Adventures in Branding: Michigan Football

By Ramzy Nasrallah on May 21, 2014 at 11:30a
DOWN IN FRONT GODDAMN IT
83 Comments

Dave Brandon is only guilty of trying to fulfill his first promise.

He pledged to protect the Michigan brand from the moment he was hired:

(Michigan athletics will) craft the message a little better in the media in terms of who we are, what's going on here and why it ought to be attractive to people.

Damn straight. Forget allowing the most iconic uniform in the history of football, the college game's winningest program, the largest stadium in the country and that imitable death march its band never stops playing to do all the heavy lifting - what Michigan needed most was a brand manager. Brandon descended from his worst-in-class pizza empire to help save it.

haaaail

But how exactly would he accomplish that?

How can we leverage what we have, who we are, and take it up a notch? I've hired a chief marketing officer...who is doing some terrific stuff with social media and the way we're marketing our tickets. 

Just Be Michigan had previously been sufficient to fill the Big House ever since Michigan football was revived by Bo Schembechler. That meant competing for titles, being excellent and simply fulfilling the promise of its legendary product jingle: Victors valiant, conquering heroes, etc.

That just won't cut it today. Not anymore, dinosaur. You gotta sell the stadium experience.

So we'll skip the facility upgrades, thr0wb@ck uNifoRmz, the new stadium tour pricing for school children that had previously been free for decades as well as the logarithmic increase in spending under Brandon, free from pesky faculty budget controls - since he removed them - because we have to break down this ad which is allegedly promoting Michigan group ticket sales.

This must be that terrific stuff Brandon was talking about with social media and ticket marketing:

The Michigan Difference™
                                                                                                                                                                                    Via

This campaign was very meticulously crafted with protecting the Michigan Brand™ in mind. Let's dig into the message behind the message:

1. It's a beautiful sunny day in Ann Arbor.

Everyone pictured appears to be wearing shorts, suggesting this is a glimpse into the future at a raucous bunch of chums enjoying the early part of the 2014 season schedule. By way of deductive reasoning, we can use these clear skies and exposed calves to conclusively determine this party is going down at one of the following can't-miss showdowns: Appalachian State (8/30), Miami-OH (9/13), Utah (9/20) or Minnesota (9/27).

It's not Penn State - an October night game - or the Indiana/Maryland combo that arrives in the post-shorts month of November. In all likelihood this is a snapshot of the Minnesota game Little Brown Jug Spectacular™ at the Big House®. <------ do it, Michigan. Dooooo ittttt.

2. It's all about the stadium.

Michigan Stadium's 2014 visitors rival Ohio Stadium's 2013 guests for ear-splitting 18-second five-octave fart noises. And in case you forgot, Michigan football also dropped six of its final eight games to close out last season. That energy you feel in the air around Michigan football this season isn't clean energy - it's more like the kind of energy that makes Geiger counters beep.

So of course going to the games is now about the stadium - that's currently the strongest asset in the portfolio. Ride your freshest horse to victory.

3. This could be you and your friends.
HAAAAIL

That is, if you and your friends are the types who own and wear cheaper, non-replica Michigan jerseys that say Michigan across the front. Granted, those jerseys were likely used to get as much Michigan (three times) into the picture, along with the block M (four times) because:

Dave Brandon: The Block M brand has always stood for excellence.

...and the more excellence you can cram into your brand, the more excellent your brand will be. 

Separately, these guys are all friends. This is Michigan's target demo for group ticket sales - but where do these rowdy middle managers hail, hail, hail from? Is it Grosse Pointe, Grosse Pointe Woods, Gross Pointe Shores or Gross Pointe Farms? You can't tell. That's diversity with a purpose. Effective mass marketing is always inclusive.

There's a guy wearing a #37 jersey, which hasn't been sold in Ann Arbor since Erick Anderson played 23 years ago (and any excess inventory was cleared out when Jarrett Irons left shortly thereafter). That jersey is older than every player on the current roster, especially current #37 sophomore linebacker Bobby Henderson.

Note the guy behind #37, visibly frowning. That's because #37 is almost standing up. You should not attempt that in Michigan Stadium. This is skillful subliminal messaging for proper stadium behavior. The university is committed to protecting its Stadium Experience™.

4. WAIT - WHY IS THIS GUY STANDING UP?

DOWN IN FRONT OR SECURITY WILL BE CALLED. M FANS PAY GOOD MONEY FOR UNOBSTRUCTED COMFORT.

A fixed version of this ad should be out shortly with this vulgar ruffian photoshopped to show properly-seated enthusiasm - like his compliant buddies - or being led away in handcuffs.

5. Discounted tickets! Whoa, tell me more.

(eyes pan down to first bullet point for details)

"Special Ticket Prices"

Right. We figured that's what discounted tickets meant. Michigan, you tease.

6. "Exclusive Experiences and Added Value Opportunities"

An actual human could not have written this copy, because actual humans don't use terms like exclusive experiences or added value opportunities. This is empty corporate jargon used by boardroom titans like Brandon, who operates on D-cell batteries and leveraged debt assets.

All of these exclusive, ambiguous perks could be yours: They may even include a functioning offensive line or watching Appalachian State walk solemnly off the field for the first time in Michigan Stadium history. 

7. "Want More Information?"

You're goddamn right I do.

8. The Fine Print

Oh.

It turns out this campaign's sole purpose is to get Michigan fans' contact information. This ad offers no details to what comes with a group ticket package, so you're supposed to be stupid intrigued enough to give out your digits, email and whatever other fields are required in order to unlock the specifics.

If you sign up and you're not interested, it doesn't matter - you're now on the solicitation list for a product whose value is in decline. This is not the first time such a dip has occurred with a flagship brand on Brandon's watch.

Let's check in with current Michigan senior Bryan McWethy:

Remember: Brandon pledged to protect the Michigan brand the moment he was hired. Rehabilitating and enhancing its image was his primary mission.

Michigan stakeholders must be anxiously awaiting the beginning of that rehabilitation. Any day now, sir. You may begin protecting the Michigan brand at your leisure.

83 Comments

Comments

BierStube's picture

 

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

+26 HS
jamesrbrown322's picture

Dude in the background is pretty hilarious too. He looks like UM's football team has for most of this decade...lost and confused.

 

"I can accept failure, but I cannot accept not trying." - W.W. Hayes

+10 HS
AndyVance's picture

I've often wondered if that guy's confusion later turned into anger and binge drinking:

 

+4 HS
Shangheyed's picture

Could have been me back in the day... No idea what that guy was doing but seems a bit extreme.  Bring your own pepper spray... see how they like it. 

+1 HS
gm3jones's picture

Not fun at all. I had to do it for my security training while in the service, and it was by far the worse pain I have ever felt before. Worst part is the pepper spray boogers you get. Those cause reflashes for days! Weird thing is a small percent of people it does not effect at all ( I only knew one guy my whole time it didnt really affect) and water is an activator! Loved seeing people trying to wash it off with water. And this is considered non-lethal force so it as long as he gave him a verbal command, tried to cuff him or use soft controls (grabbing his hand, use flex cuffs, etc) and that failed, he is able to spray him.

There is nothing more remarkable as learning to think better.

buckeyedude's picture

I've seen this GIF a million X, and always thought he looks like he's trying to figure out who just farted.

 

 

cronimi's picture

That's an auto-upvote gif right there. 

brumon's picture

Does anybody know specifically what these people are reacting to? Which game?

 

EDIT: dumb question. Just noticed the scoreboard in the corner

brband64's picture

I think they're interchangeable.

+1 HS
Hovenaut's picture

 

"Success...it's what you do with what you got" - Woody Hayes

+15 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

Hot cheerleaders crying is definitely worthy of a plus one 

+1 HS
BierStube's picture

 

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

+17 HS
BrooklynBuckeye's picture

"Those that stay will smell the fart."

+4 HS
OSUpawn's picture

Fan A:  What stinks?

Fan B:  Us!!

I believe the SEC players put their pants on one leg at a time like we do.

AndyVance's picture

A fixed version of this ad should be out shortly with this vulgar ruffian photoshopped to show properly-seated enthusiasm - like his compliant buddies - or being led away in handcuffs.

Anyone else notice that while his chums are throwing up their index fingers in remembrance of long ago days when TTUN might have claimed #1 status, this ruffian is throwing up #2... Subtle, graphic arts genius.

+6 HS
BierStube's picture

 

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

+13 HS
ISURVIVEDCOOPER's picture

Clearly they are trying to implement a CRM platform on a campaign that just... well, let's just say that in advertising we have a wall of shame, and this one is certain to go on it.  I'd love to know what else their CMO came up with to justify Brandon's choice for creating this position.  One would think that the CMO would be for the entire university, and not just the athletic department.

"I don't apologize for anything.  When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there." - Woody Hayes

+2 HS
OSUpawn's picture

Nice read Ramzy.  Funny stuff.  Their program went from the tank to the bowl and now trapped behind $hit.

I believe the SEC players put their pants on one leg at a time like we do.

+2 HS
Urban Nation Army's picture
And here's your result:
15 minutes before The Game
 

Bet you can't say "Bert Bielma is a bumbling buffoon" five times fast.

+6 HS
BierStube's picture

That picture looks as though it was taken in September ... when they still had hope.  This is what it will look like by year end ..

 

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

+4 HS
Urban Nation Army's picture

As funny as your comment is, I took this picture shortly before kickoff of The Game this past season. It is important to notice, however, the scattered scarlet throughout these sections which were in the area with the least OSU fans.

Bet you can't say "Bert Bielma is a bumbling buffoon" five times fast.

+1 HS
buckeyeEddie27's picture

This actually makes me feel a little sorry for th- hahahaahha no, no it doesn't. I was gonna say screw Michigan but they're doing a fine job of it themselves.
Go Bucks.

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

+4 HS
BuddhaBuck's picture

1. It's a beautiful sunny day in Ann Arbor.

But wait, it's so beautiful and sunny that there are TWO suns.

Don't text while driving.

+27 HS
Ramzy Nasrallah's picture

But wait, it's so beautiful and sunny that there are TWO suns.

BAH GAWD THERE ARE TWO SUNS. How did I not notice this?

brandonbauer87's picture

It takes every bit of two suns to light up Michigan. 

+14 HS
BuddhaBuck's picture

Feel free to attribute your oversight to one of the following: (1) food coma from Catullo's bacon; (2) morning bourbon; or (3) a combination of 1 & 2 (which honestly sounds incredible right now).

Don't text while driving.

+1 HS
AndyVance's picture

No, clearly Ann Arbor is on Tatooine:

 

+24 HS
BuddhaBuck's picture

Andy, this explains a lot actually... That actually looks like young Skywalker is rising out of the Big Toilet, er, Stadium.. 

 

Photoshop Friday opportunities abound...

Don't text while driving.

+4 HS
AndyVance's picture

You know, the amount of symbolism tied to the #2 in this image is pretty telling. The guy on the right flashing deuces, the two suns, the two guys wearing the exact same scowl in the back row... Apparently there's a fair amount of subconscious self-loathing going on in the U of M marketing department these days. Sammy Silv envy, you suppose?

+4 HS
jbuckeye007's picture

Love it the The Big Toilet....   I always call it the "Big OUT house"

brband64's picture

Nailed it. Ann Arbor = Mos Eisley: you will never find a more wretched hive of scUM and villainy.

+12 HS
BierStube's picture

Which further explains this!!

 

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

+15 HS
NitroBuck's picture

Ahh, but it does add a bit more relevance to your not "clean energy" comment.

Ferio, tego

+1 HS
bedheadjc's picture

Edit: was beat to the JJ Abrams joke...well played...

 

Buckeyeneer's picture

This realization made me happier than I feel on a really sunny day. I couldn't be happier if there actually were two suns shining down on me.

God bless you, Sammy Silverman.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes
THE Ohio State University

Squirrel Master's picture

It might make you happier than this guy is for two rainbows,

 

I saw a UFO once.......it told me to have a goodyear!

+4 HS
BrooklynBuckeye's picture

Never seen this video. It made me very happy.

Poison nuts's picture

That was the funniest video I think I've ever seen. Wow! That dude was sky HIGH on whatever. 

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

+1 HS
Buckeyeneer's picture

On second look, maybe JJ Abrams was involved.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes
THE Ohio State University

+2 HS
bedheadjc's picture

Damn you, I was going to go with this.

buckeyeotaku's picture

i count three suns and a crotch that all get the same lighting ! i wonder what Freud would have to say about that.

We don't give a damn for the whole state of Bichigan

Jdadams01's picture
Michigan recruiting mail to Mike Weber:

"Amercian". 'Nuff said.

+13 HS
hodge's picture

People still read ESPN the Magazine?

+9 HS
wibuckeye's picture

All-Amercian???  Nice spell checker.

WIBUCKEYE

+7 HS
CowCat's picture

AMERCIA, FUCK YEAH

"We get paid to score touchdowns, not kick field goals"
-- Urban Meyer

+6 HS
jedkat's picture

 

“The teams that don’t respect their coaches and don’t trust their coaches are the teams that go .500"
~Zach Boren

+6 HS
meddler's picture

It pierces because it's true. Expect Cook to link to this in the next UV.

Location: Ann Arbor

+1 HS
Spirit's picture

I LOVE 11 WARRIORS AND EVERYONE ON  HERE! Those skunk weasel faces were the high point of my day!!!!!

Spirit

+1 HS
NuttyBuckeye's picture

I will say this, I hope our beloved Ohio State never falls to this level of football...  It is a sad day for scUM fans, true.  Please Urban, Archie, and others, study this situation to understand and learn what scUM has done/is doing wrong, and NEVER, EVER let it happen in Columbus.

Marc Pocock (a.k.a NuttyBuckeye)

You can take the man out of Ohio, but you cannot take the Ohio out of the man. Go Bucks!!

+6 HS
brband64's picture

In the original image at the top, it looks like the guy in the middle (wearing glasses) is still wearing original piss yellow maize, while his buds on either side are sporting the new pissier yellower flourescentier adidas sun garb; in fact, I think there's actually an adidas logo on guy right's shirt. Now THAT'S subtle.

kholmes's picture

A lot of the negativity around Brandon around tickets is coming from the poor 2014 home schedule. This really took a hit when the Big 10 forced Michigan to face MSU on the road for 2yrs in a row in order to integrate the new divisions and Maryland/Rutgers in the scheduling.

This has created a amazingly huge disparity between the quality of 2014 and 2015 home schedules for Michigan. Look at the difference between these two:

2014 Home: App St, Miami (OH), Utah, Minnesota, Penn St, Indiana, Maryland

2015 Home: Oregon St, UNLV, BYU, Northwestern, Michigan St, Rutgers, Ohio St

 

+7 HS
ajbosu1's picture

Big difference, to be sure. That said, Brandon/Hoke stated that back-to-back roadies in East Lansing "were no big deal." 

Hubris, ladies and gentlemen.

+3 HS
jamesrbrown322's picture

At first I asked myself, "Why didn't they include a woman in the rendering, to at least try and reach them?" And then I remembered what *ichigan women looked like, and realized that NO ONE really wants to see that...
 

"I can accept failure, but I cannot accept not trying." - W.W. Hayes

+3 HS
ibuck's picture

That dog must be from Ohio; look at him going after the blue pompom.

Ohio dog slogan: Chew Blue !

Our honor defend, we will fight to the end !

+7 HS
Shangheyed's picture

Somebodies getting a steak dinner.... you can bet back at the Tailgate, they were singing praises of the wee lad. 

+2 HS
NitroBuck's picture

If I was a Michigan man, I would really want to know where I can get me some of them radioactive corn and blue argyle knickers.

Ferio, tego

Jack Fu's picture

Never forget: the "branding expert" in charge of Michigan's athletic department once thought it was a good idea to serve pasta in a bread bowl.

 

+4 HS
stevebelliseeya's picture

I'm gonna say that looks delicious.

"We are eternal. All this pain is an illusion." - Tool

+3 HS
jedkat's picture

I'd like a side of protein with my carbs, thanks.

“The teams that don’t respect their coaches and don’t trust their coaches are the teams that go .500"
~Zach Boren

+5 HS
stevebelliseeya's picture

I'm just hungry after the brownies I just ate is all.

"We are eternal. All this pain is an illusion." - Tool

-1 HS
DJ Byrnes's picture

i would need at least $100 to be seen in public with any of these michigan men. is that a beret???? sometimes life is the best parody.

Californian by birth, Marionaire by the Grace of President Warren G. Harding.

CowCat's picture

Apparently these Michigan bros are really into pointing upwards

"We get paid to score touchdowns, not kick field goals"
-- Urban Meyer

ISURVIVEDCOOPER's picture

Was their guy with the cap supposed to be a subtle homage to our late Neutron man?  Enquiring minds want to know!

"I don't apologize for anything.  When I make a mistake, I take the blame and go on from there." - Woody Hayes

+1 HS
1MechEng's picture

RIP Orlas King - a.k.a. Neutron Man.

Meatchicken can try to imitate him, but will never duplicate him.

+1 HS
DMcDougal24's picture

It's like nobody up there has a clue what they're supposed to do. 

 

+1 HS
CowCat's picture

Sssshhhhhhhh. Don't tell them

"We get paid to score touchdowns, not kick field goals"
-- Urban Meyer

Floyd Stahl's picture

I don't know about "the most iconic uniform in the history of football," but I do know that when Brandon is emphasizing the "experience," what he is really saying is that it's all about the $$$ (for the athletic department).

Funny how Domino's rebranded itself, was revived and took off after Brandon left.

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

Ah these crack me up! 

Go Bucks!!

CowCat's picture

Pride comes before the fall.

 

 

"We get paid to score touchdowns, not kick field goals"
-- Urban Meyer

+2 HS
buckeyedude's picture

How do we know that those " M fans" in that picture aren't paid actors?

I mean really. I don't think I've seen TTUN fans that happy.

 

 

+4 HS
Seattle Linga's picture

Well said Buckeye Dude - awesome

ATT2121's picture

I might get down voted for this but I'm really tired of having The Lord's name taken in vain in articles. This isn't about beliefs one way or the other but it is extremely offensive to myself and others. I love this website and the interactions with other fans but I can no longer over look this.

 
 

"It all goes so fast, and character makes the difference when it's close."
Jesse Owens
 

East _ sideline's picture

Ugh, as if just being a fan these days wasn't punishment enough.

Tried to be the next coming of Yale Van Dyne.

Humbuck's picture

Brandon marketed crappy pizza to drunk college kids and fat losers. He is perfect for the UM job.  A terrible product with zero redeeming value sold to suckers at a premium price. 

 

+1 HS
MGoSilverback's picture

I'm a little late to the party, but as you can imagine, I had to go through some roadblocks to get here.

The jersey is vintage.  My mother bought me a Jarrett Irons #37 the day I was accepted into UofM in the Fall of 1994.  I haven't found the need to upgrade, even though I'll be the first to admit that it fits a little tighter these days.

The irony is that this advertisement was also lambasted on MGoBlog, where the criticism was more vicious and personally directed at my personal appearance.  Who would have thought that Buckeye Nation would have less trolls??

Regardless, I find the attention amusing.  God Bless The Rivalry.

 

 

 

 

MGoSilverback

+3 HS
AndyVance's picture

Who would have thought that Buckeye Nation would have less trolls??

Well, most everyone here, actually. Regardless, welcome to the community. There are a few brave and valued members here who have likewise admitted their affection for That Team Up North, so here's hoping you can, like them, prove that not all M*ch*g*n fans are bad eggs.

osubuckeye4life's picture

This Ramzy piece and thread is amazing! Well done.