N.C. State launched its new sports marketing campaign on Friday but not without a hiccup.
The one-word promotional concept “#Statement,” with the increasingly familiar hashtag for Twitter, is designed to be a way for N.C. State fans to share what makes their experience as a Wolfpack fan unique.
“We wanted a campaign that our students, alums and fans could all have an interactive voice in, one that was more personal, had a deeper emotional connection, and was less consumed with wins and losses,” said Fred Demarest, the school’s associate athletics director for communications and marketing.
The new direction for the marketing campaign was specifically designed to be a departure from the oft-mocked “Our State” campaign which became a punchline after the Wolfpack football team went winless against four in-state foes in 2013 and the men’s basketball team lost to relative Division I newcomer N.C. Central this past season.
The only hitch is that Mississippi State had a similar campaign to “Statement” in 2011 for its school-wide marketing purposes. The Bulldogs also used a variation of “Our State” before N.C. State started that campaign in 2012.
It didn’t take long for North Carolina fans on the Inside Carolina message boards to point out the similarities between N.C. State’s new campaign and Mississippi State’s “Make a Statement” slogan.
Demarest, who was hired in February after working in the athletics department at the University of Florida for 12 years, said he was aware of Mississippi State’s version and the difference with N.C. State’s new campaign is in the execution of the concept.
“We’re certainly sensitive to the history there,” Demarest said.
The campaign was well-received on Twitter when it was launched on Friday morning. Several former athletes participated in the launch, including basketball greats Julius Hodge and Dereck Whittenburg and football greats Mario Williams and Nate Irving.
Hodge, the ACC Player of the Year in 2004, tweeted a picture of himself from his graduation with the caption: “Graduating and leaving a legacy was my #Statement.”
Irving, a linebacker for the Denver Broncos, was nearly killed in a car crash before his senior season at N.C. State in the summer of 2009. He tweeted a picture of his wrecked car, and one of himself in a Denver uniform with the tagline: “Survival was my #Statement.”
The campaign is planned to be featured throughout the academic year at football games and at basketball games. Demarest said the aim was to make the campaign as interactive and personal with fans as possible, hence the initial focus on social media.