The Harvard Athletics Department’s month-long billboard advertising campaign—in which three billboards were erected around Boston encouraging locals to attend Harvard football games—will begin wrapping up later this week, as the first of the billboards will be taken down.
The campaign represents a new effort by the Athletics Department to attract local residents to Harvard sporting events and familiarize them with the institution.
It is also the first time the department has used billboards for promotional purposes.
“Hopefully, these billboards are capturing people’s attention on their commutes, and this awareness will translate into increased attendance and greater exposure for Harvard football,” said Susan Byrne, Associate Director of Athletics for Sales and Marketing.
The three advertisements all feature an action shot of Josue G. Ortiz ’12, starting defensive tackle for Harvard football, along with a Harvard athletics shield and a banner for GoCrimson.com.
The first billboard was posted across from the Museum of Science, Boston along Monsignor O’Brien Highway during the week of Sept. 5. The second was posted the following week along Route 1A in Revere, Mass. The final billboard was installed the week of Sept. 19 along Western Avenue in Allston.
Each billboard was purchased for four weeks, but the advertisements will stay up longer if no one else buys the space.
The Athletics Department would not disclose the cost of the advertising campaign.
“We’ve always tried different methods of advertising—this year we wanted to try a different medium,” Byrne said. “This year, we’re doing more with social media as well, but I thought it would be worth a try to do more brand awareness in and around the city.”
Harvard football’s home-opener against Brown on Sept. 23 is the only game to have passed since the launch of the campaign, so it is too soon to assess the success of the advertisements, Byrne said.
However, Harvard head football coach Timothy L. Murphy said he has already seen a marked improvement in fan interest and enthusiasm.
“When I looked up in the stands at halftime of the Brown game, pouring rain the whole time, to see our side almost completely filled ... I think our people and our marketing department are doing a great job,” Murphy said.
Although the Athletics Department supports and funds all 41 varsity teams at Harvard, it only reserves advertising funds for the College’s six ticketed sports: men’s football, men’s and women’s hockey, men’s and women’s basketball, and men’s lacrosse. Byrne and the marketing office hope to employ similarly nontraditional methods to advertise the other ticketed teams in the future.
“It’s all about generating awareness and getting some nice publicity for the teams,” Byrne said. “It’s not all about the Patriots in Boston, it’s not all about Boston College—Harvard football and Harvard sports is a great experience.”
—Staff writer Patrick Galvin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.