We do a lot of cool, fun things in the marketing department at Grizzly Athletics. So many, in fact, that I don’t have the time to write about each one as they occur on a daily basis. However, when we do something extra cool, I do try to shine some light on it. This morning, Christie and I plus our army of interns set out on The University of Montana campus and hid 200 wallets over one of the most scenic places you can go to school at.
But before I go on about our morning, I do want to give credit to the inventor of this crazy idea. Kenny Dow, the marketing director at Portland State, thought up this concept while thinking of ways to increase attendance at Vikings’ sporting events. Don’t ask me how all the elements came to him but they did…and then he implemented it. Because Kenny’s idea had great success with the PSU students, and because he used to work for the Griz, and because Christie and I respect him so much, we borrowed his idea. Thanks, Kenny!
So what we did was we ordered a bunch of wallets for cheap. We then slapped Griz emblems on them and then we filled them with coupons for free frostys, free chili, free t-shirts, and a chance to win an i-pad (sorry for using the word “we”…I actually did diddly squat when it came to the preparation of the wallets…thank you interns!). In order for students to redeem the coupon for the free t-shirt and to receive entry into the drawing, they had to come to tonight’s Griz basketball game and turn in the wallets they found.
This morning at 7 a.m. we had seven of our eight interns show up to hide wallets. We met in our offices and then walked to The Oval, the center part of The University of Montana campus. After taking some pictures, the interns plus Christie divided into four teams of two people each. Each team took one of the four quadrants of the campus. Since I was the official photographer I acted as the rover and roamed from team to team, taking pictures and watching the hiding strategies of each group. Our marketing team hid wallets on benches, in trees, on the ground, under plants, and on top of signs. They hid them inside the library, the dining center, the University Center, the lecture halls, and the business building. They hid them in cacti, inside doors, and on statues. Yes, a great job was done by our team scattering the wallets in creative hiding places all across campus.
The interns met back in the office after the distribution of the wallets and they were all excited. They chatted happily about where they hid their wallets. They talked about encounters they had with the few people who were on campus at the time who had no idea what was going on. They explained why they either decided to hide their wallets in tough to find places or in spots where they would more easily be found. Everyone had a wonderful time this morning, including Christie and myself.
After the distribution of the wallets was complete, I transitioned into my main duty of the whole operation…connecting the promotion with social media! When we arrived back inside and out of the cold, I started to relay the rules and purpose of the wallet drop to our followers/fans on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Using lots of the photos I took, I tried to make sure that the students who had not found a wallet now had the heads up to find one while conveying at the same time to the students who had already found one what they needed to do to totally optimize their wallet discovery. After the ground rules were set, we started to have a little fun. We encouraged students who found a wallet to take a picture of them with it and then either post it on our Facebook page or Tweet it at us. Those who did so won one of our coveted social media t-shirts. We got a great response and once again it reinforced the power of Griz Social Media.
Finally, game time arrived. The student section filled up extremely fast as it was full fifteen minutes before the game was to tip off. From my vantage point at the music table, I could see lots of people with the shirts we were giving out for returned wallets. Things inside the arena started to pick up and I kind of forgot about the promotion for a little bit as I worked the game and watched our first place Grizzlies tangle with Sacramento State. But as things slowed down a little bit once the game entered the second half, I was able to quiz our intern Andrew on how many wallets were returned. When I asked him he said “Uh, only about 20.” Disappointment filled me. But then he added, “But we got a whole bunch of t-shirt slips back, well over 100.” You see, besides all the coupons we put in the wallet, we also put the basic rules of the promotion as well, much like the ones I put out in social media. However, on that sheet of paper we mistakenly omitted anything about students needing to return their wallets at the game in order to redeem their coupons/get entered to win the i-pad. So, what happened was that students found the wallets, took the goodies out of them, stashed the wallet in their apartment/dorm, and then just brought the paper coupons to the game. While we felt a little dumb because we would have definitely liked to get the wallets returned so we could just use them again next year instead of buying a bunch more, we got the satisfaction in knowing that the promotion worked. People found the wallets and then came to the game.
Right now as I write this, I only have Andrew’s estimation to go on in terms of quantifying our success. But soon I will have a more specific number to report and I will share it with you. The success of the wallet promotion combined with a great home win by the Griz and then topped off with the Lady Griz winning the Big Sky Conference championship has me grinning ear-to-ear right now. But what makes my smile extend even further is having the knowledge that our team of interns, working primarily free of charge, would sacrifice precious hours of sleep in their warm beds to help us hide wallets on a freezing Montana morning. Thank you so much Andrew, Brian, Gianna, Kylie, McKell, Mike, and Zach. Don’t Blink.