Florida A&M University (FAMU) was faced with a crushing crisis following the hazing death of a member of the university’s world renowned Marching 100 band and the subsequent year-long suspension of the band. University Athletics had to act fast. The popularity of the Marching 100 had long been a major attraction for fans attending FAMU football games, and the suspension of the band could potentially have a negative impact on game attendance, fan engagement, and ultimately, ticket sales. A decline in game attendance could also impact local hotels and restaurants since many fans were overnight visitors from out of town.
We were added to the marketing team to develop an aggressive co-branded local, regional, and national marketing, public relations, grassroots marketing, and alumni engagement campaign in partnership with Visit Tallahassee to keep the crisis from impacting ticket sales. The challenge was to continue the excitement for the Fall 2012 football season, drive ticket sales to the home games, and attract overnight visitors to keep hotel and restaurant economic activity consistent with previous years.
As a result of this proactive marketing campaign, ticket sales did not skip a beat and fan engagement was at its highest. We were also able to drive positive earned media through an aggressive media blitz that promoted the football team as the main attraction despite the absence of the Marching 100. The media campaign resulted in millions in impressions from major broadcast outlets, including ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox affiliates; the Tom Joyner Morning Show, and even national print media including Associated Press, New York Times, Black Enterprise, Essence Magazine, Miami Herald, and dozens more. Integrated marketing campaign also included regional radio ad campaign, alumni and fan engagement, geo-targeted digital media, and social media engagement.
Since the band had been known to be a major draw for fans, we recreated the halftime show experience during the band’s absence with a high value
entertainment program that included pre and post game fan engagement with old school vs new school DJ battles and half time performances with national artists.