E-Mails Fall Short in Run for Heisman

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A rich media e-mail campaign promoting Larry Johnson for the Heisman Trophy that included embedded video clips fell short Saturday when the Penn State running back finished third in the voting for the award that signifies college football's best player.


Johnson finished third with 108 first-place votes and 726 points. University of Southern California quarterback Carson Palmer won the award with 242 first-place votes and 1,328 points, followed by Iowa quarterback Brad Banks with 199 first-place votes and 1,095 points.


The e-mail with video of Johnson in action was sent to 850 Heisman Trophy voters, including sportswriters and executives, past Heisman winners and TV and radio sports announcers. Recipients could link to a "more stats" option that took them to gopsusports.com/Football/home.cfm where they could access stories about Johnson at the Penn State athletics Web site.


A "more highlights" option led to gopsusports.com/pennstatestory/ where Penn State football highlights and features could be found.


The e-mail was sent Dec. 5, six days before ballots were due and just before the final weekend of college football. Penn State had not played in the final two weeks of the season while other candidates had games remaining the weekend of Dec. 7.


The e-mail had a 93.8 percent open rate and a 68.2 percent open rate for the video.


The campaign cost less than $20,000 and took less than three weeks to design and implement.


"It's a new way to reach people with video that is active," said Guido D'Elia, a partner at Mind Over Media, Pittsburgh, which produced the e-mail for Penn State. "There was no download. It appeared on computers immediately since the technology could deliver seven versions, and it sniffed the user's PC to determine platform, type of video card and speed of Internet connection and selected the exact version instantly that would work for the recipient. They didn't have to go through two or three steps, which is why we had the high open rate. We were e-mailing probably the most cynical, jaded group you could find."


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