Case Study

Gatorade Fast Twitch x 2023 NFL Combine

Transforming the NFL Combine into an immersive college tradition

— Project Background —

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

My Responsibilities
• User research & testing
• UX design
• UI & visual design
• Experiential marketing strategy

Project Duration
June - August 2022

— The Campaign's Challenge —

Do students even 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 actually tuning into the NFL Combine, and not everyone has access to cable TV and its various alternatives.

The Goal:
Implement digital products and fun experiential events into our campaign, to better persuade students to buy into Fast Twitch and the NFL Combine.

— Understanding My Competitors —

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 potential ideas.

Kellogg’s VR experience is't accessible for people who don't own their own VR headsets.
Vitaminwater's human car wash pop-up event is fun, but too messy for a campus event.
Red Bull's mobile game Red Bull Augmented Racing dealt with a lot of troubleshooting.

— Making Sense of Research Findings —

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 and sent out a Google Forms survey 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:

Which drink would you prefer to consume for doing anything active?

Do you have interest in bringing more athletic-related special events to your college campus?

Do you have interest in the NFL combine?

Data was sampled from 20 current college students, not including the two interviewees

— Ideating My Solutions —

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 - experience competing in real NFL Combine drills

Inspiration for what a Mock Combine station might look like outside. Photo: Pintrest

- Students can sign up to compete in various real combine drills, see their stats, share media of themselves performing etc.
- The Mock Combine would include leaderboards set up for each event station, showing how students fared against other participants.

Event Idea 02:

Immersive virtual exhibit - take you into the mind of a Combine athlete

How a student will feel when they put on their VR headsets in the exhibit. Graphics: Isabelle Snyder/BSS

- The exhibit is split into three rooms—VR headset experience, racing against a hologram, and a wall to write glow-in-the-dark notes and/or goals.
- The purpose of this exhibit is to immerse students into the mind of an NFL combine athlete and "hype" them up when they exit.

Event Idea 03:

Large tailgate centered around an NFL Combine live stream

What a photo booth would look like at the Combine tailgate. Graphic and mockup: Rikiya Klasen and Isabelle Snyder/BSS

- The most “hyped and spirited” university would win a tailgate party at their campus that includes live performances, food and the Combine's live stream.
- The tailgate would also include a photo booth and supply an ample amount of Fast Twitch drinks and Fast Twitch merch, adding emphasis on camaraderie and community.

I also designed a user map and app prototypes, as well as leaderboard prototypes, for the Mock NFL Combine (Event Idea 01).

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

  • Users can easily choose from one event to another when viewing stats or when selecting events to compete in.
  • Because there's a lot of back-and-forth action, I wanted to make sure users will have no problem navigating the eventual app.

Lo-fi Sketches - Mock Combine event app & leaderboards

  • I prioritized reducing the number of clicks and scrolling possible, for a user navigating the event app.
  • Made sure users can have an easy time navigating back and forth between in-school and nation wide stats.
  • The leaderboard screens prioritize no distracting movements and good readability, while conserving space.

High fidelity prototype - Mock Combine event app (1st iteration)

  • Incorporating the official Fast Twitch style guide to present a modern, sleek and energetic feel while still accounting for visual accommodations (tested with the WCAG Colors Contrast Checker).
  • Neon green and lighter colored text over dark backgrounds felt more appropriate for the Fast Twitch brand, compared to the other way around.
  • Home and back buttons on the bottom navigation bar enable easy and non-distracting access for users.

High fidelity prototypes -  Mock Combine event leaderboards (first draft)

  • 1 leaderboard screen per event, 2 slides per screen—school wide and nation wide.
  • Top three place-getters school wide are bigger and highlighted in different colors to promote in-school competition
  • Nation wide leaderboard only shows first place getters per school for an event, to promote a desire for participants to reach first place in an event

— Feedback and Roadblocks —

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.

— Deciding the Final Product and 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.

Hi-fi map of the Fast Twitch Fuel Bus event app - an example of where the bus and other stations surrounding the bus would be placed.
Fast Twitch Fuel Bus promo posters. Graphic: Isabelle Snyder/Big Spaceship

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

School-wide leaderboard for the 40 yard dash event, with top three fastest participants highlighted in green.
Nation wide leaderboard showcasing first place participants for each school that participated in the 40 yard dash, in order from fastest to least fast.
  • Instead of the gold-silver-bronze color scheme or the neon green text, I decided to highlight the top three school-wide place getters in a neon green background to be less distracting but still entices participants to try to get top three.
  • The first place getters for nation-wide leaderboard is shaped in an upside down trapezoid, as it enables more negative space in the background and so viewers can see each name and result in bigger text.
  • Leaderboards are preferred to be presented on large screens—similar to the above mockups—but are also suited for flat screen monitors/TVs if under budgeting constraints.

Media kiosk for the Fuel Bus

The giant kiosk that would be implemented in the Fast Twitch Fuel Bus.

Because the app didn't go through, I prototyped a giant kiosk instead where:

  • Participants can receive photos and videos of themselves performing in the Fuel Bus events
  • Media can be emailed, texted or airdropped by scanning a QR code presented on the kiosk screen to manage their Fuel Bus media directly from their phone.
  • Scanning from the kiosk would enable students to get media instantly after performing at an event.

— Reflection + Next Steps —

A whole lot of personal growth

Overall, I thought the project went really well:

  • The collaborative effort was flawless
  • I became tremendously better at Figma
  • I implemented hard skills for a real life client
  • I generated a lot of input and ideas with experiential marketing
  • I did a great job of compensating and adjusting my approach regarding UX activations

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 in the future.