Duke’s Mayo Bowl: Standing Out Through NIL

College football teams around the country have started to claim bowl eligibility, which means Bowl Season is right around the corner. 

The introduction of Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) last summer changed the world of college athletics – not just for student-athletes, but how brands navigate athlete marketing. Charlotte Sports Foundation took their Duke’s Mayo Bowl sponsorship to the next level in 2021 by diversifying their sports marketing approach and dipping into NIL. 

“When thinking of how to market the Duke’s Mayo Bowl, we focus on being distinct, relevant, and speaking in the language of fans,” said Miller Yoho, Director of Communications and Marketing at Charlotte Sports Foundation. “With the introduction of NIL and its evolution, we spent time questioning if it was the correct tool for us, but the more we learned from other organizations and our conversations with Opendorse, we discovered we could use it as an effective platform to continue to build the bowl’s brand before, during, and after the week of our game.” 

Before the big matchup between North Carolina and South Carolina, Duke’s Mayo Bowl sent NIL deals to student-athletes on participating teams. The deal was simple: Student-athletes were asked to post a photo posing with the jar of Duke’s mayo from their welcome bag and post on Instagram and Twitter. In exchange, student-athletes received compensation. 

In total, 25 posts we’re shared across social, generating 25K+ engagements. 

The Duke’s Mayo Bowl wasn’t done there. They named their first ever “Duke’s Mayo Bowl Ambassador,” South Carolina standout Dakereon Joyner. He was offered a $5,000 contract to help continue to tell the story of the Duke’s Mayo Bowl into the offseason via social media posts and other opportunities. 

“Quite frankly, I don’t think we could manage our NIL marketing without the help of Opendorse,” said Yoho.  “The amount of communication and legwork needed to manage a single post, much less a campaign, is incredibly time-consuming – and time is the one thing we don’t have in the month of December. Plus, our contact gave us perspective and suggestions that increased the visibility and effectiveness of our NIL deals. That was crucial when it came to recapping our success.”

The Duke’s Mayo Bowl is already working on plans to partner with student-athletes again this year. 

“Hopefully more bowls are engaging with NIL as a way to build their brands with prospective fan bases – which means the Duke’s Mayo Bowl needs to change things up to remain unique,” Yoho, said. “We definitely are bringing back our Bowl Ambassador program, but we also are already thinking of how to create impact using NIL in spaces outside of football. But that’s all I can share for now!” 



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