A good marketing move is to align one's business or product with a winner, whether it be a certain celebrity, charity or sports figure. Or, in the case of Utah County, with the nationally ranked BYU football team.
NCAA regulations prohibit an athlete's involvement in commercial endeavors and endorsements. So, if you can't have Ty Detmer endorsing your suits, Chris Smith hawking your used cars, or Alema Fitisemanu plugging your newest condominium project, take the next-best thing. Take the team as a whole.The most obvious examples of sports-related marketing maneuvers are the most-valuable-player team awards - a la the Chevrolet Players of the Game in national broadcasts. It's an easy racket - just cough up some coins in the old college coffers for the general scholarship fund and stick your company name on this week's hero.
You'll remember Wilson Diamond's sponsoring the MVP awards for the BYU team a couple of years ago. And, thanks to the onslaught of commercial reminders, no one can forget that the MVP honors these days are courtesy of Geneva Steel. (A footnote - I'm anxiously awaiting the day when the weekly "Geneva Steelman" award is bestowed on a player by the name of Rusty.) Another marketing method is to have your business sponsor a contest that somehow is tied in with the BYU games - guaranteed to ensnare any faithful fan.
Tune in to the broadcasts of the BYU games as well as the radio and TV sports shows and talk shows, and you can be eligible to win all sorts of prizes - ranging from recliners to pen-and-pencil sets. All you have to do is perform some menial task or commit a certain play or score to memory.
Call in the announced midgame "mystery score" - AND WIN! Guess the final score at a local store - AND WIN! Count up BYU's extra points and field goals - AND WIN! Recite the certain play dubbed "the replay" - AND WIN! Have your question selected for use on coach LaVell Edwards' weekly TV show - AND WIN! One problem, though. There are fewer than a dozen such high-profile, full-scale weekly contests. That results in a lopsidedly low ratio of contest prizes to the sell-out Cougar Stadium crowds of 65,000-plus as well as the hordes who follow the games on radio and TV broadcasts.
And so, in fairness to the masses and in hopes of increasing the odds of more prizes to more fans, we offer the first few of many possible contests that have at least some semblance of tie-ins to BYU football games.
The Tossed Tortilla Total: To be sponsored by a local Mexican restaurant, this contest seeks an accurate count of all tortillas - corn and flour - tossed from the stands and landing on the playing field between the 20-yard lines. The contestant with an accurate count of tossed tortillas wins, of course, the whole enchilada. Ties require a sudden-death toss-off.
The Wave of Indignation: Participants are to identify those several dozen people throughout the stadium who take it upon themselves to be the instigators of "The Wave" in the stands. The contestant who spots the most frequent Wave-creating offender wins, earning the right to help him or her into a form-fitting straitjacket and lead the crowd in one final wave - a "goodbye" wave as the offender is shown to the exit.
In the Nickname of Time: BYU Sports Information conducts this contest, aiding its never-ending quest to come up with creative, catchy nicknames for players or squads - recent examples include Ty Harder II (Detmer), Town Bluesmith (Smith) and Nab-and-Tackle Choir (defensive players). The nicknames are part of a player-promo package of paired centerfold photos - no, not that kind of centerfold photos - in the weekly game programs.
For example, a photo of the BYU defensive linemen atop Mount Timpanogos would be labeled as "the Wa-Sack Front." Or, in a take-off of the wishbone and flexbone offensive formations, a portrait showing the Cougar backfield among the scattered dinosaur skeletal remains stored under the stadium stands would beg for the caption of "the Dino-Bone Offense."
The Cougar Calculus Contest: The formula regulating this contest is as simple as the one used in determining a quarterback's passing efficiency.
Total the jersey numbers of the BYU starting linebackers and multiply that by the number of TV timeouts in the game. Add in the yardage of the longest Cougar punt as well as the highest dollar amount asked by a ticket scalper in front of the stadium. Add the average age of the BYU defensive backs minus the number of vowels found in the last names of the Cougar receivers who catch a pass. Divide that subtotal by the number of Cokes you drank - decaffeinated Cokes, mind you - and add in the Cougars' combined current national-ranking places in the AP and UPI polls for your grand total.
Anybody coming up with even an educated guess at the correct total in the Cougar Calculus Contest is given a slide rule and a full refund of the cost of their ticket . . . because, just like the winners of other similar contests, they weren't really watching the game that closely.
(Scott Taylor, Provo, is a staff writer for the Deseret News Sports Department.)