Capitalizing on a Promotion Opportunity: Local Newspaper Takes Advantage of the Success of the University of Arkansas Basketball Team

Article excerpt

Local newspaper takes advantage of the success of the University of Arkansas basketball team

AS THE UNIVERSITY of Arkansas Razorbacks basketball team fought its way toward victory in the NACA national championship, its local newspaper, the Northwest Arkansas Times, Fayetteville, Ark., planned and strategized with equal intensity.

"It was fly by the seat of our pants with all departments involved," said Carman Cullen, and manager of the Times.

Realizing the significant promotional opportunity that the championship presented, the staff of the 14,500-circulation Times began preparing a battle plan weeks before the finals.

About two weeks before the title game, the Times arranged to contract with Front Page Inc., a national firm that reproduces and distributes T-shirts bearing newspaper front pages.

At the same time, the Times started planning a special 64-page tabloid-sized retrospective called Season of Dreams, and the section was pre-sold to advertisers on the condition that the Hogs advance to the Final Four.

Eventually the staff sold 30 pages of advertising at $8.13 an inch, for an ad/edit ratio 48.8%, Cullen said.

When the Razorbacks advanced to the Final Four, the Times announced the victory with towering headlines, generating a record-breaking single-copy sales increase of 176%.

That week, the newspaper designed and printed spirit cards with "HOGS Win it All!" and the Times logo printed on the front. On the reverse side, 14 advertisers bought space, paying $60 for a two-by-four inch ad, Cullen said.

Times sportswriters carried about 2,000 of the cards with them to games, distributing them to the crowd. During the games, fans flashed the cards, allowing the Times logo to be seen on national television.

On Monday, April 4, the Razorbacks won the national title. At midnight after the championship game, the Times sent a fax of its front page to Front Page, Inc.. The next day, T-shirts with a picture of the front page went on sale in sporting goods and department stores on the East Coast and in Washington, D.C.. The Times will receive a 5% royalty on all shirts sold. …