Heisman Trophy Marketing Campaigns

Colleges are now running “campaigns” for the Heisman Trophy, the award given annually to the football player “deemed the most outstanding player in collegiate football” by the Heisman Trust. One might think that the Heisman Trust had enough expertise on its own to figure out the best player, but these days it appears any award can merit some marketing work.

According to an article by Greg Bishop in the New York Times:

Heisman promotions have become more prevalent, more over-the-top and more creative in recent years. This week, Southern California started a campaign for its electric receiver, Marqise Lee, that included a highlight video with music from the Beatles and clips from opposing coaches extolling Lee’s talents.

Texas A&M took the opposite approach. In most cases, A&M’s vice president of marketing and communications Jason Cook] said, the more gimmicky promotions came from smaller universities, or bigger universities in conferences that received less exposure, like those on the West Coast.

A&M is eschewing a Heisman campaign this year, banking on freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel’s sheer awesomeness as a football player to lead to a possible Heisman.

Well, that and that fact that A&M this season joined college football’s most visible and prominent athletic conference, the Southeastern Conference, meaning that Manziel will receive media extensive coverage at no cost to the university he attends.

In the past, according to the Bishop article, Brigham Young mailed neckties to Heisman voters (for player Ty Detmer), the University of Oregon put a billboard in Times Square (Joey Harrington), and Rutgers sent binoculars to voters (Ray Rice) instructing them to “See Ray Run.”

The last five Heisman Trophy awards went to players from Baylor University (2011), Auburn University (2010), University of Alabama (2009), University of Oklahoma (2008), and the University of Florida (2007).

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer