Transforming the NFL Combine into an immersive college tradition
An exciting social campaign targeting college students, for Gatorade's Fast Twitch drink and the NFL Combine
The 2022 summer interns at the NYC-based agency Big Spaceship were tasked with building a social-based campaign around Gatorade's new Fast Twitch drink and the NFL Combine, targeting college students. The campaign’s goal is to increase students' awareness and interest in Fast Twitch, by making the NFL combine a cultural event on college campuses.
I led all UX deliverables by designing digital products and experiential ideas for an immersive component within the campaign.
UX Design Intern—led all UX deliverables
June - August 2022
User research, UI design, Visual design, Interaction design, Wireframing & Prototyping, Testing, User personas, Experiential marketing strategy
Do students watch the NFL Combine?
Most college students who watch football or sports in general only watch NFL Combine highlights via social media. It's almost unheard of to see students—let alone, people—actually tuning into the NFL Combine, and not everyone has access to cable TV and its various alternatives.
The challenge accentuates when considering students who aren't into football in general.
Implement digital products and fun experiential events into our campaign, to better persuade students to buy into Fast Twitch and the NFL Combine.
What have other brands done?
I keyed in on direct and indirect competitors as well as other brands within PepsiCo, to see how they incorporated UX and experiential marketing to promote their products and get a better view of what ideas could work or not.
Students' mixed interest in athletic events
To understand and determine college students's interest in Gatorade and athletic-related campus events, I conducted user interviews with college peers, and sent out a Google Forms survey to subreddits and other online forums targeting current college students.
Interesting quotes from my user interviews:
"I wish there are more special events on campus that don't make me feel embarrassed to participate. I'm into fitness and watch sports with my boyfriend often, so I'd be down for more competitive events if they're fun and don't make me look like a fool in front of other students. Free food and drinks are nice too."
— Jessica, 20, University of Oregon
"If there were to be a big athletic-based event on campus, I'd definitely want a guide that I can access on my phone. Even for a short period of time, it would be helpful to have something on my phone that gives me all info about the events I can sign up for, while being able to sign up or cancel from class."
— Tristan, 21, University of Oregon
Students' responses to my Google Forms survey:
Data was sampled from 20 current college students, not including the two interviewees
Stepping into a student's shoes
I built my personas based off college student insights and pain points from my research.
Time to bring some energy
After synthesizing my research and using pain points from the personas, we came up with three different experiential event ideas for the campaign, with the idea that our clients will choose one to move forward with.
Event Idea 01 // Mock NFL Combine
- Students can perform and compete in NFL combine drills
- Looking back on my findings, this would be best to generate students' interest in the Combine regardless of familiarity.
Event Idea 02 // Immersive VR exhibit
- Take students into the mind of a combine athlete
- My interviewees emphasized wanting to participate in events that mitigate embarrassment of doing in front of others.
Event Idea 03 // Large NFL Combine tailgate
- Centered around an NFL Combine livestream, this is the best combination for camaraderie and community and is the most effective way to give away free food and drinks as desired by my personas and interviewees.
I also designed a user map and app prototypes, as well as leaderboard prototypes, for the Mock NFL Combine (Event Idea 01).
Event Idea 01 // Mock NFL Combine - experience competing in real NFL Combine drills
Inspiration for what a Mock Combine station might look like outside. Photo: Pintrest
Event Idea 02 // Immersive VR exhibit - take you into the mind of a Combine athlete
Event Idea 03 // Large tailgate centered around an NFL Combine live stream
With each of these events, students could receive free Fast Twitch drinks as prizes, various merchandise for attending/competing in competitions, and the social activations within the campaign would always tie in with hype and anticipation leading up to each event.
User map for the Mock NFL Combine event app
Wireframes & prototype sketches - Mock Combine event app & leaderboards
High fidelity prototype - Mock Combine event app
High fidelity prototypes - Mock Combine event leaderboards (first draft)
Incorporating best aspects of each event
Although our initial plan was for them to choose one of the three to move forward with, they wanted us to incorporate the best parts of all three ideas in our final deck instead because they loved all of the ideas.
However, they ended up not going forward with the app for the Mock Combine event, nor the VR exhibit idea, due to time and budgeting constraints. They instead wanted me to continue forward and add ideations, to the other digital products for the mock combine event.
The Fast Twitch Fuel Bus
For our final campaign deck, we tweaked up the Mock NFL Combine event idea and gave it a name: The Fast Twitch Fuel Bus. The Fuel Bus is a mobile experiential event—based around the social activations of the campaign—that visits various college campuses and is the main physical setup for where students can participate, learn about and compete in various NFL Combine events while trying plenty of Fast Twitch drinks.
The Fast Twitch Fuel Bus would be parked in a wide indoor or outdoor area on campus, and inside the bus itself would include one or two combine events. Surrounding the bus would have other combine events set up.
Revised leaderboards for the Fuel Bus
Media kiosk for the Fuel Bus
Because the app didn't go through, I prototyped a giant kiosk instead where:
A whole lot of personal growth
Overall, I thought the project went really well:
Even though we didn't get to implement the event app for the final campaign deck, I saw a lot of growth as a designer and how I can further improve projects for clients like this. Once the final deck is implemented into real life, I'm planning to interview Fast Twitch Fuel Bus participants their reviews on the event and its digital product activations.
Giving trips to the gym a more simple, modern and welcoming feel
(case study coming soon!)