Gaining Yards and Gaining Profit: Setting Records with OSU Football

Posted by Krystian Jurkowski on 2/4/16 8:34 AM

Everyone knows that football is 80 percent mental and 40 percent physical, right? Well, at least it is according to College Football Hall of Famer Steve Emtman (as quoted in the 1994 film “Little Giants”). At least turning a profit makes a little more sense in the business world of football. The big scoop: ticket sales mean fans and fans mean money. At Oklahoma State University, the goal wasn’t just a 10-0 season—it was kickin’ up dirt and making that pass…in ticket sales, of course.

Associate Athletic Director of OSU Chris Bahl asked himself a question: why not? As in, why not set the largest record of ticket sales OSU has ever seen? Once the youngest associate athletic director at OSU, Bahl had passion, not just for the financial side of things, but for the love of the game.

“I love what college athletics means, and what it does to young people’s lives,” Bahl said. “It helps develop leaders.”

Bahl has been at the heart of OSU football for over 20 years and this year he had high hopes for the season and for prospective ticket sales.

“We were selling, but in order to set any records, we had to reach new consumers,” assured Bahl.

With their budget, they couldn’t push mass media, so they had to be concentrated and have a specific direct push. Bahl wanted someone who understood his markets and what he wanted to accomplish—and that’s where FreeForm entered the game.

“To be honest, it took about 10 minutes taking to Bryan and it was a done deal,” said Bahl. “The stuff I wanted to accomplish, Bryan said no problem, and started rattling off ideas and everything I had in mind.”

 FreeForm offered digital strategy that was cost effective and would generate qualified results. Bahl made a business decision that was not only his best bet, but his best investment yet.

Gaining yards in sales was easy once Bahl met Bryan.

“It’s like when you’re walking around speaking Chinese and nobody else speaks it and all of a sudden another person does—you’ve got a friend,” said Bahl.

Their end lines were simple: specific sales goals, a date to meet ‘em by, and target people to reach. Well, before the first game even kicked off, OSU reached many of their records and scored big.

“The marketing campaigns done with FreeForm definitely worked,” said Bahl.

FreeForm knew what had to be done: big time social media digital marketing. Messages directed to landing pages with different ads for incentives such as stadium tours and lunches with the OSU coach.

“We hit social media hard, trying to get people to raise their hand,” said Bahl.

The work continued through direct E-mail campaigns to any and all lists, as well as putting feelers out to wherever was necessary, including local papers. A sound digital advertising strategy was added and OSU was on a roll. The results were tracked and the marketing kept OSU out in front of the competition.

“Up to that date, OSU had never had a prospect strategy and FreeForm helped us accomplish it,” said Bahl. “We had record sales we’d never seen before.”

The campaign wasn’t just a success for OSU, but for FreeForm as well.

“The marketplace has changed so much with secondary ticket providers (StubHub), but FreeForm put up a bigger fight,” said Bahl.

When asked about his experiences working with FreeForm, Bahl commented, “good people to work with and a lot of fun to work with too.”

As for Bahl’s thoughts on FreeForm’s CEO Bryan, he had one thing on his mind: “he’s a character, that’s for sure. One of a kind and the real deal.”


Most marketing companies are stuck on the ideas of yesterday. We at FreeForm focus on the ideas of tomorrow—to revolutionize today and go head-to-head with innovation at its finest. Our approach: design thinking. Think. Feel. Do. Through desirability, feasibility, and viability, we redesign the idea of innovation and, through it, rediscover the world through a new lens.