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Archive for Monday, March 7, 1994

SPORTS MARKETING

March 7, 1994

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Kansas University's hallowed basketball traditions make it easier for Ralph McBarron to do his job -- usually.

McBarron manages a partnership between his employer, Creative Sports Inc., and the KU athletic department to produce, sign up sponsors and sell advertising for the Jayhawk Television Network, coaches' radio shows and game programs.

Although strong fan support helps attract sponsors and advertisers, some traditionalists have complained about the number of corporate signs Creative Sports has sold throughout Allen Fieldhouse, McBarron said.

``One gentleman told me, `We think of Allen Fieldhouse kind of as a church,' `` he recalled. ``I told him, `Yes, and about three-quarters of the way through the church service they pass the plate to support things we do as a church. The signage is supporting the church.' ``

Even the seemingly inconsequential replacement of the old, hard-to-view fieldhouse clock caused a wave of opposition among the purists and led to a compromise -- when the new digital clock was installed, the old Longines clock was moved to another location in the fieldhouse, McBarron said

``There's nothing wrong with purists and traditionalists,'' he said. ``Those are the kind of people you need to have a great tradition.''

Creative Sports, a Charlotte, N.C., sports marketing and television production firm, came to KU in the 1988-89 season to develop the Jayhawk Television Network and last year signed a five-year partnership contract with KU. McBarron works in a cramped office tucked next to the breezeway between Allen Fieldhouse and Parrott Athletic Center.

Between ESPN, network television, the Big 8 network and the Jayhawk Television Network, McBarron said, ``there was not one single game at the fieldhouse this year that was not on TV.''

The Hawk Talk radio show, a live broadcast with either basketball coach Roy Williams or football coach Glen Mason, was moved from a radio studio to the Applebee's restaurant on Iowa Street to provide a ``more festive atmosphere'' and give fans the opportunity to get closer to the coaches, he said.

Creative Sports has focused on signing up Kansas City-area sponsors, such as Sprint, Applebee's and Payless Shoe Source, and seeks more than monetary support, McBarron said.

``Our philosophy in sponsorship is to give corporate partners a sense of association with the university,'' he said. ``Not just by selling radio or TV spots, but getting them involved.''

Sprint provides a toll-free phone number for Hawk Talk and Payless gave away tickets to this year's Kansas-Colorado women's basketball game, nearly filling the fieldhouse.

Creative Sports started the Crimson and Blue pregame show before football and basketball games this year, giving fans the opportunity to call in questions and comments.

``Next year the Crimson and Blue line will go statewide was well,'' McBarron said.

On the drawing board are plans to develop Jayhawk home videos, using archival sports footage that dates back to the 1920s, as well season highlights, McBarron said.

``It's one of the things we're excited about,'' he said.

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