A few weeks ago you may have seen one of the greatest marketing activations in recent memory at Purdue University.
The canned food drive during the holiday season is a staple in college athletics. Everyone does it, and it’s awesome for the community.
But the amazing crew at Purdue took the charitable campaign to unprecedented heights, developing an entire “Elf” campaign around star men’s basketball player Caleb Furst.
The result was a marketing masterpiece.
The best part? The Purdue NIL Store got to play a part in the ride.
Caleb The Elf Catches Fire
In the days leading up to its game against Hofstra when it would hold the canned food drive, Purdue did an incredible job executing in all area of collateral.
Steph Franke from Purdue marketing breaks it down here:
The Purdue video team did an amazing job spoofing some of the best scenes from “Elf” and putting a local twist on them.
The obvious kicker was featuring Caleb Furst in the lead role. Anytime you can involve a student-athlete in a marketing project, it becomes that much better.
The coolest part is Caleb probably vaulted himself upward as one of the most recognizable and well-liked personalities on the team. A player can’t pay for that sort of brand boost.
How the Purdue NIL Store got involved
We’ll be honest with you, it all happened very quickly.
The night before the game we were in contact with Purdue about potentially collaborating on an NIL merchandising item featuring Caleb Furst in his Elf costume.
Understanding that sports are about capitalizing on moments, this was a no-brainer for us.
Our creative team got to work immediately and had a design whipped up before the night came to a close.
By game day, the design was approved by Purdue and we were ready to go!
A few hours before the game, Purdue basketball tweeted out the link to Caleb’s limited drop (see below) and we supported it with our own assets, as well.
At the game, the first 1,000 students received Elf hats and even Purdue Pete had an Elf costume on!
To nobody’s surprise, Caleb’s shirt sales skyrocketed the night of the game as fans went all in on the holiday spirit.
It’s what happens when you have total buy-in and collaboration from a school like Purdue. They deserve full credit for recognizing a potential NIL opportunity for one of their student-athletes and capitalizing on it (amidst all of their other amazing marketing initiatives).
The real winner of the night?
The folks who will benefit from the canned food drive.
Purdue collected more than 14,000 POUNDS of non-perishable canned goods.
Take a bow, Purdue. That is incredibly special. Job well done.