Sun Devil Laws Setting New Ad Standards

The Sun Devil Law marketing campaign isn't the first or the last series of advertisements promoting ASU football. However, it's by far the most impressive one to date. Devils Digest caught up with Steve Hank, Assistant Athletic Director for Revenue and Marketing, to discuss the campaign that's causing an unprecedented thrill with the maroon and gold faithful.

To say that this campaign is wide in exposure would be a gross understatement. These days it seems that every mall, every freeway, every bus stop in the county has a Sun Devil Law advertisement. So how does a successful campaign originate? A simple notion was actually what generated the process of shaping this promotion. "We were looking for a way to really communicate with our fan base," recalled Hank. "We went through a lot brainstorming sessions with our staff, and we came up with the Sun Devil Law campaign. We have high standards of excellence for the athletic department that we expect to achieve and we wanted to communicate that with the fans. We also wanted to communicate our expectations from the fans, and that's why we have the fan laws too. For example, ‘Arrive early. Stay late. Be part of history.' We're communicating what we want the entire Sun Devil experience to be about."

Arizona State operates in one of a handful cities nationwide that house four major pro sports teams. There have been theories that have suggested that the Sun Devil Law promotion was designed to counteract the NFL Arizona Cardinals, who are currently enjoying an all-time high in ticket sales and popularity. Hank was eager to set the record straight on this presumption. "This isn't about the Cardinals," he said. "This is only about Arizona State and reaching out to our fan base. We were up 13% in season ticket sales two years ago. We were up 27% in sales last year, and this year we'll be up again. So, we're on the upward trend. This is about us speaking to people who have interest in college football in the valley and capitalizing on the momentum of the athletic department."

The efforts of the marketing operations aren't just limited to outside of Sun Devil stadium, but also inside of it. Now that the maroon and gold are the only team playing in this venue, the marketing department has been able to implement some changes. "I can tell you that the fans will have some surprises in stored for them when they walk into the stadium on August 31st," claimed Hank, "and I'm expecting to get positive feedback from our fans on that. We're gonna recapture the feel of college football. We don't have to share the stadium anymore – it's ours and we own it."

The efforts of the ASU marketing department are evident in the Sun Devil Fan Stories videos that have been played numerous times during home games. Those videos are certainly not the run of the mill commercials for college football, and the high level of production is greatly evident in these pieces. "Our marketing department has worked very hard," remarked Hank. "There have been some changes in the staff, and with those changes there have been a lot of new blood bringing with them new ideas and new focus. They have brought fresh perspectives to the table such as our marketing videos. Everything we do, we have a commitment of doing it at a high level of quality. Wait until you'll see this year's edition – we'll have some real fun ones."

When speaking of the Sun Devil Fan Stories, we would obviously be remised not mentioning the video that has become an instant classic last year. We're obviously talking about the film featuring Tucson Police officer and avid ASU fan Wayne Jacobs. Hank admitted that seeing that film from start to finish was simply pure joy. "There's no greater reward for us to see the stadium react to that video," he said. "That stadium was electric and we had some fun with the fans showing that film. We heard the boos of the fans (when Jacobs is introduced in his Tucson Police garb), and that's why if you notice we specifically didn't have the lead-in window of Sun Devil fan stories. That was one the more rewarding moments of my career here at ASU, and we're real appreciative of Wayne Jacobs and his willingness to catch all the flak for that. I'm sure it's not easy to live in Tucson and be a Sun Devil fan."

Hank stated that the Sun Devil Laws campaign will be department wide and will promote every single Sun Devil sport for at least two years. These days the final touches are being put on the Men's Basketball Sun Devil Laws. "One of the things that are happening right now at Wells Fargo Arena is that we're changing the floor," said Hank. "Everything for us in basketball is a new era and a new beginning. We also came up with a campaign of ‘All Hands on Dek' to communicate that things are different. We're communicating the commitment that coach Herb Sendek has in taking the Sun Devils to the level that it needs to be at. You'll see changes to the interior of the concourse of the arena and they'll be a different attitude in the way we play. We'll start running out TV commercials in September."

A campaign's success is obviously measured by ticket sales and attendance. Nevertheless, the reaction Hank and his staff have received concerning this promotion has been communicated through various other channels. "We did get an amazing amount of feedback through lots of phone calls and emails," described Hank. "This campaign embodies one word – passion. We're communicating with people the passion we have as a department for succeeding. There's a strong passion for us to be excellent in everything we do. The laws convey that. What we're hearing in the feedback is passion and excitement from the fan base."

"We do conduct several focus groups a year, where we do bring fans in to voice their opinion," continued Hank. "We bounce ideas off of fans, asking them which campaign they think they will like. We're constantly gaining feedback from our fans. We can also tell by the number of phone calls and emails we received, as well as the media coverage, that there's definitely a buzz about the Sun Devil laws campaign."

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