I admire cleverness in any form, probably because I’m so un-clever myself. And the 2010 Lemonade Award — so named for the capacity to take lemon-like circumstances and render them almost palatable — goes to the clever clogs (British term) in the Georgia Tech athletic department.
Tech offered up a frankly classic press release over the weekend, the first sentence of which reads: “Georgia Tech’s special ticket offer to the Advocare V100 Independence Bowl — priced at $14 in honor of the Yellow Jackets’ 14th consecutive bowl appearance — has been extended through Christmas.”
Given that Tech fans have devoted the past 12 months to making fun of Georgia, which played in the 2009 Advocare V100 Independence Bowl, and given that the Jackets enter this postseason at 6-6 after losing four of five games and their best player to a broken arm, nobody thought Tech could give away tickets to this showcase in scenic Shreveport. (Which qualifies as a port only because the Red River runs through it.)
But Tech has gotten all pro-active on us. It is coming close to giving away tickets without doing so. Regular prices for a Independence seat are $42 and $37, which means you can buy from Tech’s allotment of 10,000 tickets at one-third the rack rate.
A 67 percent discount is enough to make you think seriously about buying anything, is it not? But Tech didn’t leave it at that. From the release:
“The response from our fans for this special ticket offer has been very good,” associate athletic director Wayne Hogan said. “In just six days we have sold nearly 3,500 tickets and are approaching our goal of having at least 5,000 Yellow Jacket fans in Shreveport.”
“When fans go online to purchase tickets, there is an option to donate tickets, which is fine,” Hogan said. “But our goal is to have Yellow Jacket fans in the stands supporting our team.”
Then the capper, also a Hogan quote:
“With Christmas around the corner, tickets make for perfect gifts or stocking stuffers.”
And there we have it. A cut-rate sale that appeals to school pride, the concept of philanthropy and the spirit of Christmas. A brilliant bit of salesmanship that acknowledges what everybody is thinking — we understand if you don’t want to go to Shreveport, but you can just give the tickets away! — without actually saying it. Classic.
About here, you might be wondering: Why does Hogan say Tech’s “goal” is selling 5,000 tickets when it was required by the Independence Bowl to take twice that many? Because the ACC offers bowl ticket relief for its member schools after 6,000 are dispensed, and Tech can burn off another 1,000 by handing them to band members for admittance and to players as comps. So if Tech gets to 5,000 tickets sold, it can get to 6,000 tickets distributed, which is the threshold that matters.
About here, you might also be wondering: Is Tech, which can’t afford to lose money on anything, going to lose money on this bowl excursion? According to Hogan — this part wasn’t in the release — “we’ll absolutely do no worse than break even, even after subsidizing the ticket discount.”
If you’re Tech, that’s the best you can hope. You move enough tickets at whatever price to meet your contractual obligation, and then you call it a day. Nobody gets rich, either in terms of money or image, by going to Shreveport. (The Independence’s payout is $1.1 million, roughly one-third what the Chick-fil-A Bowl pays its ACC invitee.)
Give Tech credit: It’s trying its best to make this work. In the history of athletic promotion, there has never been a better line than Hogan’s about tickets making “great stocking stuffers.” And if you were wondering whose idea it was to price tickets at $14 as a salute to 14 consecutive bowl berths … well, that was Hogan’s, too.
Beats the heck out of selling tickets for $1 a pop in honor of the Jackets’ missed extra point in Athens, wouldn’t you say?
By Mark Bradley