When Time Inc.’s Sports Illustrated and Boyle Public Affairs’ client the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association teamed up again this fall to produce a season-long, cross-country tour of some of college football’s most storied venues, we once again saw the partnership as both a challenge, and an opportunity.
There’s no doubt in our mind that tailgating, RVing and college football bring together three great American traditions, but in a crowded media landscape, the challenge is how to break through the clutter. We immediately recommended a local-market approach to the tour, doing separate, customized pitches for the ten local markets where the games would take place.
The 2015 Sports Illustrated College Football Tailgate Tour presented by Go RVing began its 10-city trek on Monday, September 7 in Blacksburg, Virginia when the Virginia Tech Hokies hosted the defending national champion and pre-season No. 1 Ohio State Buckeyes.
Like at every stop, there were fun and games for fans, an appearance by a local college football legend, a local chef cooking up tailgate fare, cornhole tournaments, a Sports Illustrated cover photo booth, and a virtual quarterback simulator – all surrounded by two, state-of the art RVs to elevate the tailgate experience.
But was there coverage? The short answer is yes, the most important being a local TV news piece with the spokesperson role handled deftly by, of all people, a local Macaroni Kids mom blogger named Jamie Clark, who turned out to be so good we flew her to New York and used her for a Fox & Friends segment the following weekend. Here’s the segment from WSLS-TV Daytime Blue Ridge that also promoted a local RV dealer by including a Lance Camper from Tonies RV in Salem: http://wsls.com/2015/09/04/daytime-dish-sports-illustrated-tailgate-tour/.
We took a similar, local-market approach in Michigan the weekend of September 12, when the Oregon Ducks faced the Michigan State Spartans in East Lansing. It was also successful in garnering local TV coverage, and it doesn’t hurt that two tailgate-ready RVs anchor the stops, providing the backdrop for a coast-to-coast party on wheels. The RV set-up includes large exterior TVs complete with soundbars and subwoofers, pull-out exterior tailgate bars, grills, outdoor refrigerators and interior space with more TVs and cameraman-friendly comfy seating.
As an extra bonus in East Lansing for client RVIA, we also generated trade coverage. RV Business sent a reporter and posted this story with slide show (that also appeared on the East Lansing NewsWire): http://www.rvbusiness.com/2015/09/slideshow-go-rvings-tailgate-opens-at-msu/ and http://www.topix.com/wire/city/east-lansing-mi
Other stops during this 3rd consecutive tailgate tour season will include Eugene, Oregon; Pasadena, California; College Station, Texas; Norman, Oklahoma; Auburn, Alabama; Clemson, South Carolina; and Starkville, Mississippi. The tour will conclude on Saturday, November 21 in Columbus, Ohio when the Ohio State Buckeyes host the Michigan State Spartans in a game that could have national title implications. A complete schedule of the tour can be found at www.si.com/tailgatetour. One thing we noticed right away is that most of the TV markets for the tour (Los Angeles excepted), are small enough – and college football-centric enough – to offer us great local market pitching opportunities, that so far we are taking advantage of!
On board for the remainder of the tour will be former college stars such as Oklahoma’s Billy Simms, Auburn’s Jason Campbell, Clemson’s Jeff Bostic, and Florida State’s Charlie Ward. Most of these former college stars are very well known in their respective local markets, but they have not been overexposed, another good combo for local market pitching!
Sometimes when you work on a project with a large company, especially a media company, you can feel like a speck on the wall. This is not the case at all with Sports Illustrated. They are on board in making the tour as media – and social media – friendly as possible. Check out the Tailgate Tour hub at www.si.com/tailgatetour for more information, including exclusive college football content, rivalry recaps, profiles of college hotspots, and deep dives on team traditions. Follow the conversation at #RVTailgateTour. To learn more about RV tailgating, visit www.GoRVing.com. And to learn more about Boyle Public Affairs, visit www.boylepublicaffairs.com.