31 Flavors of Football: Billboards

To help you and me get through the drudgery of August, I will present in this space a daily scoop of MSU football-ness, as inspired by a certain ice cream chain. August has 31 days, so I’ll let you work it out from there. Here is today’s flavor.


Mississippi State has made a concerted effort to promote its brand via marketing, and the most prominent purveyor of the MSU brand has been billboards. Which is kind of odd, considering how old-school billboard advertising is in the Internet age. And State has certainly made its presence known online; for example, the Twitter hashtag (#HAILSTATE) in the north end zone for last year’s Egg Bowl.

But the billboards have caused the most stir, mainly because of their declarations of in-state ownership. “Welcome to Our State” billboards greet travelers at various points along the Mississippi borders, implying that MSU has the premier athletic program in the state.

Understandably, Ole Miss fans have taken exception to this. They also took exception to the billboards that urged high school prospects to “Play with the Best,” one of which went up in Oxford (gasp!) in January. As it turned out, that series of billboards violated NCAA rules.

Still, give MSU credit for bracketing the state with its message, and so far it’s been backed up with three consecutive Egg Bowl wins over Ole Miss. State’s athletic department is spending $150,000 on billboards this year. The Rebels have put up some billboards of their own, and the so-called “billboard wars” have added a splash of flavor to an already intense rivalry. Hail marketing departments!