• Blog: Are Event 'Swag Bags' Worth the Cost Anymore?

    by Mary Helen Sprecher April 2014

    I registered for a community fun run/walk not long ago and as I was walking away from the entry desk, I checked through my race packet. Race number? Check. Safety pins? Check. Flyers for multiple upcoming races? Check, check and check. 

    And then – paper. Lots of paper. Coupons, advertising circulars, take-out menus, subscription postcards for magazines and business cards for local establishments. As I was heading for the exit, I heard the person behind me complain, “This is all ads. Didn’t we used to get more stuff in these things?”

    Admittedly, we did. I can recall when things like socks, sweatbands, can koozies, pens, packets of energy gel, sunscreen and lip balm were routinely tucked into those bags. These days, not so much.

    And that’s not really surprising. Event organizers are scrambling for sponsors, and some sports events’ major sponsors have dropped out. And those who are able to keep their sponsors are often faced with the choice of having funds that potentially could defray the cost of the event – or gimmes to put in the swag bag. It’s not surprising that many organizers are opting for the former, rather than the latter.

    When you get right down to it, companies just aren’t buying as many inexpensive souvenirs to be used as giveaways. A colleague who works in promotional merchandise, noted that trends in merchandising have changed. Slap bracelets, key chains and so forth are not as popular as they once were. Why? Because companies know they’ll get tossed as soon as the recipient gets home. Items have to have inherent value in order to be useful as promo pieces these days. Companies tend to invest in putting their logo on more expensive merchandise (earbuds, thumb drives, etc.) and they save those for events to which they have made a sizeable sponsorship donation – and in which people have paid significant funds to register.

    Many times, organizations that sponsor events, particularly smaller events, do it in exchange for publicity, meaning having their coupons or other materials dropped into the swag bag. Those bananas and cereal bars at the finish line? The trade-off was the coupon or the take-out menu.

    Generally, people just go through the swag bag and pull the materials they want, and discard what they don’t. And as long as they put their trash in the can (and not on the ground), organizers have done their part.

    Sometimes, though, companies really want to give out freebies, but the choices on a bare-bones budget are limited.  I think my head-scratching moment came when I went through a race packet and came across a postage-stamp-size piece of fabric (honestly, no bigger than 1” x 1” square) that was marketed as a way to vanquish fingerprints from the screen of a smartphone. Nice, but – where to store something like that? And while I appreciate the gesture, I can’t say the item made it home with me.

    In this day and age of sustainability and cost-cutting, goodie bags are an endangered species. Increasingly, people are coming home from smaller events empty-handed. And maybe that’s a good thing. 


  • Social Media Revolutionizes Campus Rec Marketing

    by Paul Steinbach April 2014

    As the literature on the bulletin board went unnoticed, Chris Butler could see the writing on the wall.

  • News and Notes From the IHRSA 2014 Trade Show Floor

    by Michael Gaio March 2014

    There’s nothing like attending a good trade show, especially in the fitness industry. The equipment, the innovation, the music, the energy, the people… Whether it’s our show or IHRSA, I consider attending these shows to be one of the perks of my job.

  • Examining NCAA Corporate Sponsorships

    by David K. Stotlar and James C. Kadlecek March 2014

    Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the April 1993 issue of Athletic Business with the headline "What's in it for Me?"

    What's in it for me? That’s what corporate sponsors are asking, and that’s the question sports organizations have to answer if they want those companies’ financial support. A survey of NCAA sponsors might help provide some insights. 

    With most corporate involvement in sports marketing now geared toward return-on-investment—not “warm and fuzzies”—one of the keys to attracting corporate sponsors has become understanding the business goals of a sponsor. Although a great deal has been written the last few years about the increased need for and benefits of corporate sponsorship in intercollegiate athletics, little research has been available that discusses companies’ attitudes toward intercollegiate sponsorship. 

  • Customer Service Targeting the Club Membership Majority

    by Rob Bishop & Barry Klein February 2014

    No good deed goes unpunished. Said differently, we’ve decided that at times we provide customer service that is too good.

    We don’t mean that arrogantly. What we mean is that we can’t care about things that aren’t important to the majority of our customers. It’s just too hard, and it takes a toll on us financially, professionally and emotionally.

  • Incredible Video From the Denver Broncos Parachute Team

    by Michael Gaio January 2014

    The "fan experience" is something people who work in sports facilities are always trying to improve. Whether it's wider concourses in a new stadium or different pre-game entertainment, anything to make fans happy is fair game. A big part of the fan experience at Denver Broncos games is their official parachute team, the Thunderstorm.

  • Looking at Your Club Business Through Fresh Eyes

    by Rob Bishop & Barry Klein January 2014

    Welcome to the new year! The days are shorter, New Year's resolutions are inducing guilt, much of the country is in the depths of winter, and there's nothing for a lot of folks to do but go off and join a gym. Everyone knows they have to get in shape. Now's the time.

  • NFL Teams Restrict Playoff Ticket Sales by Location

    by Nick Daniels January 2014

    When the San Francisco 49ers head to Seattle Sunday for an NFC Championship matchup with their division rival, CenturyLink Field may be more hostile than they remember. announced Saturday tickets for the game would only be available to fans with billing addresses in WA, OR, MT, ID, AK, HI and British Columbia and Alberta in Canada when they went on sale at noon Monday. As a result, San Francisco fans hoping to make the trek up to Washington Sunday will have to look to other means if they want to attend the game. Niners fans in California can still buy tickets through secondary ticket markets like Stub Hub, NFL Ticket Exchange and TiqIQ — although at a much higher price. While the face value of a ticket to Sunday’s game could be purchased on the team’s official website for as low as $222.95, the lowest price for a ticket to the NFC Championship on was $461.50 as of 6 p.m. Sunday.

    To many San Francisco fans, the move seemed to be an effort by Seattle to maintain its “12th man” home-field advantage against a 49ers team that has traveled well so far in the playoffs. “I’m sure they’re not concerned about the appearance, but it still looks kind of weak,” wrote's David Fucillo on Saturday.

    Still, while Seattle’s ticketing move may have the largest effect next weekend, the Seahawks’ decision not to sell to their opponent’s fans is not uncommon. In the AFC Championship Sunday, the Denver Broncos will only be allowing fans from eight neighboring states to buy tickets to their game in Denver against the New England Patriots. More than 96 percent of Broncos season ticket holders elected to purchase tickets, however, putting a greater limit on the number of available tickets. 





  • Stanford, Northwestern Use Reverse Auctions to Sell Football Tickets

    by Paul Steinbach December 2013

    With three marquee home football games in November, Stanford University fully tested the ticket-buying market over two weeks in August.

  • Technology and Social Media Alter the Future of Heisman Trophy Campaigns

    by Michael Gaio December 2013

    As gutsy coaching calls go, this one ranked right up there with any in the career of Baylor University's Art Briles. What set this one apart, though, was that it was made away from the football sideline.

    Briles' decision to give Baylor's athletic communications staff the green light to pursue an all-out Heisman Trophy campaign for a then under-the-radar quarterback named Robert Griffin III would change the school forever and rewrite a marketing playbook for other schools with Heisman hopefuls.