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Hail Mary Marketing Strategy

9 Sep, 2015 McKell Naegle

College football season has officially begun. If you decided to sleep away your Labor Day weekend, then you missed an amazing start to the season. From the dominance of Ohio State to the jaw-dropping performance of UCLA freshman quarterback Josh Rosen, the weekend was full of highlight after highlight. However, one of the weekend’s most exciting plays was from BYU freshman quarterback Tanner Mangum.

BYU football looked poised for a big year. They were bringing back Heisman contender Taysom Hill from injury, who looked ready for a huge season with several outstanding wide receiver targets to pick from. However, Hill was lost to injury in the third quarter. (The even more tragic news came after the game as it was announced he was lost for the season with a Lisfranc injury)


Enter freshman quarterback Tanner Mangum. Just a few months removed from an LDS mission in Chile, he was thrust into the spotlight against Nebraska, a team holding a season-opener winning streak of 29 games. He performed well, but found his team trailing with just seconds remaining. He threw up a prayer from mid-field as the clock ticked down to zero, improbably connecting with wide receiver Mitch Matthews at the goal line for a 42-yard touchdown pass amid a sea of Nebraska defenders. His Hail Mary pass won the game for BYU.



As improbable and unreliable as a Hail Mary pass may be, it is often the last and only resort for a team. Just as BYU showed the nation, they can be successful. Sometimes marketers are forced to use techniques like these to save a campaign last minute or capitalize on a sudden change. What are some ways to use this technique off the football field as part of a content marketing strategy?


  1. Pay attention to your target market, be flexible and listen. If there is a sudden shift or change in the marketing landscape, you must be willing to adapt and capitalize on that immediately.
  2. Be creative. Draw up something new from your marketing playbook. You’ll never know what works best if you aren’t willing to try something new. The best creative agencies are always trying new ideas.
  3. Plan for the unexpected. Proper planning and preparation is key for any good marketing campaign. However, you must know what to do when things don’t go as planned. Have that Hail Mary play available in your back pocket if necessary.
  4. Go with your gut. In the moment, you often have to go with what feels right. Intuition is a valuable skill to use in marketing. Don’t use it at the cost of all reasoning and research, but don’t abandon it either.


In most instances, the best techniques use proper research, planning and preparation. However, just as BYU was prepared for that last second play, a good marketer is ready for any situation, especially the unexpected. If you nail your strategy just right, you might just get your customers to react like these BYU fans after the game-winning touchdown.

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