Jon Mark Beilue: Super Opportunities Await

Jon Mark Beilue Jan 31, 2019
  • Jon Mark Beilue
  • Athletics

Super Opportunities Await

AMA chapter explores marketing in America's biggest event


From Steve Jobs and the iPhone, to Toot ‘n Totum, to the Super Bowl, it’s been a wide range of seminars hosted by the restart of one of West Texas A&M’s oldest — yet newest — student organizations.

“Marketing is becoming very technical, very analytical,” said Dr. Syed Tariq Anwar, professor of marketing and international business. “It’s more important than ever that we keep students up-to-date, involved and engaged.”

In 2014, the WT chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA) was reborn. The chapter had been active until the late 1980s, but monthly luncheons in Amarillo were not convenient for students, some participating faculty left, and student interest waned.

But nearly five years ago, Dr. Turkan Kilic, associate professor of marketing, decided to take another run at the AMA. The result has been just what she and Anwar, a co-adviser, have hoped — an engaged, active and successful student start-up.

WT’s chapter is one of 370 among universities in the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and abroad. Last year it was honored nationally on the collegiate level of AMA and recognized among other top on-campus groups. WT’s group has held steady with just more than 25 students each semester. There’s more than 30,000 members, 11,000 of them college students. .

Since the chapter’s inception, they’ve hosted 20 seminars that are open to the public. They’ve covered the gamut from “Steve Jobs and the iPhone: Branding Issues and Global Strategies,” “Marketing Cities and Creating New Ventures” and “Marketing and Operating Strategies of Toot ‘n Totum.”

“Every seminar, we make sure students are involved,” Anwar said. “Students are why we are here. But we also get deans, professionals in the business world to attend. In the real world, you might pay $400 to $500 to attend one of these. We make it free, and it’s good visibility.”

On Super Bowl week, this seminar was easy to tee up. On Wednesday, three panelists — Clint Brakebill, KAMR sports anchor, WT Director of Athletics Michael McBroom, and Randall Whalin, chief marketing officer of the Fairly Group — held court on “The Super Bowl Phenomenon: Marketing Lessons and Strategies.”

What, you were expecting “Marketing Strategies for Sears?”

“The Super Bowl itself is a phenomenon,” Anwar said. “It’s like no other in the United States.”

There’s no event that galvanizes Americans like the championship of the National Football League that on Feb. 3 pits the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII. Last year 103.4 million watched the game, and a 30-second commercial spot this year will go for $5 million.

The Super Bowl’s first year in 1967 — two years before it was called the Super Bowl — had 32,000 empty seats in the 95,000-seat Los Angeles Coliseum. Tickets for the first one were as low as $10. This year, the average price online through Seat Geek ticket brokers is $5,602.

More than 100 million viewers mean 100 million consumers. More than $5.4 billion has been spent on Super Bowl advertising in the first 52 of these. And with so many focused on one event, marketing around that event can become a feeding frenzy. Not marketing the event itself — which is the 800-pound gorilla — but marketing a product tied to the event.

The game is on CBS this year, but when it’s on NBC, Brakebill said KAMR, an NBC affiliate, takes advantage.

“When we have the Super Bowl, we run new promos and market our on-air personalities that week,” said Brakebill, a WT graduate. “We market ourselves, so if you’re thinking of the Super Bowl, you’re thinking of KAMR.”

As far as content, Brakebill looks for local angles to market to viewers since national outlets will saturate the air with major themes. This year, Rams defensive end Ethan Westbrooks is from WT, and he even got a clip with Westbrooks comparing his first NFL game like his first game as a Buffalo.

Patriots running back Rex Burkhead played high school football in Plano, where current Palo Duro head coach Chris Fisher was an assistant. The two are close, and Brakebill interviewed Fisher about his former player.

McBroom, athletic director at WT since 2006, watches the Super Bowl with less of a sports mind and more of a business mind.

“I watch the Super Bowl to try and gain some insight as to what successful companies do to get the most bang for the buck,” he said. “I look at each ad and if we can glean some things that can relate to our marketing of the WT community and alumni, we’ll do it.

“Some companies are doing YouTube videos around the game. Their cost is the production of the ad, and not the placement. You couldn’t do that 20 years ago.”

Whalin has been with the Fairly Group since 2016. The Fairly Group is a risk consulting firm whose high-profile clients include the National Football League and this summer’s concert tour of the Rolling Stones.

There will be a number of new companies who choose the Super Bowl to launch their products in a new way, Whalin said. None was more famous than Apple, whose one-minute groundbreaking commercial in 1984, directed by Ridley Scott, launched the Macintosh computer to take on IBM.

“You’ll see five trends in advertising this year,” Whalin said, “and some are culturally motivated.”

More advertising will be geared to women, which now make up more than 40 percent of the viewing audience. Secondly, celebrity endorsement advertising has lost some appeal.

“The public knows why they’re endorsing – they’re getting paid,” he said. “Young audiences like messages that are more spontaneous. You’ll still see the celebrity, but not as much clout.”

Whalin said advertisers likely won’t touch the risky hot button of politics — “too risky in this day,” he said — and humor, maybe the hardest of all forms to pull off well, will still be a Super Bowl staple.

And like Apple 35 years ago, some new companies will try hard to make a first-impression splash.

Next up for AMA in the coming months: the DeLorean Motor Company and the global automobile/trucking industry. Unlike Super Bowl Sunday, 105 million pounds of avocados for guacamole dip aren’t attached to those.

Do you know of a student, faculty member, project, an alumnus or any other story idea for “WT: The Heart and Soul of the Texas Panhandle?” If so, email Jon Mark Beilue at

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