Students work with FOX Sports U, gain campaign knowledge

Students work with FOX Sports U, gain campaign knowledge

Monday, December 12, 2016 - 9:30am
Students pose for a photo with FOX Sports executives.
Students worked throughout the semester on the creation of campaign ideas to address FOX Sports' awareness among Big Ten college football fans.

by Savanah Baker

Students from the College of Journalism and Mass Communications worked with FOX Sports U throughout the fall semester to develop a campaign that would drive awareness and excitement for FOX Sports college football programming.

FOX Sports recently acquired a media deal that will give them shared rights with ESPN and the Big Ten Network to televise Big Ten college football games beginning in the 2017 season.

The class was offered as a special topics course and was divided into four teams that competed against one another to create the best campaign.

The four teams named themselves the Blue Bandits, FOX Channel Changers, FOX Royalty and Unraveling Red. Each team consisted of an account executive, research director, art director, a media team and a copywriter.

Kimberly Borza, manager of marketing and strategic partnerships for FOX Sports, explained the purpose behind FOX Sports U and working with students.

“FOX Sports University offers students a chance to work with a real world client, FOX Sports, on a real world challenge,” Borza said. “The students are given a taste of what working in the sports industry is like, and are given hands-on instruction and feedback from FOX Sports executives.” 

The class was co-taught by Associate Dean and Professor Frauke Hachtmann and Lecturer Kelli Britten.

“This felt very genuine and authentic,” Britten said. “The conversations that were had and the ability to create these connections…with a national client is something that we haven’t been able to offer outside of this course.”

Students in the course worked with executives from FOX Sports, FOX Sports U and the Big Ten Network. The students were able to ask questions during mid-semester critiques and gain knowledge from the client on what they were looking for in the campaign.

“I think we learned that accepting criticism and having to change (our idea), while keeping it our idea, was important,” Rikki Beedle, a junior advertising and public relations student said. Beedle served as the account executive for Unraveling Red, the team selected by FOX Sports with the best campaign.

The teams in the class presented to FOX Sports executives on Nov. 29, and Unraveling Red was chosen as the winner. This presentation was part of a multi-school, national competition and the winning campaign from University of Nebraska–Lincoln was assessed against student presentations from Northwestern University and the University of Maryland, which each had a class that was presented with the same challenge.

The winning campaign out of the three universities was a team from Northwestern. The students on that team had the opportunity to attend to the Big Ten Championship football game for a behind-the-scenes look into FOX Sports’ broadcast and technology game-day operation.

While the campaign from University of Nebraska–Lincoln did not win overall, Hachtmann and Britten said they could not be prouder of what their students accomplished.

“These classes are evidence of what our students learn in our entire program,” Hachtmann said. “It’s not just one class because (students are) really pulling from everything else they’ve learned.”

Borza also said working with University of Nebraska–Lincoln students was a good experience.

“We (were) extremely impressed with the final campaigns the students developed this semester,” she said. “Their ideas and presentations were creative, professional and aligned very well with the goals of FOX Sports.”

FOX Sports U not only provides students with hands-on experience, but it prepares them to enter the sports industry.

“This type of experience and exposure sets FOX Sports U students apart from their peers, and has led to the hiring of over 50 interns and 14 full-time FOX Sports employees through the FOX Sports U program,” Borza said.