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|The winning team from LSBE's Sports Marketing Class at the 2012 Viking Draft Party. From left: Ashley Asbach, Kari Jechorek, Callan Young, and Brita Kotilinek.|
|UMD Sports Marketing class team member Kari Jechorek looks on as Vikings Draft Party participants Tweet and facebook their results from the "Are You Smart Enough to Be a Viking" test.
Each year, university marketing students across the country write proposals for “pretend clients” that are quickly forgotten once the class is over. Stephen Castleberry, professor of marketing, at the Labovitz School of Business and Economics, wanted to avoid this ho-hum scenario for a new Sports Marketing class he was offering.
"I contacted Erin Swartz, marketing manager of branding and promotions for the Minnesota Vikings, and asked if there was some way my class could benefit the Vikings. She immediately thought of the Vikings Draft Party," Castleberry said. The Vikings Draft Party is held each spring at Mall of America Stadium where fans watch and celebrate the owner’s picks in the draft of new players for the team.
The result was a unique opportunity for Castleberry’s class. The Vikings wanted a significant fan interaction event at the 2012 Draft Party. The event needed to reach the appropriate target audience; create excitement, fun, and buzz around the event; communicate the Viking’s brand, handle significant throughput of fans; work within the budgetary limits; and be innovative in design.
Teams of students developed events and then made presentations to members of the Vikings marketing department. Best of all, the winning student team actually ran their event at the Draft Party, and other students from the class were given the opportunity to help out at various fan interactive booths and enjoy the festivities.
The winning team, consisting of Brita Kotilinek, Ashley Asbach, Kari Jechorek, and Callan Young, designed an event called “Are You Smart Enough to Be a Viking?” It was based on the Wonderlic Test, a test that each Viking player is required to take.
The student team created a modified version of the test, incorporated tablets provided by Verizon (a Vikings Draft Party sponsor), and added social media features so that participants could Tweet their test results or post them on facebook.
“To see our event come to life was awesome,” Kotilinek said. “It attracted people of all ages, and they really loved the social media aspect of it.” Kotilinek believes that her team’s use of tablets from Verizon was a strong factor in their winning. “We were one of the few teams that incorporated sponsors.”
Kotilinek, who graduated in May 2012, enjoyed the opportunity to share her team’s proposal with the Vikings marketing team. “It was fun to display what we learned. I am definitely a much better public speaker after my presentation.” It is also an experience she’ll draw upon in her career. “Hands down, this was my favorite class at UMD.”
Dannon Hulskotter, director of marketing and business development with the Minnesota Vikings was impressed with the class's efforts and the winning team's work. “The participation in the 2012 Vikings Draft Party by the UMD Sports Marketing class was greatly appreciated by the Vikings organization. Students generated a number of ideas that would be exciting and beneficial for our fans. The winning team was very professional in their execution and did a tremendous job of engaging Vikings fans that were in attendance. Ultimately, we selected their idea because it allowed us to expand our social media presence for the Draft Party while activating with an important corporate partner in Verizon. We look forward to future opportunities with Professor Castleberry and the UMD Sports Marketing class.”
Plans are underway for an upcoming UMD Sports Marketing class to make presentations for the 2013 Viking Draft Party.
|The 2012 Viking Draft Party|
Written by Kathleen McQuillan-Hofmann, November 2012