NCAA The Talking Bench

You’ve got what it takes to be a baller, kid. Well, except for the grades…

There are a few barriers to entry when it comes to college sports. One: talent. Two: ambition. Three: high school GPA.

Yep, grades. To generate awareness about upcoming changes to its academic eligibility standards, the NCAA launched a clever and informative campaign that spread the word among high school student-athletes and drove them to the NCAA’s initial eligibility microsite,

The campaign featured The Bench, a fictional wisecracking, trash-talking character whose goal was to keep students from getting benched in college. Using humor to soften his message, The Bench encouraged students to work harder, both on and off the field.

The Renegade team donned its jerseys and sneakers, and with ad agency Leo Burnett set to work on a winning idea that could reach high school athletes about these new requirements where they’d listen: on Twitter.

Thanks to a uniquely entertaining point of view on sports and academics, a relentlessly applied social media presence, integration across other media and strategic live appearances, @TalkingBench succeeded in getting its message out, while growing its follower base from zero to 25,000 in only three months, and increasing the number of visits to by a whopping 680%.

The campaign earned Renegade a Shorty Award for the trophy case, but it was truly a historic win for all involved.