In early 2007, the Big Ten Conference shared with TeamWorks Media their plans to launch their own television network later that year, noting that their already high-profile brand was about to receive even more media exposure and visibility than ever before. They wanted to ensure brand integrity through this exciting venture, and evolve the brand over the long-term to keep pace with the expanding media landscape. The Big Ten is a passion brand, with a loyal and fervent following, and the conference was looking for a partner who understood the audience and could share the brand story with the emotion that their audience would expect and deserved.
TeamWorks Media, who had primarily been the conference’s production partner up to that point, was selected to lead the strategic branding initiative that would achieve those goals. TeamWorks’ combination of marketing, PR, social media and visual content professionals, in collaboration with the conference, first developed the brand foundation – brand statement, brand guardrails, and creative direction. Next came the brand infrastructure (planning process, graphic standards) and finally the brand thematics for marketing campaigns that are adapted annually.
Since laying the groundwork for the brand and the creative direction, we’ve produced numerous external and internal campaigns that evolve annually. Each campaign is a comprehensive effort, often using resources like television, digital media, on-site activation and events, and PR as appropriate. With their brand identity in place, our campaigns have achieved conference goals while simultaneously evolving how all athletic conferences positioned themselves. Our Big Stage and Fan Camp campaigns used music and humor (gasp!) to break the mold of the traditional conference TV spot forever.
Inspirational campaigns such as Find Your Voice and Impact the World, underscore the breadth, depth and impact of alumni accomplishments and bridge the generation gap while delivering a call-to-action to the Big Ten community. We created sport-specific campaigns to appeal to a narrow target demographic through use of music, carefully sourced and selected talent, and powerful imagery that resonates with this younger audience: Big Stage featuring Talib Kweli, Big Ten Soundtrack featuring Janelle Monae, De La Soul, Chuck D, and Slam Poetry. This strategy opened the door to additional PR placements in unique lifestyle outlets.
And perhaps you’ve seen the I Will campaign. We created both national and school-specific versions that highlighted the many strengths of the conference – the national reach of the brand, stadiums, facilities, big-name alumni in the NFL. The Faces of the Big Ten brings the brand personality to life, showcasing the personal and relatable stories of hundreds of student-athletes.
For TeamWorks Media, the Big Ten Conference is a story unfolding. We’re honored to be part of not just telling the story today, but telling each new story as it unfolds to a new generation of fans, supporters, students, and the larger Big Ten community.