MAAC Kicks Off Marketing For Basketball Championships

Aug. 11, 2011

EDISON, N.J. - "The Road to MAAC-achusetts" began on August 3 with the MAAC hosting a meeting with marketing representatives from each MAAC school at Siena College. The in-person meeting represented an expanded commitment by the MAAC, its member institutions and its partner arena, the MassMutual Center to increase brand awareness and marketing collateral around the new neutral site venue in Springfield, Mass. that will host the Men's and Women's Basketball Championships from 2012-14.

The directors heard presentations from Rich Oriolo, a principal with Stafford Sports, the MAAC's arena consultant on the process that led to the site selection by the MAAC Council of Presidents at their December 2009 meeting. He also detailed the league's partnership with the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the hosting agreement and the availability of the Hall for many of the league's events including its Preseason Awards Show on October 25 at 10 a.m.

Presenting at the meeting were Marissa Skibbe, Joseph Flanagan and Nathaniel Harris from the MassMutual Center. Skibbe outlined a number of marketing initiatives for the championships including: league wide advertising through ad space on institutions' athletics pages and basketball media guides, in-game promotions where fans can win tickets to the basketball championships through an on-court contest at regular season games, and grassroots marketing efforts in the MAAC member communities through an on-campus student marketing team.

One interesting new marketing element for the championship will be the QR Code Challenge on each campus. A QR code, or quick response code, is a specific matrix barcode with information encoded that can be read through QR readers, smartphones and computers with a webcam. With the QR Code Challenge, students will compete to get as many scans from their unique QR code placed on the back of a t-shirt. The QR code will activate a video created by each school promoting the tournament. The winning school will be eligible for a prize package.

"There are great synergies developing between the Championship marketing team and the MAAC," says Marissa Skibbe, Global Spectrum's Director of Marketing at the MassMutual Center. "Together we have created an extensive and fun plan that is moving like a well oiled machine. We can't wait to see the creative elements come to fruition."

The group also viewed a presentation by Ticketmaster representative, Casey Macdonald, who explained how the arena's Ticketmaster system can provide marketing elements for the member schools to utilize, including email lists, the ability to brand on e-tickets purchased by consumers, and the ability to tie in sales of programs, merchandise and hotels. The system also has the capability to provide the schools with analytical data about ticket purchasers. Ticketmaster also has social media elements that fans are able to use to follow the MAAC and its schools, see who else is attending the same event they are interested in, and to seek ticket purchasing options.

Richard Ensor, MAAC Commissioner, also reviewed the MAAC's new webcasting alliance between six of the member schools and the conference office that will allow fans to view the majority of MAAC basketball contests through the league's webhost, NeuLion. Details on this program and pricing will be announced shortly. Ensor noted, "It's the league's goal to provide easy and affordable access to our fans for as many of its men's and women's basketball contests as it can. The members are excited about the new webcast access portal and our continuing relationship with ESPN that covers traditional broadcast options."

All-sessions tickets for the MAAC Men's and Women's Basketball Championships at the MassMutual Center will go on sale to the general public on October 25 in conjunction with the MAAC's Preseason Awards Show at the Basketball Hall of Fame.

The hashtags #MAACHoops and #MAACachusetts on Twitter will be used when discussing the upcoming 2011-12 MAAC Men's and Women's Basketball season and championships.