June 2, 2014

Ferris State Athletics Kicks Off Summer Sales Program By Inking Record Lead Sponsorship Deal With National Guard

Big Rapids, Mich. - Ferris State University Athletics has kicked off its 2014 summer sponsorship and advertising sales campaign by inking its biggest corporate deal ever, making the National Guard the Bulldogs' lead sponsor for the second consecutive year for the 2014-15 athletics campaign.

FSU and the Michigan Army National Guard, which have partnered together for the last five years, recently signed a new contract which makes the local National Guard unit the biggest cash sponsor ever for Bulldog Athletics, topping the previous record deal the two sides originally inked together last summer.

"The National Guard has been a tremendous supporter of Ferris State Athletics and we're extremely excited to kick off another summer by announcing this corporate sponsorship," said FSU Associate Athletics Director Jon Coles. "Their efforts and commitment to Bulldog Athletics have enabled us to expand and grow our brand. We're thankful for their continued support and believe this is a great example of a win-win situation on both sides."

The Michigan Army National Guard runs the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program on the FSU campus in Big Rapids. The Army ROTC is the premier leadership course in the country and part of the college curriculum. Upon graduation, officers are commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Active Army, Army Reserve or Army National Guard. More than 20,000 cadets are currently enrolled across the country with up to 100% tuition assistance offered. 

"We've increased production in terms of our recruiting with the National Guard locally more than 175 percent since beginning our partnership with Ferris State Athletics," said SGT Stan Pelak, the local National Guard recruiter on campus who played a key role in the partnership deal. "Presently, we're the top soldier-producing university in the state of Michigan and it's directly related to this sponsorship.

"This past year, our office had its best year ever and we're already forecasted to top those numbers this year due in large part to this continued partnership with Ferris State Athletics," he added.

As part of the sponsorship deal, the National Guard will continue to receive an extensive sponsorship and advertising package that includes signage, public address announcements, social media recognition, on-field and on-ice promotions, dasher boards, in-ice logos and more. This past year, they were also the presenting sponsor for the popular "Ferris State Friday's" segment that aired on WBBL 107.3 FM in Grand Rapids each Friday morning during the fall and were the sponsor of collateral material such as posters and schedule cards. 

An additional part of the package has included the National Guard as the official sponsor of the "Dawg Pound" hockey student section, which has exceeded its original capacity the last two years with more than 600 student season ticket packages sold. The student section, which is regarded as one of Division I college hockey's best in the country, helped the Bulldogs post a 16-1-1 home mark this past year en route to the school's second regular-season conference championship in the last three years and an NCAA Elite Eight finish.

As part of the sponsorship agreement, the National Guard will continue to be the Bulldogs' official facebook sponsor at facebook.com/ferrisathletics, which currently has more "like's" than many of the other in-state Division I schools such as Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Oakland and Detroit. In addition, they will be an active sponsor of the school's official athletics website at FerrisStateBulldogs.com where more than 5,000 people visit on a daily basis during the season along with FSU's twitter account (@ferrisathletics), which ranks among the top 25 of more than 300 NCAA Division II member institutions. The Bulldogs' hockey twitter account (@FerrisHockey) is tops of all the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) schools.

"The National Guard recognizes the value of partnering with Ferris State Athletics and the benefit they'll receive from maximum exposure," said Coles. "Their role as the lead sponsor continues to have a significant impact on our program as we continue to build championship teams both on and off the playing surface." 

During home football Saturday's, the National Guard has handled the Ferris State Queens Court, which raises the flag at every home game and shoots the cannon after every Bulldog touchdown. The ROTC and National Guard have also been spotlighted during hockey home games as part of the National Anthem with the presentation of the colors. 

"This partnership between the National Guard and Ferris State Athletics continues to be a win-win situation for both parties," SGT Pelak said. "We're excited about having the opportunity to significantly impact the athletics program while at the same time receiving tremendous marketing exposure thru Bulldog Athletics." 

Ferris State Athletics' marketing and promotions initiatives annually help increase advertisers' visibility on an instant basis. Whether sponsors need more local, global or national attention, FSU offers advertising options that make an impact in sponsors' target markets while supporting their favorite athletics programs.

"We've also partnered with Ferris State Athletics since we started our business many years ago," said local supporter Gary Trimarco, who owns Gary Trimarco Automotive in Big Rapids. "It allows us an opportunity to show support for Ferris State Athletics while reaching a very important regional demographic for our products and services. We get a great response from our sponsorships and have always found the Ferris State representatives professional and helpful. It continues to be an integral part of our marketing efforts."

As in the past, the Bulldogs continue to provide incentives for potential customers thru a variety of avenues such as gameday sponsorships, signage, advertising and more. This year, those efforts continue to expand with new inventory such as the weekly Ferris Sports Update television show aired across the state on Fox 32 and Comcast, the recent installation of the school's first video board at Top Taggart Field and the expected addition of new scoreboards for both volleyball and softball this coming year.

"We've shared a great partnership with Ferris State University and Bulldog Athletics for many years," said Karl Linebaugh, president of Chemical Bank. "Being a sponsor of Ferris State Athletics has allowed Chemical Bank to receive multiple advertising opportunities while continuing to follow our mission of supporting local organizations that provide everything from leadership, education, entertainment and support to our local communities."

For additional information on Ferris State Athletics' marketing and sponsorship program, please contact Jon Coles at (231) 250-4082 or via email at colesj@ferris.edu.

Additionally, for more information on the Army ROTC program at Ferris State or the National Guard, please contact SGT Pelak at (231) 591-5321 or by email at stanley.pelak@us.army.mil. The National Guard also holds an office on campus in Bishop Hall room 621.

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