Pop-up Shops & Streaming Services

As leaves begin to change colors, and the air starts getting crisp, there is nothing better than a delicious cup of coffee to warm you up on chilly Autumn days. And as any Gilmore Girls fan knows, there is nothing better than coffee from Luke’s Diner.


On November 25, Netflix will be releasing its long-awaited revival of the beloved show, and in preparation, as well as to celebrate the 16th anniversary of Gilmore Girl’s pilot episode – Netflix transformed coffee shops around the country into the popular Star’s Hollow Diner. From 7:00 a.m. to noon on October 5, baristas dressed in flannels and backwards baseball hats were giving out free coffee, complete with quotations from the show on the cup, custom “Luke’s” sleeves, and even some special surprises for a few lucky customers.

Gilmore Girls’ revival isn’t the first time Netflix has developed an innovative marketing campaign. What started out as a DVD-to-customer company has quickly advanced into the world’s largest streaming network, having found massive amounts of success in its creation and advertising of original content.

To publicize the newest season of hit show House of Cards, Netflix created a campaign website – fu2016.com – promoting the show’s main character, Frank Underwood, for president. Visitors to the site could customize icons, saying “F U” to whatever they want.

Then there was the time The New York Times ran a 1,500-word feature about female incarceration in the United States – only it wasn’t just an in-depth journalistic piece, it was actually a branded, native advertisement promoting the newest season of Netflix’s Orange is the New Black. (source) Yet this was only one – albeit extremely successful – component of the campaign. Later that same week, Netflix sent out a “Crazy Pyes” food truck around New York City to give out free pies and ice cream cones in homage to Uzo Aduba’s fan-favorite character, Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren. (source)

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So what can we learn from Netflix’s marketing strategy?

First of all, original content may just be the key to success in a saturated market; the recent success of Netflix’s Stranger Things further illustrates the benefits to creating exclusive content, especially when there are quite a few other streaming platforms competing for consumers.

While original content Netflix appeals to niche audiences, Netflix successfully target mainstream audiences, using interactive and innovative executions to draw the attention of current users and new subscribers alike.

Also, it is vital to understand what your consumers want and how to adapt to their behaviors. Research has found that Millennials don’t respond to advertisements the same way Generation X or Baby Boomers did. Building a community around a brand has become the best way to try and lure Gen Y’s as consumers, and there is no better way than through authentic, experiential marketing. (source)



Twitter & the NFL: a Dynamic Duo

Earlier this season, Twitter live streamed its first NFL game to over two million users, part of a deal made between the league and the social media network. Twitter, for approximately $10 million, received the rights to stream the 10 Thursday Night Football games broadcasted by NBC and CBS.

How it works: Users viewed the CBS broadcast of the pregame show and game through any device that supports Twitter (cellular devices, computers, tablets, etc.) with the option to view the game in full screen or to split the screen between the video player and a feed of tweets. The overall reaction from users was extremely positive.

Twitter’s average audience of 243,000 during the Thursday Night Football game was very small to CBS and the NFL Network’s average audience of 15.4 million television viewers, but no one expected the social media site to rival the ratings of a large screen television, still the preferred way to watch sporting events. As far as digital streaming goes, this was as success. Of the 2.4 million viewers that were reached through digital properties, 2.3 million were reached through Twitter.

Sporting events are one of the few programs on television still consistently viewed live. In the age of DVR, many programs are taped and watched later by viewers, as viewers then have the power to fast forward through commercials. This lowers the attractiveness and thus the value of those advertising spots. Live sporting events defy this phenomenon, which is why more and more brands look to advertise through sport. The highest rated program on television? Sunday Night Football.

So while the viewership of this year’s TNF opener had lower ratings than the 2015 season’s TNF opener (the 2015 Denver and Kansas City matchup brought in the highest rating for a TNF game ever), things are still looking good for the NFL. They reported that Thursday night’s rating was up 20 percent from the average rating for the 16 games of the 2015 Thursday Night Football schedule on CBS and NFL Network.

For brands that currently advertise with NBC and CBS, the partnership between the NFL and Twitter adds additional reach, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. It is unlikely that many fans are opting to watch the games on Twitter instead of big screen televisions, although some surely did. The much more likely scenario is that more fans will be tuned in and logged onto Twitter as a second-screen, increasing reach of messages through advertising.

For brands looking to advertise through these Twitter streams, there are many options. The first, which AdWeek reports is available in all of Twitter’s deals, is through the Amplify program which places advertisements alongside video and highlight clips that are then tweeted out. The NFL previously used Amplify, and those successes are a reason the NFL chose Twitter to digitally stream games this season. The other option is the reported 200 or so digital commercials, or roughly 20 per game, that will appear online as regular TV commercials. NBC and CBS sell the national spots and the local spots are left to Twitter.

While Twitter only receives limited advertising options for an average professional football broadcast, they are only paying about $1 million per game. Last season, Yahoo! paid $17 million for the rights to live stream the Bills-Jags game in London, which was aired at 9:30 a.m. ET. The returns for Twitter will be from the advertising spaces sold, but more importantly from the increased engagement among active users, who often already live tweet NFL games, as well as the additional users that will flock to the platform to watch the broadcasts for free without verification. Twitter is in need of content to stimulate growth to please investors, and the highly valuable NFL could do the trick—as seen earlier this month, Twitter’s stock made a temporary jump. Although back to nearly the same price now, fans catching on to the platform and more exciting future matchups could result in a more permanent improvement. As a whole, Twitter’s new strategies to stream live sports could be its saving grace in attracting new users.

While mostly highly praised, Twitter’s streaming does not come without room for improvement. The most significant issue of the first broadcast was the delay between Twitter’s stream and the CBS broadcast on television. Significant delays led to a few spoilers in the live stream of Tweets displayed next to the video. Although typically less than a minute, the trailing time makes the live stream less “real time.” The other issue users complained of was the lack of an option to view tweets from only users they follow during the game. While many participated in the public timeline, some preferred their own, regular feed. But overall, most involved are saying #success to this deal between the NFL and Twitter. How it progresses throughout the season will be a hot topic to follow in sport marketing and media.





Intrepid Marketing Group Announces Torrey Winchester as Vice President



RALEIGH, NC – [Monday, September 12, 2016] Intrepid Marketing Group, a full-service marketing agency in Raleigh, N.C., is pleased to announce Torrey Winchester has been promoted to vice president. Previously acting as director of business strategy, Winchester will now quarterback new business projects, manage internal operations and maintain current client relationships.


“Torrey is a proven leader with tremendous drive and determination,” said Ann-Marie Sales, partner. “She is a true asset to our team and we are excited about her new role with the agency.”


Stepping into the role of vice president, Winchester’s added responsibilities include managing all internal marketing assets for the agency and overseeing account executives. She has been a valuable asset to Intrepid since joining in 2010, focusing her work on the agency’s sports and nonprofit clients. From media placement and public relations to brand development and social media management, Winchester’s diverse skill set has been critical to Intrepid’s growth and success, leading her to the new vice president position following a two-year period as director of business strategy.


“I am so grateful for the opportunities I have been afforded at Intrepid Marketing Group,” said Winchester. “I look forward to taking on this role at an agency that boasts long-lasting client relationships while fostering the professional growth of its employees.”


A native of Tulsa, OK, Winchester received a B.A. in Public Policy Studies and Markets & Management Studies certificate from Duke University before earning an MBA specialized in sports business from San Diego State University. Overall, she has dedicated more than seven years working in sports marketing and public relations. Prior to joining Intrepid, Winchester spent three years with Duke Athletics Marketing and Promotions department. She has also managed grassroots community efforts with Major League Soccer’s D.C. United and assisted in coordinating operations logistics for U.S. Soccer at Development Academy Showcase events and World Cup Qualifiers.


For more information about Intrepid Marketing Group, please visit www.intrepidmg.com.


About Intrepid Marketing Group

Intrepid Marketing Group is a full-service marketing agency located in Raleigh, NC, specializing in public and media relations, advertising, digital media, and design. Local and national clients include The V Foundation for Cancer Research, the Carolina Hurricanes, the Carolina RailHawks, the Carolina Mudcats, Teamworks, Marbles Kids Museum, Park West Village, Fuentek, Implus Corporation and several leading NCAA Division I institutions. For more information, please visit http://www.intrepidmg.com or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.






Mobile Advertising Takes Gold

So far, prime-time viewership for the 2016 Summer Olympics has been lagging in comparison to the 2012 Olympic Games in London. However, NBC reported that their digital platforms, which harness the power of social media, hit best-ever marks of 13.4 million unique viewers for three consecutive days. The traditional television viewer experience has declined with the rise of other digital platforms and the “second screen,” and advertisers are taking notice.

In 2015, Accenture released a report revealing that 87% of consumers use more than one device at a time. The smartphone is the most frequently used second device during viewing overall with 57 percent, but even higher with millennials, with 74 percent of 14 to 17-year-olds reporting using a TV/smartphone combination.

Mobile ad revenue is continuing to rise, while desktop ad is relatively flat. Mary Meeker’s annual Internet Trends report is closely watched by everyone in the tech industry. Meeker’s presentation continued to push the idea that mobile advertising is quickly outpacing desktop-based advertising revenue, growing by 66 percent to desktop’s 5 percent growth in 2015. Data from a report conducted by BI Intelligence suggests echoes the same sentiments. The BI report suggests that as digital advertising dollars shift from desktop to mobile, display and video will be the fastest-growing mobile advertising formats.


Facebook is a frontrunner for advertising revenue growth. Facebook advertising revenue nearly tripled its quarterly profits this year, posting a 57% surge in first-quarter profits. “Businesses are no longer asking if they should market on mobile, they’re asking how,” Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. Facebook continues to be the most-visited platform to reach millennials, according to the comScore data that Meeker shared in her presentation.


Get in the game. A report by Statista in 2015 showed that more than 60% of U.S. mobile phone users are also mobile phone gamers, and they predicted that the statistic would continue to rise to 76.5% by 2019. So how do you tap into this group without presenting as an intrusion to the game? Native advertising is the most successful format for achieving engagement, while also creating a seamless integration into the gaming experience.


Kylee W.




The 2016 Rio Summer Olympics are finally here! And whether you like it or not, the Olympics will dominate your TVs, newspapers, and social media feeds. If you haven’t done your research on the Olympics yet, don’t worry because we’re here to fill you in on everything you need to know.

This summer will mark the 120th Anniversary of the original summer Olympics, which took place in Athens, Greece in 1896. In the original Olympics, only 14 countries participated in the 43 event spectacle. Since then the Olympics have grown into the most decorated sporting event of all time. This year, over 10,000 athletes from 206 nations and 42 different sport disciplines, will travel to Rio De Janeiro to compete in 306 events over the course of 19 days. For an athlete, competing in the Olympics is the most prestigious honor one can achieve, providing a chance to represent one’s country and compete against the world’s top athletes on the biggest stage. For years, the Olympics has brought the world together and from Aug 5-21, they’re back and ready to bring more action.

So what can fans expect this year?

New technology and streaming options are available making this Olympics one of the most accessible yet.  For those not willing or able to make the trek to Rio, staying connected to the games won’t be a problem thanks to the networks and digital platforms of NBC Universal. They will be streaming 6,755 hours of programming for the Games. Yes, that is equal to 356 hours of Olympic action per day (19 days)! Other networks including BRAVO, MSNBC, and USA Network will also be airing some events. If you’re looking to stream events, make sure to download the NBC Sports App to your Apple TV, Roku, Android TV or Xbox.

For marketers, the Olympics is a prime event to capitalize brands on, but there is much to know if you’re going to do it right.

First, it’s important to know the strict policies when it comes to advertising around the Olympics. In the 2012 London Olympics, sponsors, partners and supporters spent billions to have their brands connected to the Games. However, many non-sponsors ended up facing hefty fines for violating the marketing guidelines set by the Olympic Committee. Fortunately for brands this year, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has announced changes allowing athletes and non-sponsors to benefit from ties to the Olympics, but these changes come with tight restrictions.

As part of the rule change known as “Rule 40” the IOC has approved athletes to appear in generic advertising that does not explicitly mention the games or use any Olympic intellectual property. For example, using words such as “Olympics,” “Rio,” “Games” and “Gold” in any marketing materials is off limits. In addition, the IOC required athletes and non-sponsors wanting to advertise to submit waivers, including plans for advertising and social media campaigns, six months ahead of time.  While bigger brands such as Under Armour, General Mills and Gatorade are approved and ready to take advantage, smaller companies who are growing and find difficulty looking ahead are facing problems. Meanwhile, the larger companies who have campaigns planned out for years, are getting creative to work around “Rule 40” restrictions. Hastags such as #TheBigEvent and #RoadtoReeyo are just a few marketing gimmicks non-sponsors have been using to hop restrictions. The rule change forces all brands to step up their Olympics marketing game.

This year more than ever, social media is expected to offer digital marketers with unparalleled opportunity to target viewers during the event. Twitter has recently announced itself as the official social media platform for the Olympics, and they’re going all out. The popular social networking site is revealing 207 team emojis, which can be activated by tweeting out the three letter country code hashtag, including the Refugee Olympic Team (#ROT) .


In addition, more than 50 Olympics and Sports emojis are available, as well as a Rio 2016 section in moments. The exclusive moments section will feature a live Olympics moments stream to allow fans to follow key sporting events, countries, and teams over the entirety of the Olympics.

Stay tuned for what may be the most watched Olympic Games yet.

-Becca G.


Will Facebook’s New Algorithm Disrupt Marketing Methods?

Facebook’s latest algorithm update may be good news for users looking to connect with friends, but bad news for marketers working to grow brand awareness.

Facebook has recently rolled out a new algorithm that favors friends and family over the content from publishers. For years, publishers, news outlets and marketers have looked to Facebook as a platform to grow their brand and expand their audiences. Now, with the release of Facebook’s latest algorithm, they may have to consider other platforms.

With over 1.5 billion total users and 900 million users accessing Facebook daily, it’s no surprise that many businesses have come to rely on the social media giant for marketing. But with Facebook’s update, content posted by businesses and media companies will show up less prominently in news feeds, taking the back burner behind posts from friends and family.

According to an official post by Facebook, the changes were made in order to more favorably promote substantive content and reduce the amount of promotional content seen in news feeds. The change came in response to feedback that users would like to see more stories from friends, families and pages they care about. The new policy is a way to get back to Facebook’s original driving principle: connecting people.

The more you interact with posts, the more likely you are to see that same person’s post again. While family and friends come first, it may take some additional scrolling to see those marketing promos you rarely interact with. This change requires marketers to work extra hard to get their content in front of their audiences.

This may be good news for the average user, however it leaves marketers questioning the continued utility of the platform. Marketers can’t ignore that Facebook has proven to be the most prominent social media platform in the market. According to DreamGrow.com, Facebook makes up 41% of the market share in the social media market, dominating all other platforms.

Facebook has been candid about the fact that the update “may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some Pages.”

So, what can marketers do to cope with this development?

Organic reach is likely to decline with this change making paid advertising on Facebook an attractive option. For now, it’s relatively inexpensive. Though soon, competition for advertising will spark as promotional content becomes harder to reach users. If paid advertising is the only way for companies to remain visible on the world’s largest social media platform, spending that extra penny may be worth it.

The decline of organic reach may vary according to the characteristics of a business’s audience. For example, if the majority of your referral traffic comes from people liking and sharing your page’s content, there will be a much smaller impact than if traffic comes directly from page posts, which may put smaller businesses in jeopardy.

Paid posts can help ensure posts are showing up in the News Feeds of your target audience. With the right tactics, these ads will double your odds at reaching your target audience.

Facebook encourages pages to post sharable content that audiences are likely to engage with such as intriguing photos and videos. The more interactive the content, the more likely it is your company’s posts will reach higher conversion.

Luckily, there are a few ways to “beat” the algorithm and customize news feeds. Many users would still like to receive updates from businesses, so it’s important to communicate with them how to stay up to date with your company.

The “See First” feature allows you to see what you want to see at the top of your news feed, regardless of the algorithm. To use this, just go to the page or profile you want to see first, click the following or liked button, then choose “See First” from the drop down menu. This will ensure that you’ll see the posts you want at the top of your news feed.


While those who want to see more of their friends’ baby pictures and selfies will enjoy the algorithm change, these few tips and tricks will help those would still like to follow their subscribed pages.

For businesses, relying on Facebook for marketing may be an uneasy feeling. Although there may not be a straight forward answer for a marketing strategy, Facebook is an ever changing platform, and marketers must be willing to change with it.


-Becca G.






The V Foundation Gives Life to Hope

An ESPY award identifies exceptional efforts put forth by individual athletes and team performances throughout the year, but some of the most profound achievements recognized on this night do not take place on the pitch or the court or the mound.

They take place somewhere within.

As people across the country tuned into the 2016 ESPY Awards on the evening of July 13th, they discovered John Cena, WWE superstar and 15X world champion, hosting the anticipated event.

One after another, he and other guests introduced incredible people who marched across that stage to receive accolades for service, perseverance, courage and unbelievable comebacks. Their stories all had something in common. Eric Berry’s speech was not centered on his impressive stats from his Pro bowl season after battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Nor was Sergeant Elizabeth Marks’ speech focused on her ascent to becoming a world-class paraswimmer after being injured while serving in Iraq and overcoming lung disease.

Instead, these individuals elaborated on ideas much greater than themselves and their accomplishments. They spoke about the qualities deeply rooted within us that help people overcome obstacles and the immense hope for the future battle against terminal diseases and the importance of attitude in all of our struggles.

And finally, the long-awaited Jimmy V award recipient took the stage; and Craig Sager’s story was no exception to the incredible strength shown throughout the night.

If viewers were unfamiliar with the NBA reporter’s spirit that matches his incredibly bold and wildly bright wardrobe, it only took moments after he began talking.

Sager accepted the Jimmy V Perseverance Award from Vice President Biden for his long battle with Leukemia. Matching in the resilience and character of previous recipients and founder Jim Valvano, it didn’t take long to understand why he was deserving of this recognition.

He described a grueling schedule of undergoing chemotherapy most mornings before traveling to games after a 30-year career, but his cancer does not hinder his desire to live life to the fullest. In fact, it makes Craig Sager even more aware of the opportunity each day offers. His smile and positive attitude so clearly permeate his entire being, altering his outlook on life.

“Each and every day is a canvas for all of us, just waiting to be painted,” Sager proclaimed.

The V Foundation for Cancer Research was first announced during the 1993 ESPY Awards and today funds all types of cancer research at institutes across the country. Since its founding, The V Foundation has awarded more than $150 million in cancer research grants.

While The V Foundation was featured throughout the ESPYS, and leading up to the event on ESPN and ABC, some may not have picked on other connections the cancer research foundation had with this year’s event including the show’s host, John Cena.  Earlier this year, WWE announced a new partnership with The V Foundation to raise money through Connor’s Cure. The new partnership will expand Connor’s Cure outside of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation and support top research centers and hospitals nationwide.



During the ESPYs, The V Foundation also announced its new partnership with Scott Hamilton and his Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation. Hamilton is an Olympic Gold Medalist, Network TV skating analyst, and a cancer and brain tumor survivor. Combining these forces will only strengthen the fight against cancer by funding immunology cancer research projects to young investigators.

The night offered a lot of promise and hope for change.  Although full of tear-jerking moments, all of the speakers addressed how their battle through hardship ultimately transformed their appreciation for life. The V Foundation is an encouraging source of that hope and will continue to give fighters, like Craig Sager, life.

-Cameron C.

Making Memories that will last a lifetime?

Change is on the way.

A brand-new feature that has been considered one of the most significant additions to Snapchat is about to change the identity and whole dynamic of the app. Not to mention the 100 million plus Snapchat users that engage on a daily basis, who will soon approach this social media platform in a new light.

Some “snappers” are drawn to the immediate here-and-now aspect of the traditional Snapchat, communicating through pictures and videos that disappear in 10 seconds or within 24 hours as a snap story vanishes into thin air. It sets the app apart from media-sharing locations like Facebook and Instagram that are centered around permanency. However, some social media users may have been dissuaded from dabbling in the service for this very reason, desiring a platform that allows them to look back and admire pictures being shared. With Snapchat’s new Memories feature, people may just get the best of both worlds.

Memories will provide a searchable archive of pictures and videos that can be stored, reexamined, and shared a second time by users. It acts like Snapchat’s personal camera roll and will ease the trouble many face in a frantic attempt to save an embarrassing video or stunning sunset image.

Snappers will have the ability to pick through a collection and contribute an old memory to a current snap story – recognized by a white boarder around the frame of the old picture or video.


As it is gently shuttled into the grasp of the public, Snapchat must have a number of grand expectations.

Having greater media permanence could attract more users, namely an older population who is already familiar with the concept of Facebook.  Not to mention the potential marketing opportunities that could accompany its implementation. For the savvy advertiser, it may be the perfect location to grow a brand or display information on a consistent basis.

Currently, daily snap stories are crafted by recognizable magazines and news sources including Buzzfeed, ESPN, Cosmo, and CNN which are then displayed alongside the users own personal friends’ stories. They have been received quite well by the Snapchat community and provide a free, mobile news source for the many people who have discontinued their paper delivery.

But there’s more…

“The company is for the first time beginning to show users ads in between their friends’ stories,” explains Alex Fitzpatrick of Time magazine. “Allowing Snapchat users to make stories with older footage [through Memories] could result in more stories, which in turn means more room for ads.”

Ultimately, similar to the way ads find their way onto the outskirts of your Facebook page or a “Sponsored” image appears on your Instagram feed, companies will begin looking more and more at Snapchat as a means of transmitting products, services, and ideas. And why not? It has increasingly become one of, if not the, most popular social networking site among millennials.

Memories will definitely be a fascinating addition to the Snapchat world.  Attracting more users and gaining more space for advertising seems to be an ideal combination for interested markets.

-Cameron C.





Spam, Bacon and Graymail

Ding. An email rolls in; it reads “Final Fourth of July Opportunities!” as the subject line. Ding. Another one. This one titled “Newsletter: July 2016”.

These emails slip through your spam filter and into your email because you specifically signed up for them. They are a slight nuisance, but not enough of one to take the time to unsubscribe or send them to the black-hole known as your spam inbox (just yet). They are about things you might have an interest in purchasing or reading later, but not at this moment. They are graymail, or, in keeping with the meat-themed emails, bacon (spelled bacn).

So what is graymail?

Graymail, coined by Hotmail, is a term used to describe solicited emails that don’t fit the definition of spam emails. In other words, they’re those annoying emails you get from that online store you bought your niece’s Christmas gifts from when you had to put your email in to finally checkout. Most people just pass over them when checking their email. They’re usually characterized by a waning interest over time until finally, out of sheer annoyance, you mark them as spam. It’s been estimated that 82 percent of emails in your inbox rights now are graymail and 75 percent of all spam identified by Hotmail users is actually unwanted graymail.


HubSpot recently published an article on Medium about what happened when they unsubscribed 250,000 people from their new-content emails – without asking. “Although it’s not considered spam,” HubSpot wrote, “sending graymail is problematic because it can hurt the deliverability of your email overall.”

The first thing they did was to set up a system to unsubscribe subscribers once they became unengaged with the content. After six months of not clicking on the email, the subscribers become unsubscribed.

“If you think we didn’t have anxiety about unsubscribing 45% of our list, you’re dead wrong. But once we got over the sticker shock, we realized there wasn’t really anything to be worried about,” HubSpot wrote, “the people we were unsubscribing hadn’t clicked through to our blog from any of the emails we’d sent them over the course of the last 6 months, so we weren’t at risk of losing any email traffic.”

After cutting down the list by 45 percent, HubSpot removed the “instant” subscription option. Instead of sending users an email every time their blog was updated, these users now received a daily email with an aggregate of the day’s best posts. Subscribers were made aware of this decision with HubSpot noting “their inboxes would be a little lighter for it”.

But why does eliminating dormant subscribers and removing graymail from users’ inboxes matter?

It matters because your email server is smart. Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail, they’re actively studying their users’ habits. They learn what kind of things you like to read, what you’re interested in and what things you don’t pay attention to.

If you have 10 people all receiving the same email but eight of them don’t engage any further than opening the welcome email, the servers learn that this is something that’s of little interest and will start hiding these emails from consumers. Even actively engaged subscribers, the ones who want to see what you have created, will have their emails hidden because the majority view the content as graymail. By having a majority subscriber population that’s inactive, you’re actually allowing the servers to see your emails as irrelevant and unimportant.

Graymail isn’t spam; however, it is content that’s perceived to be spam-like by the receiver. It’s important to keep an eye on post-send engagement data. But don’t worry – lower engagement numbers aren’t a death sentence. Sometimes, like HubSpot learned, it’s important to rework your system to better blanket your consumers. Graymail and unengaged users are simply an opportunity to learn more about your target consumers and what messages work. Learning from your graymail, as HubSpot wrote, “[is] a better experience for the recipient and, thus, a better result for the marketer.”


Savannah L.


Going bowling: the pros and cons of college football’s postseason

Each December as the world rejoices around the holiday season, college football programs, fans and corporate sponsors alike begin to celebrate another time of year: bowl season.

The 2016 slate of postseason games was one of record proportions, featuring a total of 41 bowl matchups (including the National Championship). This is more than double the amount of bowls that existed just 20 years ago; in 1995 there were only 18 postseason contests. Nowadays, games are played all over the map from the Bahamas to Hawaii, and sponsors are changing on a regular basis (you can test your knowledge of this year’s title sponsors here).

So, why are there so many games?

“I don’t know if there’s too many or not enough,” said St. Petersburg Bowl executive director Brett Dulaney in a December article in the Tampa Bay Times. “Here’s what I know: I know there wouldn’t be that many bowl games if communities couldn’t support them.”

The communities in which these games are set certainly look forward to the extra bump in tourism and spending each year associated with each team’s fanbase that makes a vacation out of their alma mater’s postseason berth. Additionally, live broadcasts of each game allow millions of viewers to catch a glimpse of what different host cities have to offer, potentially leading other visitors their way in the future.

For players, it’s about all of the hard work put into each year paying off. Nothing quite caps a football season like getting free swag, a trip to a unique location and a chance to hoist a trophy and give the head coach a Gatorade shower. It can also be especially valuable for upperclassmen looking to showcase their skills and make a statement to scouts before the NFL Draft.


Coaches, too, reap the rewards of postseason play. From sending off the senior class with a meaningful victory, to extra practice reps with lowerclassmen, the bowl experience can prove extremely valuable to the program’s future success. Not to mention the national television exposure, a huge recruiting tool for coaches trying to convince the best up-and-coming talent to pick their school.

As for corporate sponsors, the value in buying the naming rights to a sporting event like a college football bowl game is generally agreed upon. “You can’t watch the game for a couple of minutes without seeing the logo,” said a former FedEx VP of marketing.

Couple that with the fact that even the lower tier bowls are getting ratings “more than most of NBA programming,” as told to Forbes by Peach Bowl, Inc. President & CEO Gary Stokan. This makes the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars corporations spend each year to have their names associated with these games worthwhile. Those kind of ratings also benefit companies like ESPN, who are able to sell advertising at a premium.

Yes, there are plenty of pros. Now let’s look at a few of the cons:

More bowl games means there are more participants needed – 80 teams, to be exact. This makes up a whopping 62.5% of the country’s 128 bowl eligible programs. Normally, only teams with a .500 record (6-6) or better are permitted to the postseason; however, only 77 programs finished with such a record this season, forcing the field to expand to add three 5-7 teams.

Although every bowl typically receives above-average television viewership, diminishing the product to feature teams having won less than half of their regular season games may also have had an effect on the bowl season’s biggest games. This year’s College Football Playoff semifinals saw interest decline and ratings plummet compared to last year’s numbers. Even the National Championship game, a 45-40 thriller between powerhouses Alabama and Clemson, experienced a significant decrease in viewership, according to the SportsBusiness Journal’s John Ourand:

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 12.57.59 PM

From a different perspective, the schools participating in these games can even suffer at the expense of earning a bowl bid, literally. Each school is allotted a certain number of tickets to the bowl game which they are selected to, and are forced to pay for any tickets that go unsold. In 2011, the University of Connecticut lost more than $1.6 million as a result of one of the greatest seasons in the school’s history. Ticket distributors like StubHub have made this an increasingly difficult problem, as fans have an avenue to purchase significantly cheaper tickets than their university has to offer. Although measures have been taken by conferences to prevent their schools from suffering large financial losses, it is still recognized, as stated by Mid-American Conference Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher, “bowls are not money-making operations” for the schools involved and rather more widely recognized as a potential branding opportunity.

Of course, there is always the unknown when it comes to playing an extra game to end the year. That high-end NFL Draft prospect that scouts have their eyes on could suffer a potential career-altering injury – in this year’s Fiesta Bowl, Notre Dame linebacker and 2015 Butkus Award winner Jaylon Smith suffered a torn ACL and MCL. Smith is among several players to have their draft stock decline, and potentially cost them millions of dollars at the next level.


The potential for bowl games to bring networks revenue and continue to provide widespread exposure for brands and communities will likely mean that the number of bowls will continue to be high, and possibly even increase in the years to come. However, there are warning signs indicating that the success of college football’s postseason could be threatened by the sheer number of parties involved. It is an interesting discussion that we at Intrepid look forward to following for years to come.


-Al L.