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On June 17, 10 University of Michigan students and recent graduates experienced a day of Fox Sports coverage at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Los Angeles. The students, who have all since graduated, were among the winners of the Fox Sports University challenge, a competition in which students construct and propose brand campaign ideas to Fox Sports executives.
At the World Cup, the group met Fox Sports’ social media team and watched their coverage during live matches. They also toured of two Fox studios in Playa Vista and Los Angeles, in addition to witnessing a live broadcasting of Fox Soccer Tonight. University alum Sierre Wolfkostin, a member of a winning team, said she enjoyed the tour, as Fox does not accommodate tour groups often.
“We got to visit over 10 different teams that work there,” Wolfkostin said. “Not only their digital content production team that were actively sending out tweets and posts live and real-time in response to the Women’s World Cup game, but also we got to see their whole TV production studio and those teams.”
University alum Preston Rabban, another winning student, said his favorite experience was witnessing the action in the studio he often sees on his own TV screen.
“At the end when they were doing the live show, watching the live show right in front of you and being broadcast on the TV right next to you within seconds, I thought that was the coolest part,” Rabban said.
Wolfkostin said she enjoyed seeing every team at Fox work together to create the broadcast.
“At the end when you got to see them doing a live sports broadcast, you realized how all of the parts added up together to create one finished product,” Wolfkostin said. “Every little piece came in to create this production. You realize that it’s a lot more complicated than you initially think.”
During the Fall 2018 semester, Fox Sports University partnered with University professor Marcus Collins’ Social Media Marketing class. Students worked in groups to create original advertising campaigns for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup and MLB Jewel events such as the All-Star Game and World Series. Each group was assigned a specific brand such as Taco Bell, Coca-Cola and Verizon to market to one of the two audiences.
The 13 groups ultimately proposed their campaigns to a panel of Fox Sports executives, including David Miller, senior vice president of ad sales, and Emilee Cavis, senior director of sales and marketing. The panel selected two winning teams, who were given the opportunity to be flown to Los Angeles for the World Cup.
Each team went through a dual evaluation through the Fox Sports team and Collins. Micaela Asercion, Fox Sports strategic partnerships associate manager, explained the decisions on the winning teams were based off of their presentation as well as their creativity and uniqueness.
“This is definitely a high performing class,” Asercion said. “Everyone’s ideas were really impressive, and deciding on a winning team was definitely hard, which is why we had two winning teams.”
Having two different teams evaluate proposals simulates many real-world situations, Collins said.
“It’s been a really good experience, particularly because students get the chance to work on a real project where it’s not just for academic objectives, but there’s also a real component to this — an outside evaluation beyond the walls of Ross,” Collins said.
Collins previously worked with Fox Sports University during the Fall 2016 and Fall 2017 semesters and said he plans to work with them again in future classes. He said some of his students who have participated in the program have attained connections with Fox Sports that led them to future careers.
“What I get really excited about is seeing not only students getting to engage with Fox Sports at that level, but also get jobs,” Collins said. “I think these hands-on experiences through the Fox Sports partnership really enriches their class experience.”
Collins said the opportunity emphasizes action-based learning, one of the core values of the Business School. This is also a common goal of Fox Sports University, which hopes to activate on ideas the students propose in the classroom, Asercion said.
Rabban said Collins’ class was his favorite during his time at the University. He and Wolfkostin both encouraged students to enroll in Collins’ class and participate in Fox Sports University.
“Marcus’s class was literally the best class I had at Michigan,” Rabban said. “He was able to interact with everyone, every student, every class, and it seemed like he knew the material better than anyone could ever know it. He was able to talk to us and connect with us in a way that resonated with us and let us enjoy the three hours we were in there.”
Editor’s note: The author of the article is not related to Professor Marcus Collins, who is quoted in the article.