Alternative Media in College Football

Company ads surround the Texas Longhorn's football scoreboard.

Overview of Alternative Media used for Advertising Purpose at College Football Events

For decades the advertising community has used college football venues to advertise and promote products and specialized services. Companies who use college football venues for advertising purposes mainly use traditional mass media outlets to reach their respective target markets. These traditional mass media outlets include television, magazine, radio, and newspaper. Advertising through mass media outlets tend to target fans who watch games at home on television, or listen to the games on the radio.

Advertisers must think outside of the box when they want to reach consumers who are attending the games on Saturday. To do this advertisers turn towards alternative media. Alternative media for advertising purposes used during college football events include aerial advertising, such as blimps, balloons, and banners pulled from planes, high-tech video scoreboards, and field goal nets. All of these advertising methods are used to reach a target market inside the college football stadium.

Reasons for Using Alternative Media at College Football Events

The main goal of alternative media for advertising purposes at college football events is to reach the people who are not at home watching the game. People who are at home watching the game on television are able to catch the commercials aired between timeouts. People who are at the football game are only exposed to advertisements that are actually present in the stadium.

Alternative Advertising at college football venues is relatively cheap. Aerial advertising is a very cost effective way to effectively reach virtually everyone who is in there seats during a football game. Video scoreboards draw in peoples eyes. Alternative media in college football stadiums is effective in the sense that there is very little ad clutter and competition. College football stadiums are great places to market local products and services, such as a local car dealership, hospital, banks, etc. College football stadiums are also great venues to market national and global products such as Coca-Cola, Gatorade, McDonald's, etc.

Limitations of the Alternative Media

In advertising there is always limitations. One of the main limitations that advertisers face using alternative media at college football events is the frequency of exposure to the advertising message. Most college football teams play 7 home football games in a year. That means the advertisement will only be seen during those 7 games.

Since 9/11 planes are not allowed to fly over college football games. This rule places serious limitations on aerial advertising. Ariel advertisers can only fly over the stadiums one hour before kickoff, or an hour after the game. However many of the larger banners in aerial advertising are over 60 feet in length and can still be seen from a distance(George).

Video scoreboards often provide advertisements for various companies on one scoreboard. An advertiser who purchases ad space on a video scoreboard will not have his ad displayed for the entire game, unlike your traditional billboard. The ads usually rotate in a sequence.

Costs of Using the Alternative Media

One of the main advantages of alternative media for advertising purposes at college football events is the relatively low prices. All-State insurance, who sponsors the Allstate "Good Hands" field goal net simply donates money to the schools general scholarship fund when a field goal or an extra point is made. To date All-State has donated over 1.8 million dollars to 67 participating schools general scholarship fund.

According to Ted George, at and, aerial advertising starts at $895 dollars and up. The more prestigious the event the more it costs to fly a banner. Prices also increase when they must travel farther. The cost includes 5 passes over the event, and pays for maintenance, fuel, and pilot (George).

Advertising costs on video scoreboards varies from school to school. Advertisers tend to pay more money to advertise at larger and more prestigious stadiums with more renown programs.
Companies pay large amounts of money to host "bowl" games where their product is the primary product being advertised throughout the game.

Reach and Frequency

Alternative advertising at college football events has the potential to reach everyone in the stadium. The potential reach of an advertising message at a college football venue is the greatest strength of the alternative media. However since a team only plays about 7 games a year at their home stadium the frequency of the advertising message is rather low. However larger companies who advertise nationally, at multiple college football venues, will have a higher frequency, than localized advertisers, who are targeting consumers in a specific region, and only use alternative media to advertise at a single venue.


Scheduling and purchasing advertising space at a college football venue is done through the universities athletic department. Depending on the program, companies are able to purchase advertising space for a single game, or the entire season.

Video scoreboard displaying advertisements at West Virginia Universities Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, WV.
Video scoreboard displaying advertisements at West Virginia Universities Milan Puskar Stadium in Morgantown, WV.

Impact of the Alternative Media

The alternative media used in college football venues has an immediate impact into the minds of the consumer. For one, there are not very many advertisements displayed in the stadium using alternative media. Thus, the advertisements that are displayed, are eye catching, repeated, and imprinted into the head of the consumer. Advertisements on video scoreboards, often accompanied with sounds, draw attention, and are easily remembered. A person has to see an advertisement or message three times before they will be able to retain the advertisement or message. Alternative media at college football venues are seen multiple times throughout the game, therefor the consumer is able to remember the product being advertised.

Audience Qualities

The audience at a college football game is very diverse. People of all ages, ethnicity's, and backgrounds attend college football games. All share a common interest for the game or the atmosphere. Since a college football stadium has a variety of people in it, many of the advertisements are for products shared by all walks of life such as sodas, fast food restaurants, etc. Also many products are advertised to appeal to the middle aged, middle class male, such as car advertisements, insurance, banks, etc.


Alternative media for advertising purposes at college football events response varies greatly. It all depends on what advertisements are be displayed and for what product. Response for products advertised like soft drinks is high because the consumer is able to purchase the soft drink on site. It is almost impossible to gauge the response to other products because they vary so greatly from site to site.
Home Depot's college game day set, fitting for middle aged men

Advertisers using Alternative Media at College Football Events

Allstate has raised its famous "Good Hands" field goal net at 67 college football stadiums. Every time a field goal is kicked at any of these schools, the net is raised, and Allstate is successfully advertising, and contributing charitable donations to the schools collegiate general scholarship fund. "Allstate has proudly protected college football fans for the past 78 years."

Allstate "Good Hands" net
Allstate "Good Hands" net

One of the most famed forms of aerial advertisements is the coveted Goodyear blimp. The Goodyear blimp flies over major sporting events, including high profile college football games.

The Goodyear blimp airs above Ohio State Universities stadium known as "The Horseshoe"
The Goodyear blimp airs above Ohio State Universities stadium known as "The Horseshoe"

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