You may have missed the news, but on Monday the Big 12 Conference, of which WVU is a member, issued a press release regarding a new partnership.
It signed on with independent creative agency Translation “to contemporize the brand and scale its national relevance to appeal to a younger, more diverse audience. As its lead agency, Translation will work with longstanding Big 12 partner LDWW to develop the Conference’s brand narrative moving forward.”
Fans may shrug their shoulders. But this is an important move. It’s a smart move. Because times they are a’ changin’?
No. Times they HAVE changed.
And now conferences like the Big 12, schools like WVU, heck, businesses must change with those times.
Wheelhouse Creative digital media specialist Ty Thorngate, also an avid sports fan, knows.
|“Over the last handful of years, the lines between sports, fashion, music, technology and community have blurred,” he said. “Athletic programs have begun to reimagine how they can interact with their supporters and their region. As teams and conferences continue to realign, the fight for consumers’ attention is only going to get more difficult. You can either adapt and diversify or you can kiss your supporters goodbye.”
In case you’ve missed the news, Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) college football average attendance declined for the seventh straight season last year, and the 2021 average attendance (39,848) was the lowest number since 1981. The per-game national decline of 1,629 fans in 2021 is the steepest ever, a 3.93 percent drop from 2019.
And it’s not just access to games on TV or the Covid fears. This has been trending for a while. The old guard who could be counted on to buy and attend games are, well, getting old. The young guard has more entertainment options, and its attention is more difficult to capture.
That’s why the Big 12’s new commissioner, Brett Yormark, is throwing this punch.
“It is critically important that we continue to align the Conference and its member institutions with partners that know how to innovate and elevate us,” said Yormark in a press release. “Translation’s legacy in creating culturally rich content and experiences on behalf of major sports leagues and brands makes their team a perfect partner to bring the Big 12 into its next wave of growth.”
The Big 12’s release said Translation “will offer strategic, cultural, and creative expertise to co-author the next wave of brand growth. Translation will reimagine how the Big 12 shows up in youth culture, appealing to current and prospective student-athletes by bridging the worlds of storytelling and culture.”
It’s about capturing the attention (and, yes, dollars) of the younger market as well as appealing to recruits, networks and possibly even new members.
It’s about turning heads. It’s about marketing.
“We’re looking forward to bringing the Big 12 brand to untapped audiences, creating a new standard for how a sports conference shows up,” said Steve Stoute, founder and CEO of Translation.
Should be fun to watch how the league “shows up” in the future.
It’s a strategic, smart move by Yormark. He gets the way the world is changing and how strong marketing can help.
A good move by him. A good lesson for others.
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Mitch Vingle covered sports in West Virginia for 38 years. Follow Mitch on Twitter at @MitchVingle and be sure to check out the rest of Wheelhouse Creative’s website for your marketing and advertising needs. If interested, call us at 304-905-6005.