UK unleashes mail storm to bring fans back to Commonwealth

jsmith3@herald-leader.comJuly 24, 2013 

If the U.S. Postal Service manages to finish the year in the black, it might have some Kentucky blue to thank.

The UK Athletics marketing department, taking a recruiting lesson from the new football staff, decided to send dozens of letters to individual fans asking them to buy season tickets.

UK's football staff, led by Coach Mark Stoops, once famously sent 115 hand-written recruiting letters in one day to quarterback Drew Barker.

The marketing department took that idea and wrote with it.

"We took the approach that we are recruiting people to be season ticket holders," Nathan Schwake of UK's marketing department said. "We got 10,000 cards and we had assembly parties and people from all over the athletic department came in and we got five signatures on each card."

That's 50,000 signatures that ranged from athletics high rollers like basketball coach John Calipari and Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart all the way to "Kathy in the business office," Schwake said of Kathy Fletcher, an accountant.

There were more than a handful of different messages that went out to a select list of about 5,000 fans, mostly young alumni and previous season ticket holders who didn't renew dating to 2009.

Some will get 10 letters, some will get 20 letters and a select few will get 50 or more letters.

One card says: "We know you've got what it takes. Be early. Wear blue. Get loud."

Another adds: "Coach Stoops is recruiting the best players. We're recruiting the best fans. We want you on board for 2013 and beyond." And a third says: "How good will it feel to wear the Blue and White in Commonwealth Stadium this fall? REALLY GOOD!"

When asked about the added expense of mailing dozens of letters to individuals, Schwake said the marketing staff isn't spending any more money this season than it did last season.

In fact, his department didn't ask for an increase in that budget at all.

"We're trying to focus on things that are going to make an impact, that are worth more than the actual value of the project," Schwake said, mentioning the local TV ad during the Super Bowl as another example. "Hopefully some additional buzz that's created will be worth the cost."

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog:

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