How to Engage Millennials in Supercross? Ask Millennials for Help.
By Caitlin Franz
After a $400 million renovation creating the world’s first motorsports stadium, Daytona International Speedway was looking to use its new and improved space to enhance the current fan experience and draw in a new group of fans: millennials.
Who better to reach millennials than millennials themselves?
Daytona International Speedway teamed up with long-time business partner FOX Sports to capitalize on FOX Sports University which provides real-world advertising and marketing experiences to college students. Students spend a semester developing ideas, concepts and campaigns for FOX Sports businesses and affiliated partners.
For the Speedway, FOX Sports reached out to the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications (UFCJC), their first partner in FOX Sports University which launched in 2008. The program has since grown to include 35 universities.
UF students were tasked with highlighting the updated speedway and creating a strategy that would entice millennials to attend motorsports events. They developed concepts for television and radio advertisements, as well as social media campaigns, using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat as the primary platforms.
“Our goal was to pull out the best ideas and provide the resources to execute them and make them a reality,” said Julie Giese, vice president of marketing and communications at Daytona International Speedway. Giese said working with students re-energized her team and reminded them why they do what they do.
“The level of student in that class was top-notch. You feed off of that energy,” she said. “We’d love to do this every semester.”
Students in the course are split into teams. Each team cultivates a strategy and deliverables for FOX Sports throughout the semester. Executives check in with the students around midterms and review their progress and provide feedback.
The teams pitch their ideas in a formal presentation to the clients at the end of the semester. One team’s project is chosen, and the students’ ideas could be implemented.
Advertising student Cameron Riley was one of four students on the winning team this semester assigned to develop a marketing and branding strategy for the DAYTONA Supercross By Honda 2017. He has been invited by the Speedway to work as a consultant on the project until the event’s completion in March 2017.
The team’s campaign focused around a four-word slogan: Dirt. Throttle. Passion. Daytona. They believed that these words captured the essence of the supercross race, which features the toughest course in the circuit, the fastest riders, the most passionate fans and the best racing venue.
“The winning presentation captured both the essence of the Daytona International Speedway brand and all the elements surrounding the DAYTONA Supercross By Honda in a clear and succinct manner,” Giese said. “We know that will resonate with both Supercross fans and millennials who are not as familiar with the event.”
Dr. Robyn Goodman, associate professor of advertising, teaches the “Advance Creative FOX Sports” course, which is available by application only; students must submit work samples to be considered for the course.
“The class gives students with a creative orientation and outlook to work professionally on an assignment and spread their creative wings,” Goodman explained. “It also helps them realize that creative is not done in a vacuum and there is a lot involved to bringing together a campaign and that is what FOX Sports University allows the students to do. “
She said it can be hard to watch each team of students develop their ideas, knowing that only one group can be chosen. However, she believes that’s part of how the course prepares them for a career. “It’s a good life lesson, and it’s a hard lesson for most people to learn,” she said.
The course benefits students by providing them with an opportunity to work with a client, receive constructive feedback and gather portfolio material.
Kaitlyn Beale, senior manager of strategic partnerships at FOX Sports, said the company has hired 50 interns and full-time employees as a result of this program.
Several hundred employees within the business are now involved with the FOX Sports University program. Many of these employees work on projects that involve their alma maters.
“Every organization we work with — every one — believes in higher education and giving back,” Beale said.
Caitlin Franz recently graduated from the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications with B.S. in Journalism.