The word family is more than just a word, at Mississippi State it is a way of life. The word is used throughout the community, fan base, and the Athletic Department. The Mississippi State athletic department takes great pride in the state of Mississippi as a whole, including incorporating all counties no matter how small. Another branch of the Mississippi State Athletics would the use of Starkvegas which has taken root in all of the collateral material for this year. Additional, another item that continues to be consistent for all material is the emphasis of Maroon and White.
Looking at all of the posters side by side one would be able to compare the similarities and consistencies between the 12 different sports. All the posters do a great job highlighting the distinctive colors of Mississippi State Athletic teams. The contrast of the darker grey and white allows the maroon to come across as a bolder color. The incorporation for the StarkVegas sign and other landmarks for the Starkville area are in the foreground all the posters. This allowed the posters to create more depth and dimensions; as well as, continuing to promote the grassroots of Starkville. Lastly, and the most attention-grabbing feature would be the texture and paper effects to all the poster. Not only does the contrasting of colors make a lasting statement, but the smooth, shiny texture that is over all of the student-athletes allows the sense of touch to experience the material.
Athletic Facility Branding Upgrades
Our staff has worked diligently to continue the process of updating and enhancing the branding throughout our athletic facilities – with the goal of ensuring our primary mark is in sight at nearly every turn possible when entering or walking through a venue. Many of these projects have been managed in partnership with Adidas, and co-branded in order to share costs and maximize branding for each party.
HUMPHREY COLISEUM: New artwork throughout the Mize Pavilion, including new uniform displays, wall wraps and paint. As well as new artwork throughout both the men’s and women’s lockerooms and team tunnels.
GOLF FACILITY: New artwork in all hitting bays, and new logos on all doors.
DAVIS WADE STADIUM: New window wraps in the club level lobbies, new wall wraps and logo additions in the recruiting lounge, new exterior stadium banners, and all new branding in the M-Club building.
SOCCER OFFICES: New wall wraps in all coaches offices
Alumni Delegates & Diamond Girls
To enhance fan experience at our athletic events, we utilize two on-campus organizations, Alumni Delegates and Diamond Girls. For football and basketball, the Alumni Delegates serve as liaisons from our marketing staff directly to the fans. At football, the Delegates are placed at each entrance into the football stadium to pass out gameday stickers and to answer questions about the game and the facility. For basketball, the Delegates help pass out gameday programs and answer questions about the facility. The Alumni Delegates are a great asset for us because they are MSU students and are clearly visible at events due to the maroon blazers they wear at events. Our staff meets with them every year to discuss plans for the season and how important our partnership means to the athletic department.
The Diamond Girls are a long-time tradition at MSU Baseball. This student organization is made up of young women who are fully knowledgeable of all things MSU Baseball. The Diamond Girls pass out programs, answer questions, provide lineups and are there to answer any historical and campus related questions. Each year marketing meets with them to discuss ideas for the season and how to better fan experience at baseball. The Diamond Girls also help see through certain Maroon Memories such as “Diamond Girl for the Day,” where two kids between the ages of 5-12 can follow along with a Diamond Girl during pre-game and through the first three innings of a game.
FROM STATE TO… CAMPAIGN
In order to promote the success of our student athletes, we launched a new campaign in 2016 and have continued to expand that campaign this season. This campaign is intended to show our student athletes that although you leave the campus of Mississippi State, you never leave the Bulldog Family. This year, we trademarked the following mantras for this campaign:
From STATE to SUNDAYS From STATE to the SHOW From STATE to the TOUR
These mantras are used on billboards, in social posts, in facility branding efforts, and in video efforts. As was referenced in the BASEBALL FAN EXPERIENCE section, we have branded all references to our Bulldogs in the MLB under this mantra – including highlighting one MLB player on every midweek game ticket, adorned with the State to the SHOW logo, highlighting all of our MLB players on the video board at games, by showing a game season highlights reel during pre-game and a weekly highlight package on one player at each game, as well as even expanding the campaign to facility branding in the coach’s office building. The State to the TOUR campaign was launched in the same fashion as the Sundays initial billboard campaign, by launching digital billboards and social media graphics on the day Ally McDonald received her LPGA tour card in 2016.
BULLDOG LEGENDS SERIES
Mississippi State Athletics and its constituents take great pride in producing student-athletes and coaches who are talented in and out of athletic competition, and we saw the need to further honor these outstanding legends. Last year, we partnered with Learfield Licensing Partners (a trademark management company specializing in collegiate licensing and branding) to create “Bulldog Legends,” an exclusive program developed with MSU sideline partner adidas to celebrate former Bulldog Athletics greats. With conceptual input from our department, adidas created unique looks for each of the three MSU legends included in the initial launch of the “Bulldog Legends” program. The inclusion of special design elements help to celebrate each athlete’s legacy and the era in which they starred for the Bulldogs. Those celebrated in this first collection include Will Clark (baseball, 1983-85), Bailey Howell (basketball, 1957-59), and Dak Prescott (football 2011-15). Learfield Licensing will work together with Mississippi State Athletics/Marketing and trademark licensing, along with adidas, to support the program at retail with signage, advertising and social media. This campaign was expanded in 2017 to additional retail and apparel items, and plans are in the works to add new student athletes and expand it even further.
PRO-BULLDOG / CROSS-PROMOTION
In strategic branding meetings over the last few years, we have made a more concerted effort to discuss additional ways to truly practice the “Once a Bulldog, Always a Bulldog” motto and keep our former players engaged and informed about MSU Athletics. Additionally, we wanted to extend the reach of our brand and aid in the cross-promotion of our former (and pro) players across sports. For example, former Bulldog football player Darius Slay shared a tweet that he wanted a custom MSU basketball jersey. Not only did athletic marketing work with adidas to successfully execute Darius’ request (which he also posted himself in the jersey), but we started planning for a future campaign across various sports and former players.
ADIDAS BRAND PARTNERSHIP
In an effort to strengthen our brand on a national level, we have greatly expanded our partnership with Adidas and their branding team to establish a strong relationship to promote each of our brands in mutually beneficial ways. Some examples of this include, a full campaign surrounding our women’s basketball rematch with South Carolina, new facility branding throughout multiple facilities, and new weekly releases of our football uniforms.
DESKTOP AND MOBILE WALLPAPERS
As a way to allow fans to display their Bulldog pride at all times, we worked to create mobile wallpapers for many of our sports this year. These wallpapers carried forward the style and brand from our marketing collateral, and were designed to be used for both the phone’s home and lock screens.
In an effort to promote our brand and initiatives in new and unique ways, this year we partnered with our Department of Residence Life to install new Hail State Rewards wraps in elevators in each residence hall to promote the program. Additionally, we installed wraps in the Davis Wade Stadium elevators promoting the Maroon Memory program and the new Athletics App.
Like any university, head football coaches will come and go as the years go by. But, each time one leaves, the athletic department prepares for the next hire. In November, Dan Mullen took off to Florida and Mississippi State was to announce a new head football coach for the first time in almost 10 years. It was imperative that we were prepared with a thorough, fully-integrated, digital marketing plan to welcome the new coach to campus, and re-energize the fan base and build a successful and exciting brand for our new football coach.
As soon as we got the news (9 PM), we headed to the drawing board (literally, we went straight to the dry erase board in our office) as we had only hours before the official announcement would be made (set for 9 AM the next day). We started by mapping out what the next 48-hours would look like as we prepared to announce Joe Moorhead as our new head football coach. What would be created, and when it would go out? Once rumors began to spread on social media about our potential next head coach, the hashtag #MoorCowbell began to take shape from our fans. As a team, we saw it, discussed its potential and ran with the slogan, which would end up being the foundation of our entire digital campaign and head coach announcement.
SOCIAL GRAPHICS: Our first step was creating a “Moor Cowbell” / Welcome to The Family graphic and animation to go along with the release on the website and social media. Next, we negotiated in a 12-hour period with our Billboard partners across the state to get #MoorCowbell on every piece of digital inventory possible – 70+ locations. We prepared the social media headers and avatars for all platforms, to be ready for a change to Moor Cowbell. We worked with our new coach to prepare to change his social media platforms over immediately when we posted the official announcement.
We created a “What they’re saying” segment on what talking heads and coaches around the country had to say about Coach Moorhead, which included graphics, emails, twitter moments as well as a video from our fans to Coach Moorhead.
BILLBOARDS: Our team saw the impact and the reach of the slogan in just a matter of hours. We contacted a local printer and had shirts printed with #MoorCowbell to have ready for his arrival at the airport and throughout all of his events for those first 48-hours.
WELCOME TO THE FAMILY: Via social media and email, we asked our fans to send in their own welcome #MoorCowbell message to coach. We compiled hundreds of videos, emails, and photos, and combined them into one “Welcome to the Family Coach Moorhead” #MoorCowbell video piece which was later posted to social media, and the letters/emails were printed and placed on his desk. The community saw this and embraced it. Welcome Coach Moorhead and #MoorCowbell was plastered on every storefront in the town.
PLANE TRACKER: We created a plane-tracker animation to announce Coach Moorhead’s arrival in StarkVegas, and invited fans to welcome him to StarkVegas at the airport. Once Coach arrived in StarkVegas he was met by thousands of his newest family members, greeted with #MoorCowbell signs, Bully, the Famous Maroon Band, spirit groups, and a maroon carpet.
CHEESE FRIES: On the first night of his arrival, we took him downtown and surprised students by having him pop up in a late night window to serve cheese fries, a local favorite late night snack, to students outside of a local restaurant and bar.
BASKETBALL INTRODUCTION: That evening Coach Moorhead was welcomed at a basketball game where #MoorCowbell was plastered on not only every social media profile in the state of Mississippi, but on our boards in venue, and on signs and t-shirts of fans. Through this integrated social and digital campaign, #MoorCowbell became a national trending slogan in just a matter of hours and a new brand was established at the helm of the Mississippi State Football program – #MoorCowbell was a digital promotion that took this hire to the next level and re-energized the fan base.
StarkVegas, Mississippi: Home to Mississippi State University. Home to the 2017 National Finalist Women’s Basketball team and rising Men’s Basketball team that combined, hold the nation’s best record right now at 43-6.
Heading into the 2017-18 season, we had high expectations for two successful teams and the crowds that would follow to support these teams throughout the season. However, what makes StarkVegas so special is the overwhelming support from the community. As a department, we wanted to find a way to tell that story in a unique manner. We wanted to find a way to say “thank you” to our fans, display the overwhelming support for these two programs from our diverse community, and promote both the men and women’s seasons ahead.
As we brainstormed on this subject, we came up with an idea – cover a 25ft wall in downtown with a mural dedicated to the teams and the support the community shows to them. This abstract piece of art was designed and printed in 16 individual pieces, each of which when looked at individually, appear to stand alone, with their own individual look and message. However, just like a team or a community, once each piece was placed together it became stronger than ever, creating a powerful mural made up of our players, coaches, and the community. “Together We Are Stronger” became the message at the core of this project, and the foundational message for the season to come.
To further illustrate the “Together We Are Stronger” message, we invited a diverse group of 16 representatives from throughout campus and the community to help us bring the mural to life. Each person was able to take one of the individual 16 pieces and adhere it to the wall. As each person placed their square on the wall, our creative team captured photo and video content to put together creative content which was used throughout the season to promote the “Together” initiative.
The video pieces were used on HailState.com, social media, within TV commercials, as well as in-venue. The individual squares have been used throughout the season as animations on our social media platforms, each with their own story to tell. As we approach post-season, we will be releasing an additional video segment to further highlight many of the special people within our community who support these programs.
All in all, the message presented through this campaign was simple:
StarkVegas: a community, a university, two basketball teams, and the individuals, that when put together create a “Stronger” team.
One major aspect of our branding has been working with our apparel and equipment provider in developing consistency in our uniform design across all sports. Through this effort, we have begun transitioning to using one primary mark on all uniforms – the M-State logo, and greatly reducing the use of secondary marks on uniforms. This has been an effort that will continue into future years, as we work to streamline the look of our uniforms, so that if the logos were removed, a fan would still be able to say “that’s Mississippi State!”.
END OF THE YEAR VIDEO
To wrap up the branding section, we wanted to share a large project between marketing and our video team that highlights the large accomplishments realized by our athletic department.