FOX Sports University partners with USC to grow hockey in SoCal

Members of the USC's Marshall School of Business took part in the FOX Sports University's program.

Top Trojans marketing students had the opportunity to go beyond the crowds and bright lights to get a taste of the business.

Last fall, FOX Sports West partnered with USC’s prestigious Marshall School of Business to ask students, "How would YOU grow the sport of hockey in Southern California?"

Through the FOX Sports University program, students in Prof. Lisa Cavanaugh’s Advertising and Promotions Management course broke out into 4-5 person teams and were given a theoretical budget of $1 million — and not much else.

"We didn’t say, ‘Do steps A and B, and then show us C, D, and E.’ We really wanted students to take their own paths with the project and showcase their creativity," says Whitney Burak, Director of Communications at FOX Sports West.

Burak admits the project brief wasn’t a walk in the park, either.

Instead of focusing on a single team, the students were tasked with promoting the LA Kings and the Anaheim Ducks equally and without favoritism — yet, in a cohesive fashion. Take into consideration the fact that hockey (typically a sport celebrated in the Midwest, East, and Canada) has struggled to gain a foothold in California for decades.

Needless to say, some students were daunted by such a tall order.

Nevertheless, by the end of the semester, all parties were impressed with the work that had been completed. Student teams had each submitted 50-pus page campaign booklets, complete with primary and secondary research, strategy reports, media plans, and creative mock-ups. Teams also had 30 minutes to pitch their campaigns live to Fox Sports West executives in a real-world trial by fire.

The winning team’s campaign would inspire future hockey promotions created by the regional network.

After poring through volumes of work and hours of presentations, a campaign with the theme "It’s Hockey Time in Southern California" was chosen as the winner — created by USC juniors and seniors Joe Siltanen, Hanah Merenstein, Emily Vuong, Dillon Railey, and Winston Li.

"What made this campaign different," said FOX Sports West Director of Marketing Ian Lavallee, "was the realization that hockey shouldn’t be marketed to Southern Californians the same way as it’s done on the East coast. Instead of pushing Canada down, or driving a stake between Kings and Ducks fans, this work elevated Southern California as something unique and worthy of pride, regardless of team allegiance."

Unexpectedly, the student team got to see their theme put on-air in mere months, rather than having to wait until next season. With the Kings and the Ducks meeting each other in the playoffs for the first time ever, FOX Sports West wanted to commemorate the momentous occasion, and a truly SoCal ad was the way to do it.

Instead of pushing Canada down, or driving a stake between Kings and Ducks fans, this work elevated Southern California as something unique and worthy of pride, regardless of team allegiance

-- Ian Lavallee, Director of Marketing, FOX Sports West

Concurrently, the #FreewayFaceoffFoto social media campaign is inspired by the aesthetic style of the team’s work.