BYU men’s basketball looks to increase attendance through small-scale BYU50

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BYU athletic marketing has recently initiated a five-day, fan-focused Cougar Countdown during the week leading up to the BYU men’s basketball home opener against UVU on Nov. 9.

The project is a first for BYU basketball and consists of a total of 10 public box drops throughout Utah County and 20 on the BYU campus just for ROC students.

“Cougar Countdown is like a very scaled down version of BYU50,” said BYU Athletics marketing coordinator Jordan Blad.

BYU50 is an annual summer project that leads up to the first BYU football game. Boxes of BYU merchandise are dropped throughout a different state each day for the 50 days before the game. Cougar Countdown took this idea and applied it to BYU men’s basketball at a local level.

The times and general locations of each public drop site thus far have been announced on BYU basketball’s Twitter account and Instagram story. Similarly, the locations and times for each drop on campus are announced on the ROC’s Twitter account and Instagram story.

Each specific location is revealed through a photo posted at the designated time, leaving fans to decipher the whereabouts of the box and then make their way there.

Each Cougar Countdown box contains two lower bowl tickets to the opening game and different kinds of BYU gear, like a blanket, flag, PopSocket or T-shirt. The first person wearing BYU apparel to the drop site wins the box. The names and contact information for the next five people at each drop are collected to be entered into a drawing at the end of the week.

The five fans who go to a public box drop are entered to win more BYU merchandise and lower bowl season tickets. In addition, the five students who go to a campus box drop with their ROC passes are entered to win additional BYU swag, like Nike gear. All of these individuals need to post a photo to their personal Instagram or Twitter accounts, using the hashtag #CougarCountdown, in order to qualify for the drawing.

The first drop for Nov. 7 took place in North Provo. A photo of the box, located at The Shops at Riverwoods, was posted around 6 p.m. that day. Tyler Thomsen, a junior business management student at UVU, was the first fan to the spot.

“(I’m a) UVU student, but I grew up in Florida as a die-hard BYU fan,” Thomsen said. “I’ve spent probably as many hours camped out for BYU football and basketball games in the last year and a half as I have on (the UVU) campus in classes.”

Thomsen said he spent all week going after the boxes dropped in public and on the BYU campus, finally getting lucky on Nov. 7. He said he had tweet notifications on for both BYU men’s basketball and the ROC’s accounts in order to win.

Thomsen is one of the many dedicated fans who participated in the drops. Robby Peckham, a BYU athletics research analyst who facilitated the drops in Spanish Fork, Lehi and Vineyard, said it was incredible how dedicated the fans were for spending their nights locating and retrieving the boxes.

“It’s nuts,” Peckham said. “Before we could even post (the location), people were already scouting it out and came up to us (asking), ‘Are you guys doing the BYU box?’ It was just incredible.”

Blad said one of marketing’s goals has been to sell out the home opener. She said she thinks basketball has snuck up on people, affecting fan attendance.

Blad said Cougar Countdown is marketing’s effort to spread awareness around campus and Utah about the home opener to boost its attendance and future games’ attendance.

“If we can get out ahead of (people not knowing about games) and get people to the game, then we are confident that we can get them to want to come back,” Blad said.

The drops will continue through Nov. 9.

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