Will 'Makers Wanted' in Bahamas Bowl name work for Elk Grove? Marketers say yes

Marketers say yes, it's a good way to speak to businesses

"Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl" doesn't shed much light on the college football game's sponsor, what it does or where it's located.

But despite its vagueness, the name gets a thumbs-up from some sports marketing experts who say Elk Grove Village's unique sponsorship uses the slogan as the focus of what it really wants: more businesses.

"Makers Wanted" is the tagline the town uses to promote the Elk Grove Village Business Park. Some online snarkiness about "Makers Wanted" has surfaced, with one sports website's survey ranking it second behind last year's "Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl" in St. Petersburg, Florida, in the silly college football bowl game name category.

But Kevin Adler, a Chicago-based sports marketing expert, said "Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl" shouldn't be panned, because it's focused on what Elk Grove Village wants to accomplish through the sponsorship - to fill its expansive business park and other facilities. He said it's not necessary for the town to have its name attached to "Makers Wanted."

"I love it and I'll tell you why," said Adler, the founder, president and chief engagement officer of Engage Marketing. "The majority of these bowl naming-rights deals sort of stop at brand awareness."

Popeyes Louisiana Chicken looked to create greater brand awareness as the inaugural title sponsor for the Bahamas Bowl in 2014, but it ended the relationship after last year's game. Instead of wanting its name in the spotlight, Elk Grove Village is looking to hook businesses by calling attention to the "Makers Wanted" tagline, Adler said.

Florida International University will play the University of Toledo in the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl on Friday, Dec. 21. In July, Elk Grove Village's elected officials announced an agreement to pay $300,000 for the sponsorship deal with ESPN Events, which owns and operates 15 postseason bowl games.

Clint Overby, vice president of ESPN Events, said Elk Grove Village is right to use "Makers Wanted" for what is a business-to-business promotional effort. The Bahamas Bowl is part of the ESPN Events stable overseen by Overby, a sports marketing veteran who joined ESPN in 2001.

"(I) think it's a great call to action - identifiable and clearly represents what the community is targeting in terms of outcome," Overby said.

Adler said it's difficult to find sponsors for what's become a saturated market of college football bowl games. He credited Denver-based Impression Sports & Entertainment for working with Elk Grove to find a bowl sponsorship to specifically promote the mammoth business park. Occupancy in the park is 98 percent, an all-time high, according to the village. The 62 million-square-foot park is the largest in the country.

"This is the first (business-to-business) municipal destination sponsorship that I'm aware of in the business," said Adler, whose resume includes television production, public relations, advertising, sponsorship and event marketing in a roughly 20-year career.

Documents obtained from Elk Grove Village through an open-records request show the town's deal with ESPN Productions Inc. for the Bahamas Bowl includes an option to sponsor the game for the same $300,000 fee in 2019. Elk Grove has until March 1 to decide whether to sponsor next year's game, according to the contract.

Highlights of the agreement include all on-air references to the game as the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl, one in-game feature presented by Elk Grove Village on ESPN's national telecast, a full-page advertisement in the game magazine, and the event logo featured as a patch on all team uniforms, sideline apparel and the 50-yard line.

Separate "Makers Wanted Elk Grove Village, Illinois" logos will be on the 25-yard lines. In addition, Elk Grove Village will receive commercials on ESPN's TV and radio broadcasts during the game that will include the town's name.

Officials from Popeyes' parent company, Restaurant Brands International, didn't return messages seeking comment on why it ended the Bahamas Bowl sponsorship.

ESPN's Bahamas Bowl television ratings have been in decline, going from 2.1 million viewers in 2015 to 1.4 million in 2016 and 882,000 in 2017. That's still a lot of exposure for a little town with a big industrial park.

Adler said Elk Grove Village should be able to measure whether the $300,000 game sponsorship was worth it. In a typical bowl deal, he said, a business such as a restaurant chain doesn't necessarily know if sales increased from a sponsorship.

"For Elk Grove Village, I would hope it's pretty straightforward," Adler said. "This thing either led to more companies making inquiries and ultimately converting to leased space in that industrial park or it didn't."

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  Elk Grove Village officials hope the Makers Wanted Bahamas Bowl sponsorship leads to more tenants at this business park. Mark Welsh/
  "Makers Wanted," the tagline in a promotion to attract businesses to Elk Grove Village, is part of the name of this week's Bahamas Bowl college football game. This is the The Elk Grove Village Business Park area at Busse Road and Touhy Avenue, which could wind up benefiting from the bowl sponsorship. Mark Welsh/
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