The Outland Trophy, presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) to the top interior lineman in college football, is joining forces with the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) for a dynamic partnership and public awareness campaign regarding the importance of flu vaccines.
Steve Richardson, the executive director of the FWAA, and Marla Dalton, executive director of the NFID, announced the collaboration as an exciting, unique way to use the Outland Award as a catalyst for an extensive #FightFlu initiative. Dalton is especially pleased with the partnership, as it “offers a great platform to promote our #FightFlu public awareness campaign to inform and educate football fans across America.”
Now the award, which is one of college football’s oldest, will be given out as the Outland Trophy presented by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. This year, University of Houston junior defensive tackle Ed Oliver attempts to join former Nebraska center Dave Rimington (’81, ’82) as the only two-time winner in the award ’s history. The initial 2018 Outland Trophy Watch List, featuring standout interior linemen from all 10 Division I FBS conferences and independents, will be announced on Tuesday, July 24.
“Over the years we (the FWAA) have always looked for sponsors for other things (awards, title games, etc.). This year, in partnership with Thom Hering at PSP Sports, we were able to identity an ideal sponsor in NFID and together we developed a platform to support the mission of both organizations,” Richardson said.
PSP Sports is best known as a game-day media company that does business with several hundred professional and college teams around the country, and has an extensive advertising client base. The Partner Marketing group inside PSP Sports identifies special opportunities for selected clients to create integrated marketing programs designed to amplify their brands and brand associations.
PSP Sports was a key player in not only identifying, but also crafting, the elements in the Outland Trophy and NFID partnership.
Pairing the Outland Trophy with the NFID’s #FightFlu campaign presents a strong level of creative synergy, as both linemen and vaccines are all about protection.
“We recognized this could be a great partnership effective for both sides. We’re a non-profit, they’re a non-profit; it’s a good cause raising awareness that we support and are proud to be a part of,” Richardson mentioned.
The Executive Director believes this partnership and #FightFlu campaign will be particularly effective because, in addition to rebranding the trophy itself, there will be a new official logo released, and the #FightFlu hashtag will be incorporated in all of the Outland Trophy’s advertising, marketing, social media, and PR material throughout the season.
The #FightFlu initiative will also be featured in many college gameday programs, including the College Football Playoffs and National Championship Game, and will even make its way into many team programs on the sport’s biggest stage: The NFL.
Being connected to the Outland Trophy will give the NFID access to a broad national audience of passionate football fans an organization like theirs may not typically be able to reach.
“It’s really quite perfect,” Richardson stated. “The sponsorship will tie in with the Outland Trophy and everything that goes with it, which includes a highly leveraged campaign for the award itself, and all announcements and interest the award and its watchlist generates annually.”
Every time the Outland Trophy for the top lineman in college football is mentioned, talked about, or debated, the NFID and the #FightFlu campaign will be featured. Whether strategically or serendipitously, the partnership leverages perfect timing.
“The Outland campaign and college football season starts picking up traction toward the end of July, and leads into the fall and winter, which is prime flu season,” Richardson pointed out.
That also happens to coincide with National Influenza Vaccination Week, which is Dec. 2-8 and the Outland Trophy Awards banquet itself, which gets presented every year at an event in Omaha in January.
The Outland Trophy presented by the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases will also have former Outland winner and NFL superstar lineman Joe Thomas as its “official ambassador.”
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Richardson explained, “the trophy itself is for Dr. Outland, who was an outdoorsman, hunter, and passionate about medicine — and with Thomas as the award’s ambassador, he’s a very well-known All-American with upwards of 173,000 followers on Twitter.”
The connection to Thomas will help generate more interest, and the sponsorship as a whole is one of the most effective kind — one that actually makes sense. The NFID is partnering with a trophy and brand very much in line with their values, making this collaboration a touchdown for both sides.