Here’s a novel idea: tailgaters and college football attendees are a captive audience so why not open their eyes to another sport or two as long as they’re in town?
That was the idea the South Carolina Boating and Fishing Alliance (SCBFA) had when it showcased its offerings to those attending the September 25 SEC battle between the USC Gamecocks and the Kentucky Wildcats. The payoff? 20,000 visitors.
The SCBFA partnered with Gamecock Athletics to host the first-of-its-kind event combining three of South Carolina’s favorite pastimes – the two previous industries, and of course, college football. The event was hosted outside Williams-Brice Stadium, where the game took place.
The boating and fishing industries provide the state with 23,000 jobs and a $5.1 billion economic impact. The industries comprise 3.1% of the state’s gross domestic product.
And all those eyeballs – well, that’s a pretty impressive ROI for an organization that is less than a year old, and an event that has been less than six months in the making.
“The South Carolina Boating and Fishing Alliance launched in February,” said R. Gettys Brannon III, its CEO. “We started conversations for the Boat, Fish, Football event in April.”
Brannon sees the event continuing, and even being enlarged upon.
“We are always looking for creative ways to expand the reach and awareness of the industry as a whole; a fishing tournament during the same weekend would certainly accomplish that goal. South Carolina certainly has the landscape to introduce more people to boating and fishing through football.”
University officials were mightily impressed by the event as well.
“The [event] at Williams-Brice was one of the most successful Gamecock Village marketing activations we have participated in. It added another level of excitement for the fans,” said Eric Nichols, University of South Carolina Senior Associate Athletic Director and Chief Marketing Officer.
“We were thrilled to make a bit of history with the first-ever boating and fishing event at Williams-Brice,” said Chris Butler, president of Butler Marine and board chairman of SCBFA. “Thousands of football fans were able to see iconic brands of boats and fishing tackle, and most were unaware that they are made right here in South Carolina. Raising awareness of our industry and showcasing our products will continue to be a major focus of SCBFA.”
Not only was Saturday game day for college football fans across the country, but it was also National Hunting and Fishing Day, as recognized by Gov. Henry McMaster and promoted through the Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus by the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation.
“National Hunting and Fishing Day recognizes the significant economic and conservation funding contributions of hunters and anglers. Hats off to the SCBFA for hosting their showcase on this important day for South Carolinians,” said John Culclasure, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation Southeastern States Assistant Director.
The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation reports that South Carolina is home to 847,000 hunters and anglers, which provide a combined 40,000 jobs.
Nationwide, 53.4 million sportsmen and women contribute $119 billion to the U.S. GDP and support more than 1.6 million jobs.
“Millions of Americans use South Carolina-made products in the outdoors every day,” said Brannon. “To showcase a portion of our 30-plus boating and fishing manufacturers in South Carolina on an SEC football Saturday is something we look forward to repeating.”
Plans are in the works for next year, although no date has been set – and most likely, will be announced following the release of the 2022 college football schedule in South Carolina.
Meanwhile, the outdoors industry as a whole has grown exponentially since 2020.
“The boating and fishing industry has seen an incredible boost in participation from people wanting to spend time outside during COVID,” said Brannon. “This cross promotional opportunity was an example of what the industry can do to retain these new consumers and continue to recruit more boaters and anglers.”
SCBFA Participants included: Abu Garcia, Avenger Boats, Bentley Pontoons, Berkley Fishing, Berkeley Outdoors, Falcon Bass Boats, Local Boy Outfitters, Mid-Carolina Marine, Palmetto State Armory — Fishing Outpost, PENN Fishing, Pioneer Boats, Quantum Paints, Safer Boater, Sea Hunt Boats, Sea Pro Boats, Sportsmans Boats, Tidewater Boats, Ugly Stik, What the Fin Apparel, and Yamaha Rightwaters™.