87 (Opposite page) The Ross-Simons kiss cam at Providence College; (this page) an A&M focus group at Gardner’s; Uptown Diamond’s RFP
“The student market is its own animal. You have to reintroduce yourself every four years.”
not necessarily about how much money you make off each person who gets a gift letter,” Simone says. “It’s that you’re getting your name in front of 10,000 people per game.” The point of any kind of athletic spon—Julia Gardner, David Gardner’s Jewelers and Gemologists sorship, especially a local one, is to engender goodwill and show you’re part of the community, says Michael Levin, associate us visibility with students and alumni,” Julia explains. “The professor of marketing at Otterbein University in Westerville, student market is its own animal, and you have to reintroOhio. “You’re also tapping into a base of identity attachment duce yourself every four years to a new group.” to a university—not just from people who went there but also Consistency is key when advertising at college athletic the aspirational group, the people who support it athletically.” events, says John Torella, senior adviser with retail consulting firm J.C. Williams Group. “If you’re going to do [someGAMES AND GIVEAWAYS thing like this] just once a year, forget it,” he says. Sierra-West Jewelers in Orem, Utah, has been working with Beyond the games themselves, the Gardners work with Brigham Young University’s athletic department for more Texas A&M in another way: They hold monthly in-store fothan 25 years. “It’s a great way to get their brand in front of cus groups, designed to help guide Gardner’s engagement ring our students and our wealthy alumni,” says Jared Bell, general sales and marketing efforts. The groups typically have 25 to 30 sales manager of BYU Athletics. people, mostly female students, Julia says. However, the store At football and basketball games, packets from Sierramakes a concerted effort to gather groups of men—mostly West are hidden under 80 seats; one contains a diamond. juniors and seniors—twice a semester. While the sessions with During a timeout, an announcement lets attendees know to the women are important (for feedback on the style and shape check beneath their seats. The winner is revealed at the next of rings they covet), the men’s participation is invaluable, she game, and Sierra-West gets another mention. says, because they are usually the ones who buy the jewelry. The store also brands itself at alumni events and at the courtside seats reserved for the wealthiest attendees. For THE SPORTING LIFE these, the retailer provides elegant marketing brochures. At basketball games at Providence College in Rhode Island, Hamilton Jewelers in Princeton, N.J., runs a program marketing for the Cranston, R.I.–based Ross-Simons comes with nearby Princeton University. The jeweler collaborates down to a kiss. At a dozen events each year, the camera pans with the school’s human resources department to provide a over the crowd, then stops on a couple for a kiss that is feaselection of items—ranging from jewelry to timepieces—for tured on the digital screen along with the Ross-Simons name. associates to choose from when they are going to receive a Each kissing couple receives a “gift letter” for $200 to any of gift through the university’s employee recognition program. the company’s nine stores (including the Warwick flagship and “It’s a turnkey solution for busy human resource teams eight other locations, which operate under the name Sidney and avoids many issues typically found in selecting award Thomas). At the end of the season, the 12 couples are asked to gifting,” says Hamilton vice president Donna Bouchard. come to center court at halftime and receive a box from Bob In addition, the retailer is a licensed provider to the school Simone, chief operating officer of Ross-Simons. Eleven boxes for many exclusive jewelry and home-accessory items (think hold a cubic zirconia; one contains a diamond ring. tiger-themed tableware). “It’s brand equity to work with these The store has been sponsoring the kiss for nine years. “It’s elite pillars in our communities,” Bouchard explains.
If you’re preparing to pitch a university, be sure to heed this advice from Rick Antona of Uptown Diamond in Houston:
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Use video to bring your presentation alive. Antona included the University of Texas song, logo, and campus photos alongside information on Uptown Diamond and its products in his video presentation. Hire professionals. Antona worked with his public relations company. Be transparent. “This makes the college feel they can completely trust you,” Antona says. “We gave a complete history of ourselves and answered every question.” Find out the college’s issues with past sponsors, such as delivery times and the quality of work, and make sure you detail a solution to each one in your presentation. Show how those issues won’t happen with you. Bring along jewelry samples so college representatives can see and touch them.
JCK 2017 September/October Issue