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NIU Marketing Department wakes up, decides to actually market athletics

aka the triumphant return of Thunderstix

What has happened this off-season has completely boggled my mind.  If you've been paying any sort of attention the past 5 years or so, any terms of Marketing NIU athletics in any way has been minimal at best.  They all of a sudden swallowed a genius (or common sense) pill out of nowhere this summer, capped off by the recent announcement of 2009 game promotions:

Fans attending the Huskies' home opener versus Western Illinois on Sept. 12 are encouraged to wear red or, even better, NIU Cardinal, while the Thursday night home finale versus Ball State on Nov. 12 has been designated as the annual "Black Out" Night. Black T-shirts (5,000) will be distributed to fans at the conclusion of the Nov. 5 contest versus Eastern Michigan with instructions to return a week later wearing the shirt.

Thunderstix, always a student favorite, will be available at three games - the season opener versus Western Illinois, the Oct. 3 Homecoming contest versus Western Michigan and the Ball State game. NIU Rally Towels are the giveaway item for the Sept. 26 contest versus Idaho.

We're doing an official "Black Out" Night?  Really?  If I remember correctly our "Blackout" last year was a guerrilla marketing campaign on facebook with minimal planning.  Awesome idea.  The only concern is that the EMU will fall behind the Huskies big early, so people will probably not stay the whole game to grab the shirt.  Rally towels and pom-poms are always a nice addition. 

Providing Thunderstix was also a guerrilla campaign last year headed by the NIU fan group Red Riot for one game.  Thunderstix are a throwback to the glory days of NIU from earlier this decade. 

Sidenote: Check out those awesome Michael "The Burner" Turner flaming hats + free t-shirts as well!  We beat Urban Meyer in that game when he was coach of #20 BGSU in case anybody was wondering.

I don't really know why we got rid of them, probably some budget issue.  This isn't the only PR the Huskies have been working on...

Buried in the deep catacombs of official blog Huskie Happenings, we can find the details of most of these marketing efforts.  Here is their evil plan en route to world domination (and season ticket sales):

Step 1: Get the Huskies on TV as much as possible


By Brett McWethy | Posted at 9:12 am on Tuesday, July 7, 2009

By now, you've probably already seen the initial video on our new front page media player, in which coach Kill tells his team how to "swallow the frog" en route to a passing touchdown.  Now, for you couch potatoes, you'll be able to see these commercials on your cable television.  The commercials will air on ESPN, TNT, the History Channel, The Learning Channel, Discovery, Comcast SportsNet, the Big Ten Network, and during televised Cubs and White Sox games.  The time slot for the commercials is from 5 p.m.-Midnight.   

Step 2: Embrace Social Media:


By Brett McWethy | Posted at 9:07 am on Tuesday, July 14, 2009

As we teased last week, NIU Athletics is now on Twitter.  We have officially launched our address at  Follow us!

Step 3: Get the ladies in to it:


Step 4: Get out there in the public eye:

NIU Day at the adidas Outlet Store
Saturday, July 25 - Noon-2 p.m.
Premium Outlets Mall (Farnsworth Rd. and Route 88), Aurora, Ill.

Meet NIU Head Coach Jerry Kill between 1 and 2 p.m. and stock up on your adidas gear for the football season at the adidas Outlet Store this Saturday.  Pick up your free 2009 football poster and schedule cards, see the Northern Illinois cheerleaders and Victor E. Huskie and purchase a special edition Northern Illinois football t-shirt.

Step 5: Drink up

NIU will have its schedule on a pop can TBA starting in next few weeks

Step 6: Make like Girl Scouts:


By Donna Turner | Posted at 9:13 am on Friday, August 14, 2009

You've seen the commercials on TV, caught the ads at your local movie theater, and picked up a schedule card, poster or schedule magnet at one of the local businesses, but this week, households throughout DeKalb will have Huskie Football hung on their doorknobs as the Northern Illinois marketing staff is taking to the streets in an effort to get more people to the 2009 games.

NIU expects to distribute 2,500+ door hangers, which include the complete 2009 schedule and ticket information, over the next several weeks.  So if you get an invitation to "Experience It Live!" and already have your tickets, pass it on!

A big thank you to AD Jeff Compher & Shelley Binegar for their efforts this off-season.

Did I miss anything?