During hot summer days, one constant has whetted Kansas State fans' appetites as they eagerly await fall Saturdays at Bill Snyder Family Stadium: The voices of Collin Klein and Arthur Brown. The team co-captains serve as spokespersons for an Internet promotional series that has caught fire and become the craze of the Wildcat Nation.
Fittingly named "The Sixteen," the K-State football promotional video series unleashed by the K-State athletics department (www.kstatesports.com/16goals/) heading toward the 2012 football season not only delivers a bevy of chilling I-remember-when clips and memorable plays from 2011 that paved the way to the Wildcats' winningest season in eight years, but the series also highlights in entertaining fashion the simple 16 Wildcat Goals that have long been the program-building pillars under legendary head coach Bill Snyder.
The series was meant to serve as a piece of marketing material in this dot-com age with ticket sales in mind. It's grown into so much more.
"The fans are so attached to it," said Scott Garrett, Assistant Athletic Director for Ticketing and Fan Strategies. "We've received so many views and people wait for the next one. It's been a lot of fun going back and looking at everything that happened last year and transitioning that to this year.
"Certainly, wins help sell tickets but the series has given us something to promote throughout the course of the last 10 to 12 weeks versus just getting a letter -- 'Hey, buy tickets.' We can attach a message to it to get fans excited for the upcoming season."
"The Sixteen" is the brainchild created by 10 to 12 representatives from the K-State athletics department, a committee that features Joni Smoller, Director of Fan Experience and Sales; Dave Smoller, Director of Internet Services; Video Producer Preston Koerner; Graphic Designer Ron Cook; Kenny Lannou, Assistant Athletic Director for Communications; and football support staff.
The committee convened in February for a brainstorming session.
"One person was at the marker board and it was one of those deals where no idea was a bad idea," Lannou said.
After about an hour, Josiah Feuerbacher, assistant football video coordinator, spoke up.
"You know," he said, "there's Coach Snyder's 16 Goals."
"It was as simple as that," Lannou recalls. "You could see light bulbs light up amongst everybody."
The question: How to present the 16 Wildcat Goals in a way that might fire-up fans for the upcoming season and perhaps prompts them to purchase tickets?
"We basically devised the concept and chose Collin and Arthur, one offensive team co-captain and one defensive co-captain, as spokespersons for this promotional idea," Lannou said. "We decided to use the 16 Goals to do a few things. We wanted to break it up into different segments to show these 16 Goals aren't only used to turn into wins on the football field, but that these 16 Goals can also apply to our fans, our student-athletes in the classroom and in the community, and as they go on into life.
"We decided we were going to take each of these 16 Goals, knowing there was going to be a video component to each, and come up with a theme for each goal."
Lannou, Garrett and Joni Smoller devised a comprehensive proposal for the promotion and presented it to Snyder in his office. The videos would be just one segment. The theme would also spread to billboards, advertising campaigns, ticket brochures and tickets. The 2012 media guide cover would also feature the now-identifiable image of Klein and Brown awash in a darkened background with the back cover artfully listing the 16 Goals.
"We showed Coach Snyder the concept and explained to him that we know these 16 Goals is what the program has been built upon and it's what has really taken the program back to where it is now," Lannou said. "It's something that's team oriented, program oriented, and just a really good story about what the football program is all about. You may see Collin and Arthur's faces, but the videos highlight a different player, a different position, and are really focused on every aspect and every player in the program.
"Coach Snyder was very responsive to that. It was one of the most efficient and quickest meetings we've had with him. Once we received his approval, we got it going.
"Really, what we decided to do was holistically tell the story of the 16 Goals in as many ways as we could."
The series has maintained an aggressive schedule leading up to the season opener against Missouri State on Sept. 1. The athletic department chose to release each goal at random to keep fans guessing which video might be unveiled next. Each video requires hours upon hours of video production and editing and spans an average of 2 minutes in length.
"Overall, you're probably looking at a couple weeks of work ahead of time before each launch," Lannou said.
The results have been immediate.
"This is a newer concept," Garrett said. "It's gone viral and fans have been able to see it as soon as we put it out. You put out a video and don't have to wait to send somebody something in the mail. It's totally different than five or six years ago."
Garrett said K-State football public season ticket sales have increased by 3,500 over this time last year and that K-State continues to near season ticket records. Student tickets have increased by about 1,000 and the 3,200-capacity ICAT section sold out faster than it has in the past six or seven years.
"Our trajectory is really good for the whole season," Garrett said.
Snyder lauded the promotional campaign while addressing a crowd at the Wichita Catbackers event last week.
"They've done a wonderful job on the Internet," Snyder said. "You hear about or see the 16 Wildcat Goals. We've made a big deal of that over time. These young people truly believe that. They'll talk to you about these 16 goals and their adherence to it."
Devising successful marketing and promotional campaigns is nothing new for K-State. The Fan Experience and Sales department earned top honors for its men's basketball campaign at the National Association of Collegiate Marketing Administrators convention last June. Meanwhile, in the last five years K-State publications such as media guides have reaped 18 top-5 national honors.
Lannou believes K-State has conjured another gem.
"We certainly think it's about the best promotional item we've seen," Lannou said. "There are certainly some other ones out there. I'd be certain this one would be nominated again in the marketing field to garner such a distinction."
Feedback has been positive and ongoing among fans and counterparts.
"We've had a few other schools across the nation, through their football staff, marketing and sports information departments, that we've been in contact with and they've said, 'Hey, our coach saw these videos and we're really impressed with them. Nice job,'" Lannou said. "Imitation is the highest form of flattery, right? So who knows down the way if any of those schools might take the same idea, but we've definitely received feedback from other institutions that have really, really liked the concept and execution of the theme."
Klein or Brown alternate in delivering the same message at the conclusion of each video:
"If we as individuals accomplish or achieve these goals, then we as a unit will be successful."
In an effort to reach K-State fans and spur excitement heading toward the 2012 season, the athletic department achieved its goal.
And then some.