Willingham focus of UW's marketing push

April 12, 2005

SEATTLE - Washington head football coach, Tyrone Willingham will give his acting skills a try as a part of a new marketing campaign by the University of Washington to help promote the sale of football season tickets.

'When you have such a visible, newly anticipated leader, to give him that visibility helps our program,' said UW Athletic Director Todd Turner. 'It's about selling tickets, but it's also about our image and our vision, our future and our personality.'

The campaign will also showcase UW's head basketball coach, Lorenzo Romar.

'Lorenzo has vaulted to a very visible, important person for our state, our community and the University of Washington,' Turner said. 'He has a great sense of humor and loves the place. Why not use this opportunity to take advantage of that?'

The ad campaign begins Tuesday with a Top-10 list about why to purchase season tickets by Willingham and an additional reason by Romar that will be mailed to season ticket holders and potential buyers. The campaign will also feature three TV spots, radio commercials and billboards on the side of transit buses with Willingham's high school yearbook picture on them.

'Return of the Dawgs' - a line that was pulled from the press conference that named Willingham UW's coach - is the slogan of the advertising push.

'Our management team felt like we needed to do something,' explained Turner. 'We talked about this before we even hired a coach. We needed to have a plan in place to introduce the new era of Washington football. That started at the press conference. And it started with how we publicized that and some things that we have had Tyrone do. He's been great.'

Willingham and Romar addressed the media between takes of their TV shoot. Each coach was quick to compliment the other about his on-screen presence.

'We brought in the talent, the creative genius behind this production,' Willingham said about Romar. 'Without him, this commercial would be zilch, zero, nada, nothing.'

'He has exceptional acting skills,' said Romar in defense of Willingham's acting prowess. 'I've witnessed him myself for the last hour and a half. Just call him Denzel Willingham.

'He had a fantastic line that caught everybody by surprise. He's destined for stardom.'

Turner is impressed with the acting of both coaches and anticipates that the campaign will bring positive feedback from fans.

'This whole campaign is going to put a new face on what Washington football is all about and Tyrone is at the core of that,' said Turner. 'I think [the commercials] are clever and they portray Tyrone in a little bit different light than most people would think.'

Through Tuesday, 44,000 season tickets had been sold, 4,000 fewer than last year at this time, according to UW's Marketing and Promotions Director, Leslie Wurzberger. Last year's total was 51,200 season tickets sold.

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