By Tommy Horton
Normally, you wouldn’t find a special report on a college football game in this space, but occasionally there’s an exception to every rule. This is one of those times. For several years, Texas Tech University has participated in an early season “Celebrate Cotton” promotion for one of its home football games at Jones AT&T Stadium.
Call it the perfect marriage between the cotton industry, the High Plains of Texas and college football. Before, during and after the game, you’ll find messages about cotton no matter where you are seated in the stadium. Cotton equipment and booths will be located everywhere and even in special areas where fans enjoy tailgating parties. Cotton officials will be introduced during pre-game ceremonies. Promotional messages about cotton will flash on the scoreboard. In other words, it will be hard to avoid seeing or hearing an important message about cotton for about three hours.
Several years ago, when this idea was first discussed, it seemed like a perfect way to promote cotton’s importance in the High Plains. And it still is. Even though the cotton crop in this part of Texas won’t be harvested until late October or early November, this is one Saturday afternoon in September when farmers will gladly make the trek to Lubbock for a football game. What could be better than non-stop cotton promotion in front of more than 50,000 fans.
In addition, Fox Sports will likely televise the game to a large part of the country.
We have to give a lot of credit to Plains Cotton Growers for helping convince Texas Tech of the benefit in such a promotion. Once, the first game was deemed a success just a few years ago, the event has only become bigger and better every September. Now, several corporate partners help make it even more successful. Included in that list are: AgTexas Farm Credit Services, Agri-Tech, Bayer CropScience, City Bank, Crop Production Services, Deltapine, Warren CAT, Hurst Farm Supply and Wylie Implement and Spray Centers.
Cotton Incorporated has also been a strong supporter of this promotion because of the amount of local and national media exposure generated for cotton.
The variety of promotional items circulated at the game is impressive. Special gameday T-shirts wll be distributed, and cotton bales will line each entrance into the stadium. You’ll also see signage that explains what can be made from a bale of cotton and how it has an impact on the local and national economy.
The promotional activities have expanded at such a fast rate that related events will be conducted for the entire week leading up to the game on Sept. 12. A runway fashion show will take place on Thursday, Sept. 10, at the South Plains Mall. The Texas Tech Retailing Association will assist and coordinate the show. The Texas Cotton Association (TCA) will have its Flow Meeting on Sept. 10-11 at the Overton Hotel. TCA and the Texas Independent Ginners Association will host a golf tournament on Thursday at the Rawls golf course near the Texas Tech campus.
As if the schedule isn’t busy enough for Celebrate Cotton week, you’ll also have the West Texas Agricultural Chemical Institute annual conference on Sept. 9 and the Texas Ag Industries Association regional meeting on Sept. 10.
Coordinating a promotion at a pro or college football game can be a challenging exercise. Between my newspaper sports writing career (1969-1983) and my entry into the cotton industry in 1985, I spent two years as the public relations director for a pro football team in Memphis in the old United States Football League. In an effort to attract fans to our games, we came up with all kinds of wild promotions to attract fans. Some worked. Some didn’t.
However, the beauty of the Celebrate Cotton game is that every spectator in Jones Stadium already has an appreciation for what cotton does for the area surrounding Lubbock. These fans love cotton and appreciate its importance to the regional, state and national economy.
For that reason, expect a fun time. And if Texas Tech wins the football game, the celebration will be even bigger.
Buy your tickets now and don’t forget to wear cotton!