How Texas A&M absolutely killed it with Johnny Manziel Heisman Campaign
A Heisman Trophy winner can do wonders for their university. Everything to bringing the school into the national limelight to increasing the flow of donations. So how the school’s athletic and marketing department position their candidate can make or break an athlete’s chances of winning arguably the most prestigious award in college sports.
This year, Texas A&M faced the uphill battle of marketing their superstar, Johnny Football…err…Manziel, to land the Heisman Trophy. Sure, Manziel had the numbers to make a strong case, but no Freshman had ever won in the history of the award. It didn’t help the Aggies Head Coach, Kevin Sumlin, has a policy that does not make Freshman available to the press either. Plus, he faced a tough oppoonent in Manti Te’o, from the #1 Notre Dame Fighting Irish who endured a world of hardship in his personal life to get to be the dominate linebacker that he is.
But Texas A&M proved up to the task by launching an all-out marketing blitz to make sure their guy would win. Jason Cook, Texas A&M’s vice president for marketing and communications and the athletic department went digital with their strategy creating a Johnny Manziel-centric website, www.heisman.aggieathletics.com.
“Our fans wanted billboards and blimps, we had a website,” Cook said. “And it proved to be extremely successful.”
Although, their digital strategy was central in their approach, they definitely went somewhat traditional as they placed a giant Johnny Manziel billboard smack-dab in the middle of Times Square after the win. Which ultimately helped the university capitalize on the win unlike Oregon in 2001. Luckily, A&M’s $500,000 investment proved to be a wise one, especially when Oregon spent half that on their “Joey Heisman” 10-story billboard alone for Joey Harrington BEFORE the vote – a unsuccessful attempt.
New York City was not the only area in which Johnny Manziel’s smiling face was featured as Texas A&M made it a truly national campaign as they had over 400 billboards across the country and purchased ad space on ESPN.com, SI.com and USAToday.com.
Overall, Texas A&M’s marketing team had a succinct approach to the marketing Johnny Manziel that didn’t stop after the win – which can often be the crucial aspect that is glossed over. It will be interesting to see how these efforts surrounding the Heisman campaign translates into more donations, ticket sales and overall support for the athletic department and school.