Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Marketing of Bucky the Badger

In the early 1990s, Wisconsin football tickets were sold through a local grocery chain and renewal notices for season tickets looked like utility bills. Schedule posters, once plain and straightforward, now have imaginative themes that utilize props and studio photography. Times have changed in Madison, and the Badgers have become big business, an $80 million enterprise, with hats, trading cards, refrigerator magnets, soft drinks and a website that generated more than 47 million page views during the 2005-06 school year. And it's all done with a marketing budget of $748,100, considered remarkable in a day and age when $80 million businesses typically spend 15 times that in marketing on an annual basis. "A lot of people around the country are looking to Wisconsin to see how it was done right," said Mark Schmitz, who runs a Madison-based design company.

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