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Bobcat Blackout 2015

Friday, October 16 2015 11:50am

MSA Students sell out of 3500 Exclusive blackout shirts a week prior to Bobcat Blackout game vs. Western Michigan on Oct. 17th.

By Todd Moore ('16)

Since it began in 2011, Bobcat Blackout has been a thorough success at inspiring excitement for a selected Ohio home football game. It has also presented Masters of Sports Administration students with the annual challenge of selling 3000+ shirts in a matter of weeks.Mcdavis

This year students wasted no time in turning that challenge into an opportunity. 3500 exclusive shirts designed by Hartwell Studio Works arrived on August 14th and on Saturday, October 10th, one week before the Bobcat Blackout football game against Western Michigan, the shirts were officially sold out.

The inventory planning, marketing, promotion, and personal selling of the shirts is an unparalleled complement to the MSA classroom education, and the success of those efforts is evidence of the hard work of students.

Courtney Ksiazek (’16) and Eric Mayer (’16), the co-Directors of the effort this year, claim the early sell-out of the product this year cannot be attributed to just one factor.

“Our success this year was reliant on having a fresh perspective on every aspect of this Sports Administration tradition.  We viewed this year as an opportunity to 're-brand' since it has been going on for 5 years now and juniors and seniors on campus likely have at least 3 iterations of the shirt,” said Ksiazek.

That idea of rebranding led to two key decisions: adopting a new logo that looked nothing like those used for Blackout shirts of the past, and the decisions to print that logo on shirts made of high quality dry fit material, supplied by ’09 MSA graduate Mike Levine of Brand Marketing Works, LLC, instead of the cotton blend used in the past.

“The design was key to our success and we knew it had to evoke a reaction and emotion to anyone seeing it.  We wanted something that no one on campus had seen before and that you couldn't get anywhere else.  Friend of the Sports Administration program, John Hartwell of Hartwell Studios, did an unbelievable job translating our vision to a reality,” said Ksiazek.

“When you get that design in front of people in creative ways like unique social media content and branding around campus it sells itself. Plus, the great deals from sponsors that came with the shirt made the purchase decision easy.”

The early sell-out also puts MSA students in unique position for the initiative. They have time to market the football game and adjacent events instead of focusing on shirt sales.

Mayer is looking forward to that opportunity.

"One of the biggest advantages of the Sports Administration Graduate Program is our partnership with OHIO Athletics. For years, the department has graciously worked with the Center for Sports Administration to provide practical field experience, and a chance to cut our teeth in areas of our unique professional interests.”

Selling the shirts out a week early this year actually allowed us to dedicate the week before the game to marketing the event instead of focusing on selling shirts. It is the least we can do to help the Athletic Department drive gate receipts for support that it gives our program,” said Mayer.BobcatBlackoutSales

Jim Kahler, Executive Director of the Center for Sports Administration, is very pleased with how this promotion came together this year. 

“Every year, Bobcat Blackout and Green Fever get a little bit better.  That’s a testament to the hard work of our students, but also freedom that OHIO Athletics gives them in promoting the events,” said Kahler.

“This year you really saw everything click. The execution was great, the marketing was excellent, and the social media campaigns were engaging. When all of that aligns with high effort and energy from the students, you get an excellent outcome like we had this fall.”

The October 17th game against Western Michigan is set to be a noon kickoff. It will be followed by two other Blackout events at the Convocation Center: Basketball Bobcat Madness at 3:30 pm and a Blackout volleyball game against Toledo at 7:00 pm.

Whether you’ll be watching from the stands at Peden Stadium or from home, hopefully you’re one of the lucky ones to be enjoying it in the comfort of a 2015 Bobcat Blackout shirt.