Fresno State

Fresno State fans inspired by latest marketing campaign. But will ticket sales increase?

Fresno State Athletics’ marketing campaign: Pride of the Valley

Fresno State Athletics has released a marketing campaign video intended to highlight pride in the central San Joaquin Valley and motivate citizens to support Bulldogs athletics and become season ticket holders.
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Fresno State Athletics has released a marketing campaign video intended to highlight pride in the central San Joaquin Valley and motivate citizens to support Bulldogs athletics and become season ticket holders.

Fresno State put its new marketing campaign out this week.

The billboards featuring running back Ronnie Rivers at 99 and Shaw, 41 and Central, Blackstone and Shaw.

The banners on campus of Mykal Walker and other Bulldogs.

The Pride of the Valley lawn signs.

And a Pride of the Valley video that’s been an instant hit, generating almost 93,000 views on Facebook and 84,000 on Twitter.

Whether that will translate to a spike in ticket sales and induce more people to go to football games in a decrepit Bulldog Stadium or basketball games at the Save Mart Center is, however, the $50,000 question.

That’s roughly how much Fresno State invested in the latest marketing campaign including trade outs and partnerships.

“It’s reaching all over,” said Frank Pucher, senior associate athletics director for external relations. “I think the only thing in our athletics history that has more engagement might be the Boise (State) victory, but we may have surpassed that or if we haven’t we’re approaching it.”

Fresno State has not sold out a home football game since the 2014 home opener against Nebraska despite going 10-2 with a division championship in the Mountain West Conference and a Hawaii Bowl victory in 2017, and going 12-2 with a conference championship and a Las Vegas Bowl victory in ‘18.

Fresno State last season had an announced attendance of 36,000 just one time in six home games at its 41,031-seat stadium.

And on two occasions, that announced crowd dipped below 30,000, including just 26,162 on a Senior Day for several homegrown Valley stars that included quarterback Marcus McMaryion (Dinuba) and linebacker George Helmuth (Fresno), as well as wideout KeeSean Johnson, the program’s all-time leading receiver.

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Fresno State wideout KeeSean Johnson (3) pulls in an 81-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Marcus McMaryion in a 28-17 victory over Boise State on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2017. Johnson comes into the 2018 rematch on a streak of 45 consecutive games with at least one reception, the longest active streak in the nation. ERIC PAUL ZAMORA ezamora@fresnobee.com

Attendance at Fresno State men’s basketball games has been worse, stuck in a long and steady decline.

The Bulldogs, despite winning 20 or more games for a fourth season in a row, had an announced attendance of 5,807 per game at the 15,596-seat Save Mart Center.

The actual tickets scanned at gates was significantly lower – fewer than 3,500 per game.

So centralizing the brand and Fresno State’s ties to the Valley were seen as an important step, said Pucher, who was hired in January by athletics director Terry Tumey.

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Fresno State’s Braxton Huggins, center, drives to the hoop between New Mexico players Dane Kuiper, left, and Vance Jackson during their game at the Save Mart Center in Fresno on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. CRAIG KOHLRUSS ckohlruss@fresnobee.com

“It was the absolute perfect day in terms of the response we got,” he said. “Does all that sell tickets? Not necessarily. I think now we’re on people’s radar again.

“I think we’ve reestablished our commitment to the Valley. We’ve reestablished our messaging. We’ve reestablished our brand. The work we do now is where we take advantage of that. Now when we start doing our tickets and everything else, I think it’s going to fall on open ears.

“That was the whole point, to boldly put it out there that this is who we are and now we can do the strategies on trying to fill the stadium.”

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Fresno State coach Jeff Tedford is 11-1 at Bulldog Stadium in two seasons at his alma mater. The Bulldogs last season were 12-2 and won a Mountain West Conference championship and the Las Vegas Bowl. CRAIG KOHLRUSS Fresno Bee file

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