The SEC Network makes its debut August 28 with the broadcast of the USC football team’s home opener vs. Texas A&M. Six months before the Gamecocks and Aggies take the field, another set of teams at USC’s Darla Moore School of Business are developing marketing strategies to make sure the fledging network has a successful launch. USC Marketing professor Mark Newsome says the challenge for his four teams of 26 graduate students is to use social media to reach rabid SEC fans and college football fans in general.
“I definitely think that there is a pull through strategy where we a prompting consumers who want the network to contact their cable providers to carry the network, but I also think we are educating consumers that the network is coming.”
The teams will present their strategies to ESPN executives that they hope will be used by the new cable sports network.
Newsome points out that this is not the first time one his classes has worked with ESPN. Last summer, a group worked on early marketing strategies for the SEC Network. Newsome says ESPN, like many international brands, live on Facebook and Twitter, but through research his students came up with the idea that ESPN should also be using Instagram more.
“Some of the teams also recommended Instagram strategies after the research showed that Instagram right now, especially among the young demographic, the most widely used social medium mechanism that is used before and after SEC football games.”
Newsome says ESPN has chosen marketing strategies by USC students in the past and that’s one of the reasons the sports broadcast giant felt confident in coming back to the Darla Moore School. Newsome says the teams had to develop strategies in the narrow time frame of two weeks and that provided real world experience with real world pressure.
“They have to provide a real world solution within a real world timeline. That is what this class is all about, providing student with hands-on work experience sometimes with big brands like ESPN.”
Newsome says his students are calling the experience of working on the project invaluable.
“The feedback we get from the students is that it is unlike anything they’ve done before. They walk away from it feeling like they’ve really learn a lot, and accomplished something meaningful.”