Here’s some pro bono marketing advice for the Sun Belt

I’m an advertising and marketing guy, which means I spend a great deal of my time critiquing outdoor boards. Internally, I debate the merits of each board, trying to gauge the effectiveness. Outdoor boards are expensive, so most people who buy the space feel the pressure to cram as much information as possible onto it: phone numbers, website urls, physical address, headlines with clever wordplay, a collage of photos representing everything and nothing. “Less is best” with an outdoor board. If you can’t say it minimalisticly, then don’t buy an outdoor board.

That’s some free advice. I normally charge an arm and a spleen for that kind of wisdom. I’m feeling charitable, so now I’m directing my penetrating advertising acumen to enhancing the Sun Belt brand. Were the Sun Belt to hire an ad agency to do this, it would likely cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and eventually some kind of IRS audit. Don’t thank me.

Truth One: Branding Isn’t Truth

Cynically speaking, there is no truth, there’s only perspective. In advertising, we take it a step further: there is no truth, only aspiration. For example, just look at Mike Aresco, bombastic commissioner of the American Athletic Conference. You might be wondering how that “Power 6” bullshit started. This is how the man himself put it:

“We probably haven’t done enough to say we’re in the Power group, but the more I thought about it there’s no admittance to this, no one admits you to it. It’s not like the autonomy group where you’ve gotta get legislative support and you’ve gotta somehow find a way in because it’s a quasi-official group in the NCAA. I said you know this is gonna be up to the public and the media to determine whether they think we’re a Power 5.”

“So a few years ago we thought about, why not Power 6?”

The Daily Stampede, “Mike Aresco Isn’t Crazy. He’s Actually Refreshingly Honest About His “Power 6″ Conference”

In short, Aresco eschewed the truth and went all in on aspiration. And you know what? It worked. The world laughed, then it listened, and finally, you kinda have to accept it. Aresco challenged the AAC to live up to a slogan, and it did.

Truth 2: The Sun Belt Needs To Grow A Set

I’ve heard that Keith Gill is a “nice guy.” Hey that’s great, yay. Why not rename us The Nice Conference? We could politely step aside and allow more brazen conferences to win more market share.

Or, we could start stomping on toes and crush a few feelings.

Too brazen? Na

As a citizen of the Sun Belt, I’ve eaten more poop sandwiches than most people. It’s time to serve that crap up to everyone else. During the last decade, the Sun Belt has shed its dead weight and has steadily increased its quality of play. And what’s our reward? We get nothing! It’s time we adopted a Joan Jett attitude. Every time Gill gets on the TV or the radio, he needs to calmly inform the nation that all other conferences (especially the Power 5) can suck Uranus rocks. Post game coaching interviews should be 100% “It was difficult to get up for this game,” and “The fourth quarter was mostly for padding stats and giving freshmen some reps!” It doesn’t matter if we win or lose. Everybody is beneath us.

Remember what the great George Costanza tells us: It’s not a lie if you believe it. Everybody thinks Rowdy Roddy Piper was a great wrestler, but have you ever seen him win a wrestling match? Nope. Moxie was his greatness, and it can be the Sun Belt’s too.

Truth 3: Completely Insult the Group of Five

Sorry, G5: it’s just business. Don’t take it personally when a Sun Belt player “mistakenly” calls San Diego State an “FCS bodybag game.” Just grit your teeth and take it when Keith Gill announces that only the Sun Belt and a few quality P5s have legitimate claims to the College Football Playoffs. When talking about the MAC, calling them “the MEAC.” Suggest that Conference USA should change its name to Conference USSR. I don’t care. We’re clearly so far above the rest of the Group of Five we might as well just play in-conference – which we should tell ESPN we’re considering.

Listen, we wouldn’t be the only conference dissing our peers. Look a the SEC: It Just Means More. What the hell is that? Notice that no matter how much the rest of the world ridicules that marketing campaign, the SEC continues to just roll it out? They know it makes fans of peer conferences furious! Let them wail and groan! We’re the Sun Belt, damnit.

There you go, Sun Belt. That’s all my free advice. Everything else will cost you a nickel plus expenses. If you want more, let me know, and I’ll send you an estimate.

PHOTO CREDIT: That’s my photograph, Ace, and so is that great logo I made for the Sun Belt