On July 15, Mizzou fans took over Busch Stadium to watch the Cardinals go up against the Marlins. This event was part of the launch of a new initiative to co-brand college sports with Major League Baseball. To celebrate the new licensing partnership, the staff at The Mizzou Store and New Era Caps offered Mizzou fans a chance to win two tickets to the game, a one-night stay in a St. Louis area hotel and three MU/Cardinals caps.
In order to qualify, participants had to explain why they were the most passionate Tigers fan.
According to Marketing and Strategic Communications Manager Heather Birk, this was the first time they’d done this type of promotion on this scale.
“We typically give away tickets to the game, but we wanted to do something even bigger this year,” she said. “There’s an obvious Cardinals-Mizzou connection and we tapped into that.”
The promotion resulted in a reach of 21,650, with 85 conversions on the store’s website and more than 90 fans chiming in with their stories.
The comments ranged from tributes to lost loved ones and their devotion to the Tigers to long lists of all of the fan’s family members who were or are die-hard fans of the team.
However, the winner’s story had the trump card of a life-or-death scenario and an unexpected hospital visit. He explained how a perforated intestine kept him from attending a much-anticipated Mizzou game in 2015, but that friends and family kept him updated even while he was in the ICU. He credits his devotion to the team with making the experience more bearable:
I am a graduate of Mizzou (class of 91). I had tickets for myself, my kids and a best buddy to attend the BYU game in KC at Arrowhead Stadium last November 2015. However, instead of going to the game, I spent 38 days at Barnes Hosptial recovering from a perforation in my intestines that the fine surgeons at Barnes took care of with emergency life-saving abdominal surgery. My wife and a buddy kept me updated on the BYU-Mizzou score while I was in the Barnes ICU. Mizzou's win in that game was definitely a boost for me and a lift for my emotions as I recovered. Am I telling all of this to tug on your heartstrings? Sort of. But it's also the truth and time frames and such can all be verified. As someone who grew up in Northeast Missouri, a 4-year degree Mizzou graduate, and then a St.Louisian of 25 years, seeing my two favorite teams - Mizzou football and StL Cards baseball together on one cap admittedly makes my heart pound a bit faster. Whether I win the tickets or not, I sure hope I get to go to this game and you can bet I'm going to buy one of those caps! Thanks for the chance to tell my story.
Despite officially only having one winner, Birk said that they were so moved by many of the stories people shared that they decided to give away three additional caps.
The New Era Cap promotion was representative of The Mizzou Store’s social media strategy as a whole, which puts a team of students in control of brainstorming and developing social media content.
Under the direct supervision of Birk and E-Commerce Manager Morgan Joy, these students work through Trello to communicate and collaborate despite different schedules.
“We currently have five Mizzou students here who are responsible for our social media content. Since they don’t work at the same time, we use boards to share ideas and brainstorm with each other. It’s an efficient process for us — we have content scheduled till October — and becoming comfortable with collaborating digitally will help our students down the road in their careers.”
“I’m proud that our students are developing our content — it helps us stay authentic, and they do a great job,” Birk said.
“That being said, the review process is essential,” she continued. “Sometimes they’ll have ideas that I’ll have to wrangle them back from, that simply wouldn’t work for the consistency of our brand. At other times, their ideas are awesome. Our “Countdown to Football” campaign is one of our most popular ones and it’s entirely student-developed.”
Cross-promotion is another essential part of the process. The Mizzou Store's social media team posts actively on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest in order to spark as much engagement as possible.
“Knowing who your audience is and having them involved is really important. That means that the platform we choose depends on what we’re promoting,” Birk said. “Our reminders about early-bird textbook reservation have been most successful on Twitter. Woolly Threads (a new product line for the store) is doing well on Instagram, where 80% of our audience is female. Mizzou fans and alumni are definitely on Facebook.”