Unverified Voracity Requires Kerosene

Submitted by Brian on August 22nd, 2011 at 12:26 PM

Kill it with fire.Last year some horrible, horrible hip-hop artist whose songs should be titled "Making You Want To Die Part VII," "Making You Want To Die Part VIII," and so forth and so on, released some fake pump up video that momentarily panicked the fanbase into thinking we'd Freekbassed ourselves.

[By MGoLaw every mention of We Are ND must be accompanied by We Are ND:

We remain in full compliance.]

We had not. Nor have we this year when some horrible, horrible hard rock outfit attempted to pull the same trick with their song "Making You Want To Die Part IX". Should I even link this monstrosity? I will but only if everyone signs a blood oath to never support the people responsible for this.

/blood oath signing music

All right. It's here. The worst part about all of this is that someday the Assistant Vice Associate Athletic Director For Making Michigan Stadium Wicked Sweet is going to hear one of these things and think it is a good idea instead of a malformed baby we should leave on the mountain to die.

That last part is not a joke. Multiple people have sent Lucy Ann Lance's interview with the new chief marketing officer along because of an ominous passage towards the end of it.

The middle of the article has an extensive discussion of ads in Michigan Stadium and how they will never happen. While I'm grateful for that I wonder if the guys in charge of this stuff have any idea why that's important to the fanbase. I don't think they do:

Lucy Ann: Any other changes that you have coming out regarding branding of the University of Michigan?

Lochmann: Event presentation and how people experience the brand at our events is a big part of building the brand, and we are in the midst of hiring some event presentation folks to really focus on making it a wow experience for our fans who go to basketball, hockey, football, soccer. It’s not just a PA announcement.

Lucy Ann: More entertainment?

Lochmann: Exactly. We really want to make all Michigan Athletics a destination for sports fans.

"It's not just a PA announcement?" Do I have to refer a guy who actually works in the athletic department to the ten-year-old kid who blew his mind at last year's Illinois game? Shouldn't the person in charge of branding Michigan understand it? Michigan does not have "just PA announcements." It has one of the grand old men of the PA business, Carl Grapentine.

The primary reason Michigan fans don't want ads in the stadium is because they distract from the game. The chief marketing officer says he won't put ads in the stadium but looks to "really focus on making it a wow experience."

It already is a wow experience. There are a 110,000 people in a stadium watching Desmond Howard or Charles Woodson or Denard Robinson. Wow has been accomplished. Wow is also accomplished at Yost. Wow is not at Crisler, which is by far the chintziest Michigan sports venue. Make the connection. The chief marketing officer's primary duty should be to recognize and preserve the parts of the Michigan tradition that are unique, not turn everything into a February Knicks game.

I envy Notre Dame fans in this department. They have an iron grip on what they want their stadium experience to be like. It's a little weird that it does not include massive HD replays, but there is no threat someone will promise FREEEEEEE PIZZZZZAAA or play Let The Bodies Hit The Floor at Notre Dame Stadium. There would be a gentle, friendly riot.

Bo finishes. Via Wolverine Historian, a one-hour Michigan Replay special on Bo's last season:

Grimly grim under a steel-grim sky. So you're just skipping along in this article about Mike Hart's initial foray into coaching at Eastern Michigan when Ron English pops up and slaps you with this baby:

“Mike’s strengths were never his physical abilities, they were always his mental abilities, his emotional abilities, his character. That’s what I’ve always loved about him. He’s a no-brainer in this profession as long as he can deal with the hours, the commitment, the movement and the disappointment. There’s a lot of disappointment in this profession.”

English's perspective is informed by being head coach of a school where going 2-10 gets you a "keep up the good work," of course. Pair that with Eastern's gray concrete stadium and it's like being the head coach of North Korea's football team. Watch out for lightning.

And here's everything. Burnt Orange Nation has collected every nasty bit of PR to befall college football in the past year, getting up to 23 separate incidents (Michigan's major-ish violations are included). This is my favorite one:

13) Unranked UConn Cant Sell Fiesta Bowl tickets (December 2010)

In a further indictment of the current system, there were a flood of stories related to schools being unable to sell their allotment of tickets for bowl games.  Most notably, UConn resorted to begging fans to buy Fiesta Bowl tickets.  Not surprisingly, it didnt work.  Later calculations placed their financial losses for the game at $1.66 million.  Their actual losses were much higher, as OU kicked their ass and then their coach fled for Maryland.  Good times.

The bowl system has successful shoved all the uncertainty onto the college programs they are parasites on, even up to the BCS level.

Etc.: Bleacher Report hires Dan Levy, Dan Rubenstein, Josh Zerkle, and Bethlehem Shoals? What is going on? Gary Danielson declares "landlocked" MSU and Purdue the toughest gigs in the Big Ten. Indiana? Or have people given up on them entirely? He's also a superconference believer, FWIW.


Class of 1817

August 22nd, 2011 at 3:32 PM ^

Am I the only one who is saddened to see that words like: team, tradition, name, reputation, integrity, style, experience...

They're now interchangeable, and often discarded for the use of the preferred word: brand.

I get it, all right. I'm not a commie-hippie, I still bought a night-game jersey, I don't care about Adidas vs. Nike, and you can stay on my lawn as long as you don't take a dump on it...

But man... It just freaks me out that lately, it seems to be the favorite word and everyone is just pretending like it's always been that way. Kinda sad.

Actually, y'know what? That's enough. You've spent enough time on my lawn. You can come back tomorrow. Thank you.

Ed Shuttlesworth

August 22nd, 2011 at 3:50 PM ^

No,  you're not alone.  I hate the word "brand."  It's lazyspeak -- a useless, overdescriptive formulation concocted by the echo chamber of marketing types to make their activities seem lofty.  If you talk about the "brand" all the time, people will ignore the fact that you're merely peddling prefab pizza, or coupons.   

The Rittenberg story on Bo and Woody, channeling Delaney, uses the word so much, you'd think it was satire.

People filled Michigan Stadium and other college football stadiums long before the University of Michigan was merely a "brand."  And now that people like the "chief marketing officer" and the "athletic director" see it merely as a "brand," huge factions of the people who filled the stadium don't enjoy going to the stadium as much. 

If that's the "future," it's a stupid one.


August 22nd, 2011 at 4:48 PM ^

A University isn't a "brand." Once you look at the term, University of Michigan, and call it a brand instead of a fabled institution, you're losing something special.

And this goes double for Michigan football.

Once you think of it as a brand, you're diminishing it, and then it's just another gimmick to market.

I love Michigan, the institution. I love Michigan, the football team. I love the Big Ten, the conference made up of schools.

I hate the idea of the "brand" of any of the above. 

Class of 1817

August 22nd, 2011 at 5:47 PM ^

I mean, I found myself thinking, "What the hell would Bo say to someone calling U of M a 'brand'?!"

And then I thought, "Man, you're getting old and nostalgic, and it's just Michigan football...relax."

And then I heard myself say "...Did you say it's JUST Michigan football?!"

And then I kicked my own ass.

Bando Calrissian

August 22nd, 2011 at 4:06 PM ^

For the record, it's not "FREEE PIZZZAAAA," but "Hey Fans!   Who WANTS A PIZZZZ-ZZZZAAAAAAAAAAAAAA?"  (cue RAWK)

I can't even begin to explain how much I dislike the Crisler PA announcer.  He's just as bad at Comerica Park, too.  Even if more restrained.

Ed Shuttlesworth

August 22nd, 2011 at 5:04 PM ^

I still can't figure out the guy at Crisler.  At some point between my student season-ticket days pre Fab-Five and around 2003, did people who go to Michigan basketball games forget that the object of the game is to score more points than the other team?  That when Michigan made a three-pointer to go up one with 30 seconds to go, it was EXCITING! and worthy of CHEER!?? 

In the 60-odd games I went to over 5-6 years, maybe it was me, but I distinctly remember people cheering loudly for Michigan when, you know, good things happened on the court for Michigan.   And that there were thousands of people at the games rooting loudly for Michigan, who roared for a stop when the other school had the ball in a close game, and who knew to yell and scream to try to bother the other schools' free throw shooters, even without being coaxed along by some screaming, grating-voiced hack yelling all the time, even without FREE PIZZZ-ZZZZZAAAAAAAAA. 

Was that wrong?  Did that not happen?


August 22nd, 2011 at 5:09 PM ^

What can anyone expect from Dave Brandon's marketing team, other than a constant assault to change things Michigan fans are already perfectly happy with?

It's one thing if you're a Bush League team needing to do something, anything, to put fans' butts in seats. It's quite another if you're Michigan.

I'm hoping, praying, that very soon Dave Brandon will wake up one morning and simply say, "You know what, I really miss being a businessman," and leave the Athletic Department.

Then again, I'm only hoping it if we don't get someone worse, which is entirely possible.

Yes, we are going to be treated to giant stuffed characters, balloons, halftime stunts, and eventually stadium advertising, tradition and the wishes of the faithful be damned.

I just don't like what people like Brandon are doing to college football, but I know, I know...I'm an old man and get off my lawn, etc...

Edit: I dunno, to me college football is more like religion than "branding." People don't suddenly root for Michigan State because they changed their uniforms or shade of green; they don't decide to attend games at Michigan because of what happens during pregame, or halftime, or because they saw a cute ad.

Branding an institution like Michigan is like branding religion; you can do all the distracting stuff you want and call it branding, but the reality is that none of that stuff has a damn thing to do with becoming a Michigan fan. You can do all you want to "brand," say, devil worship, but you're not going to get many converts to it from the main religions because it's not about advertising, branding, or anything remotely related to those kinds of efforts.

Branding is something you need to worry about when nothing distinguishes your product from another product except a name. Like toothpaste. Or the old GM divisions, that were obsessed with branding (and look what happened!!). That isn't the case with Michigan. Just my two cents.

Michigan Arrogance

August 22nd, 2011 at 5:42 PM ^

I think most people are missing the biggest analogy one can make: that with ESPN. ESPN was rollin' in the mid 90s. I mean, people would work their dinners around SC. It was a must watch first thing in the AM and right after work/school at 6pm.

Since the late 90s (basically when they went to 60min SC), ESPN has been growing their brand NOT by attempting to attract the people who are already are glued to the TV (dedicated sports fans). They tried to attract the casual fans by producing debate and reality shows, more fluff peices on SC, the BUD HOT SEAT, etc. That's how businesses grow. attract new listeners/viewers. that's what minor league baseball teams have bee trying to do since about 1990.

Every sport and every TV station (MTV, hello?) have been doing the same. The problem is, most have grown their brands beyond what the diehards who were already hooked could tolerate. I think DB is trying to grow the brand in much the same way (NIGHT GAMEZ, JERSEYZ, etc) while not alienating the die hards (no advertizing, etc).

Like Colin Cowherd says about sports marketing, "they don't give a shit about you (us, the MGOBloggers)- they all ready own you. They need to attract the next generation and casual fans who may eventually become the die hards."

Ed Shuttlesworth

August 22nd, 2011 at 5:56 PM ^

Agreed ... but where Cowherd's thesis runs amok is that they "got" us without having to resort to stupid shit, making it hard to see why they'd have to resort to stupid shit to "get" the next generation.

And, anyway, the primary source of long-term Michigan loyalists are Michigan students and their (future) kids.  There's no reason to think students are going to be more interested in the football team just because there's a mascot, or godawful "throwback" jerseys, or a ridiculous video.  (If there's actual research showing that there is, I'll gladly stand corrected, but it seems highly, highly implausible).


Michigan Arrogance

August 22nd, 2011 at 6:17 PM ^

the point is to attract people that otherwise may not have been predisposed to love the experience. Again, the people that get hooked by M football/sports without the FREEEEEEEE PIZZZZZZA!!!!!!!!! are not the ones DB is trying to attract. They'll be attracted b/c IT'S MICHIGAN. /hoke


you're second paragraph completely ignores every successful minor league sports franchise since 1993. MiLB, Arena League football, etc.