May is the magical time of year when college athletic programs start unrolling football schedule posters. There's a formula to the creating a college football schedule poster that most art directors follow.
Football player, players or coach looking tough? Check.
A non-offensive mantra coined by the coach? Check.
Atmosphere that resembles the lifeless landscape of Mars? Check.
The poster usually ends up looking something like this:
Or even this:
Or, (deep sigh) this:
You might note that of the elements mentioned, "Fans" is not one of them. Screw fans, amirite? All we do is complain about play calling and buy tickets and merchandise. We're part of the background, not the process! Our job is to cheer, then shut up and go home!
Except, the marketing staff at Arkansas State don't see it that way.
"We’re going to be putting a lot of the focus on the fans this year," says Jason Martin, who you may know as The Permanently Helmeted Associate AD. "Our creative team found a concept from an Australian Rules team poster that we loved and thought fit well with the vision we have for our marketing plans next year."
During the A-State Spring Game, the Red Wolves marketing team set up a photo booth in the concourse, and invited decked-out fans to pose for photographs. The photos were then incorporated into the schedule poster, which looks terrific:
In 2015, the Red Wolves dominated the Sun Belt for attendance and viewers, and the A-State staff wanted to acknowledge "The Defending Sun Belt Attendance Champions" with a place of honor on the poster. But the fan-centric nods aren't stopping with pretty pictures.
"One of the follow-on elements that plays out this week is a 'championship banner' we created for the fans," explains Bill Smith, Executive Director for Marketing and Communications. "It will travel with the A-State Coaches Caravan this week, and it is identical to a series of banners we made for photo opportunities when our teams won Sun Belt Championships. Afterwards, the banners hung in an atrium in the Reng Student Center."
The A-State Coaches Caravan makes stops in NW Arkansas, Memphis, Jonesboro and Little Rock this week, so there will be plenty of opportunities to check out the fan banner. Meanwhile, fist-bump to the Red Wolves marketing department. We fans appreciate getting some props, yo.