywhere? Would local residents recognize this as their community in terms of a pervasive local character or did it just cherry-pick a few pieces of the suburb?
  2. Imagine a future where more communities sponsor sporting events or other major events. The average American has never heard of most other suburbs. The average Chicago area resident likely knows little about Elk Grove Village outside of its location near O’Hare Airport. This could be a way for relatively small and unknown places to become more known. At the same time, such campaigns are unlikely to have major transformative effects on suburbs.

Chicago suburb to sponsor college bowl game

The competition between suburbs can be intense and Elk Grove Village has a new way to stand out: sponsor a college bowl game to be played in the Bahamas.

The village and ESPN announced Tuesday that Elk Grove will be the title sponsor of the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl, to be played Dec. 21 in Nassau, Bahamas, using the village’s business marketing tag line. The village is spending $300,000 to sponsor the game, which will air on ESPN. The game had previously been sponsored by Popeyes.

It marks the first time a non-tourist municipality has sponsored a bowl game, the village and ESPN say…

Johnson wanted a way to expand the reach of the village’s “Makers Wanted” campaign, which launched in 2015 to promote the village industrial park — at 6 square miles, the largest contiguous one in the country. The campaign has included a website, billboards, TV and radio commercials, and print ads…

The fee to sponsor the bowl game is part of a $400,000 increase the board approved in its contract with Lombard-based Red Caffeine, the marketing company that developed the Makers Wanted campaign. The other funds will pay for new Elk Grove TV commercials set to air regionally on cable news channels this fall.

It is not uncommon for states to mount such campaigns. For example, see efforts by Texas, Indiana, Florida, and isconsin to draw residents and businesses from Illinois. It is more rare for a single suburb to mount such a campaign on a national scale.

However, conspicuously missing from this article is any evidence that such campaigns work. Can the village conclusively show that the campaign started in 2015 has (1) increased the number of businesses in the community and (2) revenues have increased because of the moves?

This could also be about the status of the suburb. The Chicago area has scores of suburbs and communities often want to stand out. This is why they might seek to change a motto, a logo, or run campaigns to distinguish themselves from others. Such a marketing campaign can make a suburb feel better about itself and local leaders can show they are being proactive regarding growing their community (and growth is good).

It will be very interesting to see whether the football audience helps advance the goals of the suburb and if they are willing to renew their sponsorship for another year past the first. The mayor is claiming the news about the campaign has already helped the suburb (suggesting 95% of the value has already been realized) but the long-term prognosis will take some time to sort out.

The rise of “Seven Nation Army” to sports folk song

Deadspin has the story of how the song “Seven Nation Army” became ubiquitous at sporting events around the world. Here are a few of the important steps in the rise of the song:

The march toward musical empire began on Oct. 22, 2003, in a bar in Milan, Italy, 4,300 miles away from Detroit. Fans of Club Brugge K.V., in town for their team’s group-stage UEFA Champions League clash against European giant A.C. Milan, gathered to knock back some pre-match beers. Over a stereo blared seven notes: Da…da-DA-da da DAAH DAAH, the signature riff of a minor American hit song…

But in Milan, at the beginning, it was purely spontaneous and local. Kickoff was coming. The visiting Belgians moved out into the city center, still singing. They kept chanting it in the stands of the San Siro—Oh…oh-OH-oh oh OHH OHH—as Peruvian striker Andres Mendoza stunned Milan with a goal in the 33rd minute and Brugge made it hold up for a shocking 1-0 upset. Filing out of the stadium, they continued to belt it out.

The song traveled back to Belgium with them, and the Brugge crowd began singing it at home games. The club itself eventually started blasting “Seven Nation Army” through the stadium speakers after goals.

Then, on Feb. 15, 2006, Club Brugge hosted A.S. Roma in a UEFA Cup match. The visitors won, 2-1, and the Roma supporters apparently picked up the song from their hosts…

“Seven Nation Army” made a beachhead in American sports in State College, Penn. According to a 2006 story in the Harrisburg Patriot-News, Penn State spokesperson Guido D’Elia—who is still the director of communications and branding for the embattled football program—was inspired by hearing a Public Radio International story about A.S. Roma’s use of the song. D’Elia, who also introduced the now unavoidable German techno track “Kernkraft 400” to Nittany Lions fans, had found something new…

By the middle of the 2006 season, “Seven Nation Army” was a Beaver Stadium staple. (This year, as Penn State students gathered on Nov. 8 outside the university administration building, they began singing Joe Paterno’s first name over the riff.)

Is this what globalization looks like? The song was recorded by Americans, found its way into bars and soccer stadiums in Belgium and Italy, and then back to the United States as a marching band piece. Along the way, the song crossed national and language boundaries as well as musical instruments.

I bet there could be some interesting musical analysis regarding why this song has become so popular. It doesn’t require words to be sung, particularly helpful for large crowds of (rowdy?) people at sporting events. It only includes seven notes. It has a particular minor edge to it, described in this story as a sound of “doom” which is no doubt helpful in celebrations as the scoring team’s fans want to celebrate as well as taunt the other side.

I would be interested to know how much in royalties Jack White is getting from all of these plays…

Sociology experiment: mixing strong academics and athletics at Northwestern

Chicago Tribune columnist David Haugh suggested yesterday that Northwestern University is facing a sociology experiment by wanting strong academics and athletics:

So continued America’s fascinating sports sociology experiment in Evanston: Can a major-college sports program thrive in an environment in which winning clearly isn’t the No. 1 determinant of success? As Final Four week begins, it would behoove every basketball campus to reconsider its definitions of thrive, winning and success…

So I reached a different conclusion about Carmody but loved the way Phillips defended his. I loved the idea of a Big Ten school espousing ideals more typically found in Division III programs, of an AD taking an unpopular route by taking a stand for something noble. I can applaud a decision I wouldn’t have made because of what it symbolizes.

On one hand, Northwestern shows it recognizes the Big Ten basketball arms race by working on plans for $250 million worth of necessary facility upgrades. On the other, it stayed true to an underlying mission colleges usually ignore by keeping a coach who does things the right way…

Roll your eyes and look up Pollyannaish if you wish. But ultimately Phillips’ decision embodied the mandate for college sports programs Secretary of Education Arne Duncan outlined in a news conference on the eve of the NCAA tournament intended to remind schools of their priorities. Theoretically, Northwestern’s stance also reflected the emphasis more Big Ten and BCS-conference universities must consider in light of the NCAA linking academic progress rate with tournament eligibility beginning in 2013.

Haugh defends Northwestern’s actions in trying to do both: have high academic standards and have competitive sports programs. A few thoughts about this:

1. I’ve heard a lot of this argument at both Notre Dame and Northwestern. The situations are slightly different (Northwestern doesn’t have the past football glory of Notre Dame) but the argument generally go like this: the schools need to lower their academic standards in football and basketball if they really hope to compete for national championships. Perhaps this is right – neither school is the kind of powerhouse that brings athletes in and spits them out. But, as Haugh suggests, the schools have some different priorities.

2. These different priorities are not just tertiary concerns: Northwestern is a serious academic school (as is Notre Dame). According to the US News and World Report rankings, Northwestern is the #12 undergraduate school (Notre Dame is #19), #4 among business graduate schools, and #9 among education graduate schools (among other high rankings). So this isn’t quite a high-ranking Division III school; Northwestern is a strong academic university where there are many things going on besides athletics.

3. In other sports, Northwestern and Notre Dame can do just fine. Let’s be honest here: what is really driving these arguments is football (and maybe a little basketball). Interestingly, both Northwestern and Notre Dame are not bad at these sports but also not great. Northwestern football has been improved since the mid 1990s but they are not going to compete for a national championship. Northwestern basketball just missed the NCAA tournament but they played in perhaps the toughest conference this year and had a number of chances to make their season really memorable.

3a. If you look at the Director’s Cup rankings which account for all sports, some more academic schools do just fine. For example, look at the most recent March 22 rankings: Stanford is #1, Duke is #28, Notre Dame is #34, and Northwestern is #63. Granted, the big public schools seem to do well in these rankings across the sports but it’s not like academic schools can’t compete in other sports. For example, Northwestern has been known in recent years for two other sports: fencing and women’s lacrosse. While these are not high profile, the athletes have proven can be champions as well as high-performing athletes.

3b. I wonder at times if Northwestern isn’t lucky on this front to be located in Chicago. Since Chicago doesn’t care much about college sports, schools like Northwestern and the University of Chicago (who used to be in the Big 10 but now competes at the Division III level) don’t have to go the athletic route.

In the end, I think Northwestern will be just fine. This is a sociology experiment that doesn’t have to happen – not all colleges need to be athletic powerhouses.

What should have happened earlier today at Penn State

Coming into the Penn State-Nebraska game that took place earlier today, a number of commentators said the game should be played. The current players aren’t responsible for any of the problems and so should not be punished and the football game itself could start the healing process. The ceremonies before the game, including a mid-field prayer with both teams participating, were shown live on ESPN.

Here is what I think should have really been done today at Penn State: the Penn State players and coaches should have come out onto the field like they would for any game. However, when the game was just about to start, all of the players and coaches should stop the action, kneel, and refuse to play. They could then issue a statement that would read something like this:

“Today is not a day for a football game. Our campus has experienced a tragedy and we are embarrassed since this involved a number of men that we thought were leaders and whom we respected. Although we were not personally involved, we realize that life is much bigger than football. The world will keep turning if this game is not played today. We need time to think, reconnect, and build up the trust for which this campus was once well renowned. We will play football again when these important matters have been taken care of.”

Imagine what sort of message this would send. In the midst of tragedy, this would be a statement that the billion-dollar (NCAA-wide) football machine plus its incredibly popular culture wouldn’t run roughshod over lives for a few hours. Football would be put on the backburner, which is arguably the primary issue here anyway.

I wonder what would have happened if the players would have really wanted to do this.

The civil rights argument against NCAA Division I football and men’s basketball

The cover story of the latest Atlantic, The Shame of College Sports,” is provocative and fascinating. The article is mainly about a series of court cases involving the civil rights of “student-athletes” and procuring a share of the NCAA’s football and men’s basketball profits for these “student-athletes.” After reading the full argument, it is difficult to feel much goodwill toward the NCAA.

College athletes clustering in a few majors, including sociology

I’ve written before about sociology being considered an “easy major” by athletes. A new report looks at some notable schools and considers how clustered male athletes are within majors:

Since the NCAA invented the APR [Academic Progress Rate] in 2003, critics have worried that it would discourage athletes from choosing difficult majors or from changing course once they started down a given track. Some have anticipated a “clustering” of athletes in certain majors, such as sociology or communication, and others have expressed concern about the creation of broad programs such as general studies with athletes in mind.

A 2008 analysis by USA Today found that clustering happens at most institutions, and of the three sports programs Shalala compares, Miami football is most questionable, with 62.5 percent of the team studying one of two majors. While clustering on a small scale isn’t necessarily unusual, researchers who study the phenomenon say the 25-percent mark is where things start getting fishy.

A full 37.5 percent of Miami’s junior and senior football players were majoring in liberal arts in 2008, and 25 percent in sports administration. The same 37.5 percent of Stanford’s junior and senior softball players were in one major — but it was human biology — and 36.8 percent of baseball players majored in sociology. Notre Dame athletes didn’t cluster at all, according to USA Today’s analysis.

While this report by Donna Shalala, president of Miami, seems tied to troubles their football program has with violating NCAA regulations, the USA Today 2008 analysis offers more insights. While sociology is lumped within the social sciences, you can mouse over the graphics and while the most clustering seems to happen in the social sciences, the sociology clusters are numerous.

Alas, this collected data is still limited:

Assisted by sports information and other school offices, USA TODAY obtained the majors for about 85% of the athletes in the study. For most of the rest, no major was listed. Primary or first-listed majors were used in the cases of students with multiple majors.

Initially, part of the intent was to compare the percentages of athletes in a major with those of the student body as a whole. That is, if 30% of baseball players are in sociology, is 30% of the entire student body enrolled in sociology? However, short of getting athletes’ private records and the federal reporting code of each athlete’s major, large-scale comparisons are unreliable because some schools have multiple versions of some majors.

The NCAA collects similar information, but does not release it and has no current plans to study it.

Hmmm…I wonder why the NCAA has no interest in analyzing this data.

Evidence of sociology being viewed as an easy major for athletes

It is about that time of year when broadcasters and fans start poring football media guides. One enterprising fan of the University of Arkansas posted some tidbits from this year’s guide and one involved sociology:

Do you know what Greg Childs, Knile Davis, Cobi Hamilton, and Joe Adams all have in common? Well, besides being stars on the offense. They are all majoring in sociology. Arkansas actually has twenty players who are majoring in sociology with sports and recreation management being the second most popular choice. I can assure you that all those players didn’t come to the UofA with a desire to learn more about sociology. No doubt, someone in the athletic department has told them that sociology is a “football friendly” major.

I wonder how the sociology department at the University of Arkansas might respond.

On the whole, I don’t think having the reputation as an “easy major” helps the broader discipline of sociology.

An agent tells his story of paying college football players

Former agent Josh Luchs talks to Sports Illustrated about paying college football players in the hopes that they would select him as their agent.

How many other stories like this are out there to be told? Are Division 1 college football and basketball, with all their various scandals (Reggie Bush being the latest major example), just a complete cesspool? And then the next question: how much do college and universities know about this and try to seriously deal with it?