This is getting downright comical. Since the moment Illini Athletic Director Mike Thomas took the “throne” in Champaign, the Illini’s Athletic Department marketing strategy has seemed hell bent on trying to put down Northwestern, yet with each new turn, all they seem to do is elevate our brand by coming across as reactionary. The latest move by the Illini is to stage an event in Evanston (at the World of Beer) on May 8 as part of their Illini Coaches Caravan (a marketing tactic NU has been using for more than a decade).
The move prompted Gram
Browsher Bowsher, Northwestern’s Wildside president (the school’s student spirit club) to set-up a Facebook event to crash the party which you can see here. As of 6:30 am this morning nearly 180 have signed up to attend. The Illini are charging $25 to the event and Wildcat fans are ready to Nebraska road game these guys and I highly encourage you to purchase tickets. Browsher Bowsher reminds fans this is an UNOFFICIAL grassroots effort and not affiliated by NU, but you know they have to be smiling reading this. Browsher Bowsher has also encouraged fans to be “clever” but “clean”. Polling is going on as to some clever ways to crash the party and the lead vote getter as of now is a poster of Illini head coach Tim Beckman tripping (and earning a penalty) during our 50-14 throttling of Champaign’s finest this past November.
You might remember that the Orange Krush, Illini’s student fan group, duped Northwestern earlier this year at Welsh-Ryan Arena. Students dressed in purple performed in one of the timeout competitions on the floor only to strip off the purple and reveal their orange shirts sending the 50/50 crowd in to a home court advantage for the Illini. Considering every marketing move Mike Polisky’s team makes is seemingly responded to by the Illini, perhaps this is one worth copying back. How cool would it be to see a packed World of Beer in orange suddenly turn in to a Northwestern pep rally as fans reveal their purple and start singing the fight song? I believe with your creativity and wallet, we can actually get the Illini to cancel this event. If not, they could very well face a pretty embarassing situation.
This could be fun. Perhaps we should rent one of those truck billboards and have the team photo of the Land of Lincoln trophy plastered with the 50-14 score and “LOL HERE” on it as the truck could just circle the World of Beer block (1601 Sherman Ave, Evanston). The news of this overt marketing statement has already hit ESPN.com via Adam Rittenberg’s post here. Perhaps Adam was being so diplomatic because of his Northwestern roots, but make no mistake about this, the Illini have been the reactionary ones in this equation. Let’s review:
- Fitz refers to Illinois as the team downstate or that team down south for years
- Northwestern creates the “Chicago’s Big Ten Team” marketing slogan
- Northwestern creates first step in partnership with Cubs by hosting (and losing) a home game at Wrigley Field in 2010
- Illini AD, Mike Thomas, claims the Illini will be the “kings of Chicago” in his opening presser in 2011
- Tim Beckman, upon being hired, posts an anti-Northwestern sign outside of the lockerroom and forbids his staff to wear any purple. Ever.
- Illinois creates the “Our State/Our Team” marketing slogan which is viewed by many as a response to NU.
- Northwestern ends 2-year drought in series by thumping Illini 50-14 to finish the 2012 season regular season at 9-3.
- Illinois creates an alumni committee to boost its Chicago presence.
- Illinois schedules game in 2013 at Soldier Field vs Washington
Yesterday I referred to the Illini Athletic marketing department as “Project Knee Jerk” and now its time for Northwestern fans to reach out and thank them. You can do so by gobbling up the Illini’s $25 tickets for the May 8 event and show your support for the Wildcats. Let’s have some fun with this.
B1G News & Notes
- Penn State QB Steve Bench has announced he is transferring after he lost out on the starting job in spring practice.
- Interesting perspective from Iowa OC, Greg Davis on the offensively challenged Hawkeyes and how they’ll compensate for their lack of gamechangers at WR.
- The big news in CFB is the College Football Playoff selection committee. This is when you should be very happy Jim Delany is on your side as a Northwestern/B1G fan.
LTP Purple Pledge
Michael Buck gets today’s shout out for moving us to 70 NEW season tickets on our quest for 200 for 2013. Buck now has, get this, NINE season tickets and as he proudly notes only three of them are NU alums. With a 7-game home slate headlined by Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Syracuse and a 10-win season as wind behind us, this should be THE year to convince friends, neighbors and relatives to hop on the bandwagon. Simply call 888-GO-Purple and ask for Mike Zoller and tell him LTP sent you. Then, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll give you your shout out!