When you think of elite college football teams, schools with a storied legacy such as Alabama, Ohio State, and Florida State most likely come to mind. Their ascent to this point, however, did not simply occur overnight. It is instead the product of brilliant branding and marketing tactics that helped propel these teams’ overall awareness, perception, recruiting, and finances to this high level of success. The University of Oregon is widely considered the “poster child” for this idea, as they have assembled one of the strongest and most esteemed collegiate athletic programs in the entire nation.
The University of Oregon, located in the city of Eugene, began competing in intercollegiate athletics in 1877, just one year after being founded as an institution. It now supports 17 varsity athletic teams that compete in the Pacific 12 Conference at the NCAA Division I level. The Ducks began their journey to superiority after a journalism major named Phil Knight graduated from Oregon in 1959, and eventually went on to become the co-founder of Nike along with track and field coach Bill Bowerman in 1978. To this day, Nike has been the official uniform and apparel sponsor for all of Oregon athletics.
These uniforms represented the first defining moment that set the Ducks apart from its competitors, as their flashiness and variability immediately drew in continuous attention from media outlets all across the country. The most significant impact resulting from this is that the uniforms became an extremely appealing feature to prospective recruits who are seeking to join a program built with exhilaration at its core.
A second crucial approach that the University of Oregon takes when it comes to marketing its athletic programs is utilizing the Junior Duck Club. Geared toward young fans under the age of 12, this program is sponsored by various area businesses and offers multiple perks to members who pay the $10 entry fee. These benefits include a free t-shirt, a birthday card from the Duck, an option to purchase one football ticket for only $25, and an official membership card for Oregon events. In addition, members enjoy priority general admission to most athletic events and the opportunity to purchase tickets for two non-conference Men’s Basketball games. This serves as a great way to build a loyal Oregon fan base from one generation to the next.
Another marketing tactic that is key to the Ducks’ success is their strong social media presence, mainly through Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. They employ techniques such as appealing infographics, in-depth game breakdowns, and social media campaigns to increase the awareness of their brand. In the 2014 College Football season, the hashtag #GoDucks was the most tweeted team hashtag among all college football teams, proving the point that Oregon is among the top brands in intercollegiate athletics. While the Ducks are in action on the field, the social media team is hard at work providing creative content, live updates, and visually captivating graphics to attract new fans and maintain current fans who follow them on social media. These social media interactions consist of coach and player interviews, new uniform reveals, and highlight videos.