Selling the Valero Alamo Bowl

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Dec. 14, 2012

Selling the Valero Alamo Bowl

Students in advertising and public relations classes team up to work on communication plans for San Antonio’s premiere college football bowl game.

Trinity students pitch to a marketing team with the Valero Alamo Bowl
Advertising and public relations students pitch their ideas for promoting the Valero Alamo Bowl

 While the University of Texas at Austin and Oregon State are the main attractions for the 2012 Valero Alamo Bowl , they are not the only universities to take part in San Antonio's biggest college football event. Trinity University students had the opportunity to get involved with the advertising and promotion of the game.

Valero Alamo Bowl 20th anniversary logoAs part of a group project for Principals in Advertising, taught by Jennifer Henderson, associate professor of communication, and Principals of Public Relations taught by Sean Wood, adjunct professor, students in both classes teamed up to develop creative solutions to challenges faced by the Alamo Bowl marketing team.

Earlier this year, Henderson came into contact with Rick Hill '91, vice president of marketing and communications for the Valero Alamo Bowl.  Hill had worked with Jacob Tingle, director of Trinity's sports management minor, on another project and had heard about a communication class that worked with the San Antonio Spurs. Henderson and Hill decided to get students involved with a real world marketing project

Client Meeting

In October, Hill and Lara Smedley, Valero Alamo Bowl senior manager for events and marketing, first met with each class for client meetings. During the meetings, Hill and Smedley presented three issues facing the Alamo Bowl:

  • Promoting bowl week events.
  • Engaging fans socially during bowl week.
  • Promoting a ticket plan for a bowl game with teams that have a potentially smaller fan base.

"We were mostly looking for outside-the-box ideas that we might have not tried in the past," said Smedley, about the client meeting. "It's nice to get a fresh perspective on what fans want."

Creating Student Agencies

After the meetings, the professors took the students from both classes and divided them up into eight teams and each team could pick one of the three challenges presented during the meeting.

Once the teams were formed, the students created their own companies to pitch their marketing solutions.

Lara Smedley and Rick Hill of the Valero Alamo Bowl"One of the first things each group did was to come up with a name, a logo, and a mission statement for their agency, what would set them apart from other agencies," said Henderson.

With names such as Ripple Effect, Trendslation, Hashtag, and Beehive, the new communication agencies had six weeks to prepare a presentation for the Alamo Bowl staff and to create a detailed strategic plan to give to their clients (and to the professors).

Working mainly outside of class, the student agencies had to perform a client evaluation, an evaluation of the event, and profiles of the target audience. The agencies also had to create creative solutions for radio, television, and print as well as develop social media plans to engage fans on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Plus, they had to come up with a budget for the campaign.

Senior Katrina Lichtenberg, a communication major from Brenham, Texas, said working with the deadline was one of the biggest challenges of the project, "but it was ultimately rewarding because it reflected real world turn-around times for proposals or putting together a pitch.

Pitching to the Valero Alamo Bowl

On the Friday before Thanksgiving, the student created agencies met with Hill and Smedley and formally pitched their presentations, which included sample radio spots, television, commercials, and newspaper ads. Among other creative solutions pitched to the client were:

  • Developing a Twitter competition between fans using hashtags like  #VAB(team name).
  • Creating a "bromance" campaign involving tickets, golf, beer coupons, and a koozie for men attending the game.
  • Installing life-sized decals of the top 20 players of past bowl games across downtown.

"All groups did a great job of our researching our organization and understanding the challenges," said Smedley, after the marathon pitching session. She added the Alamo Bowl planned to incorporate some of the students' ideas into this year's marketing campaign.

"We were very proud of the presentations.  I think they could compete with a lot of real world agencies," said Henderson. "In the end, I think the students thought the project was beneficial to them. They have a portfolio piece they can use for the real world."

"The course pushed us in many ways - we had to work together with a varied group of individuals, we had short deadlines, and we had to be creative on demand," said Lichtenberg. "For anyone looking to enter the field of strategic communications, mastering these skills is essential." 

The Alamo Bowl was so happy with the student's work, it posted videos produced by the students on their Facebook page along with a big congratulations on their projects.

-Russell Guerrero '83