CFP National Championship 2022: Georgia’s Cohesive Digital Brand Spotlights Team’s Season-Long Success
Social-media platforms also showcase next year’s recruiting class
Armed with one of the best defenses — if not the best — in the nation and an offense that aimed to score big against the Alabama Crimson Tide, the Georgia Bulldogs won the school’s third national championship ever and its first in the College Football Playoff era. To bring fans along in the effort, the athletic program’s digital team stepped up its game to deliver personalized player content and generate an overarching creative aesthetic.
“We work in concert with the football department, and [the digital team has] done an amazing job,” says Darlene Camacho, senior associate athletic director, strategic communications, University of Georgia. “Between specified recruiting graphics and personalized video clips, they’re doing the little things that separate us [from other programs]. They’re posting various forms of digital content almost every day.”
From a creative standpoint, the overall goal was to invite the fans inside the team’s journey to the title game. Since the season opener vs. Clemson on Labor Day weekend, followers of the team’s social-media accounts were given behind-the-scenes access to some of the team’s more intimate moments: boarding or disembarking the team plane or bus, a look at the team uniform prior to the game, alternate views of postgame interviews that showed player emotion that wouldn’t be seen on the main broadcast.
“We basically wanted to say, ‘You’re part of us, and we need you to be with us,’” says Camacho. “You’re essentially a part of our team because we’re showing what the players are doing on and off the field.”
To this end, social-media platforms were used to galvanize the fanbase for high-profile home games throughout the schedule. The main athletics account amplified the message. When Georgia reached the No. 1 spot in the AP Top 25 poll, the main account asked the crowd to be louder for the upcoming game vs. then-No. 11 Kentucky by calling on the energy shown during a 34-10 win vs. then-No. 18 Auburn.
In addition to developing a large-scale bond between the team and the community, these digital channels dedicate material to the future of the program as well as to current players. For the latter, a video referenced the “We Just Got a Letter” segment from Blue’s Clue to give quarterback Stetson Bennett some exposure. For the former, on National Signing Day, the Twitter timeline turned into an ongoing scroll of incoming freshmen to join the ranks of the Georgia Bulldogs:
Similar to the Kentucky tweet, the main athletics account shared a different angle on senior defensive lineman Jordan Davis’s conducting the marching band after a 56-7 win vs. Charleston Southern on Senior Day. It was another opportunity to highlight the various personalities of the student-athletes.
“[Davis is] 6´6 and smiling from ear to ear,” notes Camacho. “We caught that from a number of different angles and pushed it out on the football page, our main athletics page, the marching-band page, as well as the main university page. It’s about capturing that other side [of our players].”
To catch the most attention from their fans, the department was on a mission to unify the artwork under a familiar scheme. The staff conceptualized the template as a foundation that could be manipulated to accentuate certain details each week. The templates gradually changed throughout the season: from a cursive-heavy font early in the year to a more neutral palette with vibrant colors and pieces of the city that the team played in. The idea was extended beyond game recaps, including announcement of the team’s All-Americans and Brock Bower’s Shaun Alexander Freshman Player of the Year. Prior to Monday’s title bout, the racing heritage of Indianapolis was captured in a Georgia-inspired NASCAR theme.
“Other universities had [interconnected brands] already, and that used to not be the case at Georgia,” says Camacho. “We asked ourselves, ‘Does our video content look like our posters? Do they both look like our schedule cards? What are the unifying elements?’”
When the stakes grew higher for the CFP Semifinal and it was time to take on the University of Michigan in the 2021 Orange Bowl, the leadup to the game stoked the hype of the passionate fanbase. During the 27-day span between the SEC Championship and the bowl game, the crew tapped into the local flavor of Miami. A prime example of the technique was incorporating the “Savage Shoulder Pads” and Georgia helmet with the murals of Wynwood Walls:
— Georgia Football (@GeorgiaFootball) December 30, 2021
The nearly four-week layoff prior to the Orange Bowl was a long time between games and gave the players an opportunity to relax and enjoy the warm weather and sandy beaches of the area:
@footballuga When in Miami… #beach #swimming ♬ original sound – Georgia Football
Under 24 hours until game time, the department gave the uniform reveal a more cinematic take using the environment of Hard Rock Stadium. During the game, the same colorway seen for other in-game updates featured the backdrop of South Beach in the graphics. The trend continued to announce the Bulldogs’ 34-11 victory over the Wolverines:
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For long-form content, the staff leveraged some of the program’s most famous alumni or supporters for pregame trailers. Featuring popular country singer Zac Brown in Week 7, two-time SEC Player of the Year David Pollack for the SEC Championship Game, and Super Bowl LIII champion Sony Michel for the Orange Bowl, the videos set the tone each and every week. Two-time Super Bowl champion, Super Bowl XXXII MVP, 1998 NFL MVP, and Pro Football Hall of Famer Terrell Davis previewed Monday night’s National Championship:
Comprising Co-Director, Football Creative Design, Chad Morehead; Co-Director, Football Creative Design, Chandler Eldridge; Director, Social Media Strategy and Digital Identity, Jen Galas; Director, Football Creative, Eric Black; Assistant Director, Football Creative Video, Trevor Terry; Photographers Tony Walsh and Mackenzie Miles; and Graduate Assistants Griffin DeJoy and Jack Ozmer, the digital program is starting to ascend to new heights. These up-close displays of the team’s dynamic and a push to connect the brand will help keep the creative juices flowing in Athens, GA.
“I don’t think I could be prouder of them,” says Camacho. “We know we have room to grow and can be better, but we’re on a journey to constantly elevate the bar. I’m really excited for the future.”