I was on I-93 North this morning, listening to some Creedence Clearwater Revival and trying to shake off the celebratory cobwebs from the night before. Then, in a fleeting moment, I saw my first UMass football billboard.
The image lasted a second, and then the image flipped and changed to something else. I only had time to recognize the “UMass” block letters and the two-word phrase: “It’s On!”
It very well might be “On,” but is it too late to get people on board?
For the past few months, I have heard the complaints from our readers. I have received the e-mails, the texts and the tweets asking when and where UMass is finally going to start hyping its football team. During that time I felt the best course of action was to wait patiently, see how the chips fell, and work under the presumption that the biggest athletic maneuver in school history would eventually be advertised.
I figured I would sit back and wait for the marketing “blitz.” I figured the blitz was aimed at Boston and the huge UMass alumni base that resides near it. I figured if I waited long enough, the Minutemen would send two linebackers and a corner, raise hell and set a maroon fire under the feet of its dormant fan base more than a month before kickoff.
It has become abundantly clear that UMass and I have very different definitions of the word blitz.
I can only assume that the marketing trickle is due to a cost-and-reward algorithm. UMass has put significant (by UMass standards) money into this campaign and wants the timing to be just right so that it squeezes every last bit of value out of its expenditure. I can appreciate that thought process, but I am frustrated that the school is trapped in the triangle of traditional advertising: radio, television and newspapers.
UMass has at its disposal an athletics website, an institutional website, Twitter pages, Facebook pages and a gamut of other online resources that are cost-effective ways to spread the word about the program. I understand that the school has used these to market the team in some capacity, but it has to use a different strategy if it wants to truly reach its potential fans.
Ads in newspapers, on TV and the radio are fantastic traditional methods to reach an audience. However, in this new iWorld, people have to be reached another way. For example, UMass and Gillette Stadium should have some sort of daily marketing on Twitter. Gillette has more than 18,000 followers on Twitter, yet the UMass football team (a little more than 1,000 followers) is mentioned rarely. Of course, the Patriots are the No. 1 priority, but it seems that UMass should be able to fit in the cycle.
There are numerous other methods, many of which have been mentioned in the comment section of this blog.
The fact of the matter is that UMass promised a marketing blitz, but a blitz is something that finds you unexpectedly – it’s not something you seek out. Now we’re a month before the season, and I just saw my first billboard while heading away from Foxboro and toward the city.
I’m beginning to fear that the projected 15,000 per game attendance is going to come to fruition.