How a Sports Event Created Interactive Branding

For a V.I.P. tailgating event, the Pacific-12 Conference showcased its brand with social media contests, roving mascots, and more.

By Jenny Berg January 14, 2015, 8:08 AM EST

Photo: Douglas Taylor

Pac-12 V.I.P. Tailgate Event
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Before the University of Oregon's football team competed in the national championship game on Monday, it faced the Arizona Wildcats in the Pacific-12 Football Championship Game at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California. The December 5 game marked the first time that the collegiate sporting event took place at that stadium. That meant the annual day-of tailgate party, organized by staffers of the Pacific-12 Conference, also had a new home.

For some 1,500 fans and partners, the conference's events and marketing team organized a gathering at the new Great America Pavilion adjacent to the venue. The venue offered access to theme-park-appropriate perks, including one in particular that had guests buzzing. “The integration of the roller coaster as an event activation was very well received and a differentiating factor for guests,” said Heather Vaughn, the conference's vice president of marketing.

Along with entertaining guests, organizers used the event as a showcase for the Pacific-12 brand. Each of the 12 mascots from the organization's collegiate football teams appeared at the tailgate party and stopped into the lounge area to play games with guests. A social media contest invited guests to post to their accounts with the conference's hashtag, and those did won branded scarves. On a chalkboard wall, sports fans could also leave messages for their favorite teams. “Whether fans were harnessing social media to earn giveaways [or] rubbing elbows with Pac-12 mascots ... attendees were participants in the event rather than spectators,” Vaughn said.

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