Milk Markets With Gannett's HighSchoolSports.net
Hyper-local sports content is getting a lot of attention for start-ups ranging from statistics (maxpreps.com to social networks (takkle.com) to streaming events (yoursports.com). So it stands to reason that old media would seek to leverage existing infrastructure and put significant resources behind their own hyper-local sports site as Gannett has done with HighSchoolSports.net, where more than 16,000 public high schools have a home page. Like most sites in this space, HighSchoolSports.net's business model includes various forms of brand sponsorship.
Today, Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) is launching an integrated title sponsorship with "The Ride," a new sports reality show starring eight high school quarterbacks. The custom promotion from MilkPEP, which runs The National Milk Mustache "got milk?" Campaign, highlights the importance of protein recovery for teen athletes after athletic events or training. "The Ride" will appear online exclusively on HighSchoolSports.net, a division of the Gannett Digital Media Network. The National Milk Mustache "got milk?" Campaign leverages HighSchoolSports.net to reach teen athletes with relevant content from "The Ride" series. This new sports-reality show follows the high school quarterbacks through an intense training program with the nation's top coaches for a chance to play in the 2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl. With more than 1.7 million monthly unique visitors at the height of football season, and strong skews for both 12- to 17- year-olds and moms, HighSchoolSports.net offers an authentic context for marketers targeting these highly active and influential consumer groups.
Through sponsored ads on HighSchoolSports.net, the Milk campaign promotes a training routine with lowfat chocolate milk. HighSchoolSports.net also showcases the "refuel with milk" message throughout episodes of "The Ride" with appearances from renowned sports-science professional, Steve Swanson. The site enables Milk to create a national campaign that also reaches high school athletes at the local community level.
"The National Milk Mustache 'got milk?' Campaign is thrilled to be partnering with Gannett and HighSchoolSports.net on this exciting, new opportunity," said Julie Buric, Vice President of Marketing for MilkPEP. "'The Ride' gives us a real and relevant environment for our message, where we can effectively educate aspiring athletes on the benefits of making the right choices, like drinking milk to refuel with high quality protein and the right mix of nutrients after exercise."
HighSchoolSports.net will feature full episodes of "The Ride" and other exclusive content, such as player profiles, behind-the-scenes photos and exclusive clips featuring top coaches and celebrities such as Ron Jaworski.
"We've worked with the team at HighSchoolSports.net for several seasons, and continue to be impressed with their ability to deliver Milk's target audience of teen athletes and create compelling content and integration opportunities," said Mark Karlan, Associate Media Strategy Director at Lowe New York. "With 'The Ride' not only is our message delivered in a very cool and exciting experience, but we were able to integrate a powerful nutrition and 'refuel with milk' message in-program with Steve Swanson, a leading sports-science expert."
New episodes of "The Ride" will appear for the next 4 weeks and remain online this winter, then repeat in July and August, leading into the 2010-11 football season. The winner will be announced on New Year's Eve 2009, with Episode 9.
"With our intense focus on the teen athlete demographic, HighSchoolSports.net offers Milk a unique opportunity to reach its target audience with a message about healthy training through a custom ad experience," said Peter Lundquist, Vice President and General Manager of Gannett High School Sports. "We are dedicated to providing engaging content for our audience and helping marketers develop customized solutions that create the most relevant, exciting ad experiences possible."