2012 NCAA® Women's Final Four® | It's More Than Three Games®
In Fall 2011, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) engaged GFM to promote local market awareness of the many fan events surrounding the 2012 Women's Final Four, scheduled April 1 & 3, 2012, at the Pepsi Center in Denver. In addition to the championship games, the NCAA hosts a series of family-friendly fan events, the majority of them free to the public. From youth clinics to autograph sessions, a charity run event to benefit breast cancer research, entertainment and a three-day fan festival at the Colorado Convention Center, the 2012 Women's Final Four embodies its rallying cry, “It's More Than Three Games.”
The challenge: with a packed schedule of activities for a market relatively unfamiliar with women's basketball (and crazed by Denver Broncos' Tebow and Manning mania), and a limited advertising and promotions budget, how would we attract local families, students, civic leaders and youth groups to all the exciting fan celebration events taking place during the championship?
In partnership with the marketing, public relations, social media and sponsorship teams at the NCAA, as well as its local partners at VISIT DENVER and Denver Sports, GFM's team of seasoned communications professionals worked as a local extension of the NCAA to develop and execute a comprehensive promotional plan focused on grassroots awareness, influencer outreach and paid media in the Denver market. The effort was anchored by a database that GFM carefully researched, developed and tracked containing local contacts from a broad range of civic, community, youth, school districts and business stakeholders—with a total estimated reach of 1 million. In order to maximize the NCAA's limited paid advertising budget, we partnered with local, women-owned media buying firm, Emico Media.
In addition, GFM led several Denver-specific initiatives including a number of firsts for the NCAA:
Collaboration with the Colorado High School Activities Association to promote the events at state high school basketball tournaments,
Street teams to hand out information to families during the Denver St. Patrick's Day Parade,
Outreach to mom bloggers and hyperlocal media outlets, and
Implementation of the Denver Community Drive that awarded $2,500 to the local nonprofit with the greatest number of attendees at the Tourney Town fan festival.
The 2012 Women's Final Four enjoyed incredible success in Denver and set new benchmarks for how future Women's Final Four marketing activities will be planned, executed and measured. In the days before the first tip off, the buzz and excitement for the Women's Final Four in Denver was deafening. Paid and earned media blanketed the local airwaves as well as print, online and outdoor signage in and around downtown, thanks to strategic allocation of the advertising budget to high-impact placements with significant value ad opportunities.
In partnership with the NCAA and its local market partners, GFM converted more than 40 percent of the database contacts into leads for the fan events and generated more than 5.4 million media impressions via paid campaigns and direct community outreach. For the events that GFM was responsible for promoting, just under 20,000 adults and youth participated in the three-day Tourney Town, and another 10,000 children participated in other NCAA-sponsored community events.
The positive energy among fans, young and old, was palpable from Tourney Town to the Pepsi Center, and from the 16th Street Mall to all of Lower Downtown Denver's restaurants, bars and shops. Denver welcomed women's basketball fans from around the country and swelled with pride as its downtown was showcased on the national sports stage—it became a weekend in which everyone rallied around the NCAA, including Denver Mayor Michael Hancock.