Big ideas don’t necessarily come from big agencies. They come from wherever inspiration lies. In the case of the new Minnesota Timberwolves image campaign, the big ideas came from a group of students at the University of Minnesota’s Strategic Communication Program.
“Our idea was to kind to reach people like us,” said Kelsey Batkiewicz, one of the students who worked on the campaign.
Batkiewicz’s class of nearly two dozen students divided into three teams and worked on competing strategies and pitches on the Timberwolves marketing campaign for Fox Sports North.
The creative concept of the thirty-second image spot she said was to have a live wolf walking through a snow covered basketball court and past TV monitors containing fast paced imagery of Timberwolves highlights on FSN. [Figure 1]
“Well, the snow was actually made out of paper, which is really funny. It looks so real in the commercial,” said Batkiewicz . “And so it’s really that contrast from the cold winter to the awesomeness that’s inside the target center and what goes on during those games.”
The promotional video as conceived by Batkiewicz’s team and produced by FSN uses no announcer’s track, only metaphorical imagery designed to make the viewer elaborate about the fast-paced excitement of watching stars Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love play on television. The communication strategy peels off the screen. [Figure 2]
Additionally, the students collaborated with FSN on creating a social media campaign and hashtags, one of which is #WolvesAreComing, to help create a social community for the buildup of the new season.
The competition is a collegiate outreach effort of Fox Sports called the Fox Creative University. It collaborates with major universities in each of the markets where Fox Sports has a regional cable network to give students an opportunity to contribute to a real-world marketing campaign.
“Everybody is trying to figure out what’s the future, what’s going to trend with the younger audience,” said Mike Dimond, Fox Sports North Senior Vice President and General Manager. “It’s really an opportunity for us to learn as much as it is for them to learn.”
The students’ professor, Dr. John Eighmey said there was really no secret to their success. “I just taught them the concepts, and they created their own ideas and ran with them,” said Eighmey.
Dimond said his team at FSN was so impressed with the students’ input on the Timberwolves campaign that they’ve gone back to the U of M and Eighmey’s current strategic communication students to have them design the media campaign for the 2015 Hockey Day in Minnesota.
“I don’t think I could have had any better experience during my time at the U of M,” said Batkiewicz. “It was hands down the best.”
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Disclosure: Fox Television Stations, where I am currently employed, along with Fox Sport North are both divisions of 21st Century Fox. Additionally, I hold a Master of Arts degree in strategic communication from the U of Minnesota School of Journalism and Mass Communication, the same school attended by Ms. Batkiewicz. I was neither paid nor encouraged by any of these organizations to write this blog post.