If you’re a sports fan and you’ve perused the magazine rack at your local bookstore, you’ll notice most of the pre-season rags will have an athlete from your favorite team on the cover. “Cool,” you think, “everyone will see the great Troy Smith on the cover of Althon Sports pre-season magazine.” Well, not everyone. Some will see Troy and Brady Quinn. Others will see Brady and USC’s Dwayne Jarrett. It’s a simple and ultra-effective marketing technique — sell the fans what they want. I know I am immediately drawn to the covers adorned with the scarlet and gray. I might not always buy one, but I’ll at least pick it up and thumb through it.
Fans of EA Sports have been using photoshop for a long time to do the same thing. Every year, while speculating of who will be on the cover of the next NCAA or Madden, fans help out EA and design the cover with who they think deserves to be the next cover. Fanblogs.com has collected a ton of NCAA 2007 covers and posted them on Flickr.
It got me thinking about the marketing that sport magazines use and how EA does it. While it is an honor (and a curse) to be on the cover of an EA sports title, I wonder how many more they would sell if they “customized” the covers for different regions. It would be tricky for a couple reasons: you can’t have a current NCAA player on the cover (nixing my Ted Ginn Jr. dream) and there are only 32 teams in the NFL. Nevertheless, I still think it would work. Sure, this year Reggie Bush was honored with the cover (and rightfully so) but if I was a Texas fan, I’d much rather buy a copy of NCAA 2007 with Vince Young gracing the cover, not the chump your team beat in the Rose Bowl.
Me? I’d personally like to see A.J. Hawk on the cover of my copy.