Marketing Genius from Maple Creative


Marketing tips, observations & philosophy, plus a few rants and random musings - from those who practice, preach and teach marketing, research, advertising, public relations and business strategy.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Marketing an Athlete: Pat White for Heisman

West Virginia University's athletic department and its head football coach have decided to actively promote Pat White as a Heisman Trophy candidate. White, the Mountaineer's talented and accomplished quarterback, has all the right stuff. He's a great kid with a wonderful attitude, plus phenomenal athletic skills. Perhaps most importantly, he is a proven winner.

Details of the University's decision (a no-brainer in my opinion) and Pat White's credentials are well documented in today's Daily Mail column by sportswriter Jack Bogaczyk.

Here's my question to you, marketing geniuses: What would you do to generate publicity and create buzz in support of Pat White to maximize his chances of winning the coveted Heisman Trophy, college football's top individual honor? Put your sports information director (or athletic director) hat on ... and let's have some suggestions. Please post your suggestions as a comment below.

By the way the award is decided by a voting process by the members of the Downtown Athletic Club of New York. It will be awarded in early December of 2008. More about the award here.

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Anonymous Jeff James said...

personally, I don't think the high-profile campaigns really work...the big campaigns you've always heard about in the past were usually centered on athletes that pretty much didn't have a real chance of winning. Throwing a lot of money behind a kid like that almost makes it seem like you're trying to prop him up.

I would take a much more targeted, behind the scenes approach and cultivate relationships with the actual Heisman voters. Less glitz, but more crediblity and relationship building.

4:47 PM

Anonymous Clint said...

I would agree that Pat will deserve some votes.

They need to do some type of funny/creative viral video and spread it on Youtube

6:43 PM

Blogger Skip Lineberg said...

Thanks for adding your perspective. I think you are on to something.


12:42 AM

Blogger Skip Lineberg said...


Great idea! And there are plenty of video clips of Pat White on YouTube. Perhaps they need something that transcends. Thank you for sharing your perspective with our community of marketing geniuses.


12:44 AM

Blogger Lee Kraus said...

Great post. This is a really motivating topic and one that is fun to consider (for us Mountaineer fans). I think that you have to create a buzz among the blogesphere and bulletin boards or forums (still very popular among sports fans). You could do this with user generated content and targeted engagement campaigns. I would maybe target the nationally televised games and get the fans really active the weeks leading up to those games.

9:51 AM

Blogger Skip Lineberg said...

Great idea! And there are plenty of video clips of Pat White on YouTube. Perhaps they need something that transcends. Thank you for sharing your perspective with our community of marketing geniuses.


11:43 AM

Blogger Skip Lineberg said...


Thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation. Great point about the fan site bulletin boards and forums. I like the way you're thinking. Much appreciated!


11:44 AM

Blogger Wabi-Sabi said...

This is a great topic. I like the subtle approach too, but think a coordinated campaign could still be helpful.

I wonder if playing up an Against the Odds or a "for the love of the game" type angle might work.

Something that focuses on how Pat White just wanted to play QB and win. He got his chance at WVU and since he refused to lose in the Louisville game as a freshman, he has kept on winning - not for glory, but for the love of the game.

He was drafted and could be on his way to the Major Leagues in baseball, but he wanted to lead his team, the Mountaineers, to victory on the grid-iron. He's the best athlete on the field and just like in the sand lot, he's playing QB the most exciting way possible.

Forced to watch his team struggle against USF after being injured, he rallied his team to the verge of a national title last year. He was so determined he came back against Pitt and almost pulled out the win.

Then, when his glamorous coach took off for "green"-er pastures, he defeated the mighty Oklahoma Sooners in a dominating fashion.

Now, with a down-to-earth awe-shucks coach Pat White once again is leading his team to victory. During his career, he's won more games than (fill-in-the-blank) and helped WVU become a true contender for the national title.

Rich Rodriguez is Ann Arbor. Steve Slaton is in the NFL. But Pat White is in the classroom Monday through Friday and winning games on Saturday's in October.

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2008 Heisman Trophy winner, Pat White!

P.S. An added benefit of this approach is he gets the pro Pat White vote PLUS the anti-Rich Rod high priced coach vote, which could be a significant voting bloc among the press. :-)

2:34 AM

Blogger Skip Lineberg said...


Thanks for your comments, Jim. I think you have it dialed it on the underlying story and theme: "Here's Pat White, who just wanted to play QB and win. Despite the odds, the tempting corollary offers and overcoming much adversity, Pat White did it. He played QB. And he won, prolifically." Great stuff, Jim. Thanks for adding to the converstation here.


11:05 AM


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