Fresno State Athletics’ marketing campaign: Pride of the Valley
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.
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.
“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.”