Raising ‘Canes Beyond Gridiron Is Marc/USA’s Job

The University of Miami Hurricanes may not whip the Florida Gators in the Sugar Bowl or knock the Florida State Seminoles out of the national championship, but the team is winning the state’s collegiate ad wars: the perennial football power has hired Marc/USA in Miami to brand and market its sports program.

The shop, a unit of Pittsburgh’s Marc/USA, has moved beyond promotions involving the Hurricanes’ mascot, “Sebastian the Ibis.” Instead, it is attempting to leverage the school’s successful football program to build attendance, sponsorship and retail merchandise sales for the athletic department’s second sisters: baseball and basketball.

“They have a very strong following that we can use to attract business as well as sponsorship,” said Lee Brody, the agency’s director of communications. “Our charge is to take the brand created by the football franchise and extend it.”

According to copywriter Tina Levy, a print campaign begun last summer has developed “Bring it home,” “Run with us” and “The attack is back” as taglines for the school’s baseball, basketball and football advertising.

The University of Miami’s women’s basketball team has been branded as “Guts, grits and glory.”

Agency president Evan Contorakes won the account after a review that included a number of local agencies.

Izard & Leone in Miami held the account at the time it was purchased by Marc/USA.

According to Brody, the business involves challenges familiar to college sports powerhouses that must, by federal statute, fund and support a broad array of athletic programs.

“If you’ve got a good team, you promote the team, individual players or successes,” Brody said. “If you don’t, you’ve got to talk about the experience.

Basketball in the football-crazed Southeast might be pitched “as a fun way to spend a Wednesday night.”