The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

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The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

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“Pony Up” campaign in middle of rollout

Billboard located just past intersection of Lovers Lane and Central.
Mark Norris
Billboard located just past intersection of Lovers Lane and Central.

Billboard located just past intersection of Lovers Lane and Central. (Mark Norris)

The Athletic Department hopes students, fans and Dallas area residents are ready to “Pony Up” for SMU football this season. The department’s new marketing campaign is centered around the “Pony Up” catchphrase, which began rolling out in late July.

This week the department unveiled the second phase of the campaign, which brings the message outside the SMU community. Drivers along Central Expressway this week noticed two new billboards near the overpasses of Lovers Lane and Knox-Henderson. They featured the “Pony Up” logo, which is the SMU Mustang logo with a chalkboard written arrow pointing upwards, along with short phrases next to a SMU football helmet. One says that fans at SMU “boulevard” rather than tailgate. The other focuses more on the team, saying it cannot be called a dark horse anymore.

“We wanted something unique,” said Richard Sweet, who was one of the leaders in creating the new campaign as the director of marketing for SMU Athletics. Just as the rollout began Sweet decided to return to his former employer, Southwest Airlines.

Schedule cards, posters and t-shirts available for sale on the athletic department Web site featuring the logo were the first phase of the campaign. The goal of releasing the logo alone was to generate awareness and a buzz about not only the logo, but the entire ad campaign.

Dallas area residents will only see more SMU related ads in the upcoming weeks.

The next item to go up around the city will be pole banners. They will feature the “Pony Up” logo along with SMU’s home football schedule. The banners will be located in places with a high-traffic count and areas that are relative to SMU.

The final phase involves TV and radio advertising. Those ads will not begin airing until the week before the home opener against Texas Tech. That game is on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 3 at 3 p.m.

Sweet said the decision was made to blitz the area with ads regarding the game the week before to generate an increase in walk-up ticket sales. Discussions were held to decide how it would be best to do that – whether a slow and steady TV/radio stream or a heavy barrage near the date. Ultimately it was decided a heavy hit close to the game would be most effective.

The “Pony Up” message will also be prominent in Ford Stadium this season. Athletic department officials plan on giving out a white t-shirt with the logo on it to each student in the student section for the first home game. Officials want to create a white out so that SMU students will stand out on TV against the Texas Tech fans.

As for the genesis of “Pony Up,” Sweet said a strategic team from the Richards Group along with members of the SMU staff used the market research done in the spring to figure out the best way to get the SMU message out.

A creative team took that information and came up with several presentations. The “Pony Up” campaign was the winner. It was selected because the up arrow could represent many things about SMU athletics – whether it was the increased commitment, the improved play, increased support of fans or other related improvements.

SMU football billboard located at the intersection of Knox-Henderson and Central Expressway. (Mark Norris)

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