“Pony Up” Needed to Hold Its Horses

This morning I stumbled upon SMU football’s new campaign. My simple question about a silly arrow led to much email, the majority of it agreeing with me that the Pony Up is confusing at best. And it’s not one of those ad campaigns that fosters enjoyable confusion. In fact, as the anonymity-requesting SMU-affiliated FrontBurnervian writes after the jump, the Pony Up campaign is bad, bad, bad.

Here’s what s/he had to say:

I’m a member of the SMU community and am embarrassed by the Pony Up campaign. I don’t even want to think about what they paid the Richards Group for that campaign — which is sticking an arrow pointing up next to the Mustang logo. I could have come up with that for a lot less than what they paid the Richards Group, I’m sure.

So, to recap on this campaign:

1. SMU has the perception of being elitist. Campaign message: “We don’t tailgate, we Boulevard.” Grade: FAIL

2. SMU is still overcoming the whole “pay to play” thing from 80s. Campaign message: “Pony up.” The phrase “pony up” is usually used in terms of money. Grade: FAIL

3. SMU has the perception of having crappy football. Campaign message: “Those days of being a darkhorse are over.” I beg to differ — if anything, this is the first year they’re a darkhorse, since they have some potential this year. I don’t think having six wins in one season is going to earn you the title of being something other than a darkhorse. Grade: FAIL

S/he isn’t alone:

I agree. There’s a small banner hanging over the intersection of Northwest Highway and Boedeker, of all places. The “Pony Up” arrow makes it look like they’re selling Mustang tickets at NorthPark or something.

And this:

There are also banners hanging all over downtown with the same pony and arrow design. I was also thoroughly confused, although it did seem to be pointing to the entrance to the Tollway, which could get you to the stadium. The thing that really bugs me about this campaign, though is the design of the arrow. Have you noticed how oddly drawn it is? What’s wrong with straight lines? Am I missing something? To me, it says “Pony Weird Arrow-like shape.”

I noticed in the previously linked to story about the campaign that Richard Sweet, the athletic department’s director of marketing responsible for Pony Up, returned to his job at Southwest Airlines “just as the rollout began.” Smart move, Sweet.

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