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Fans of all stripes audition for WSU marketing campaign

Sun., June 24, 2012

Washington State University alumnus John Gates’ granddaughter, still a toddler, already has Cougar pride.

“Whenever they play the fight songs at the games, she has to wave the flags,” Gates said of the girl.

So when he heard that the school’s athletic department was holding a casting call for a new marketing campaign at the Masonic Temple in downtown Spokane on Saturday, he knew little Adleigh had to be there.

About 40 people filtered in from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for a chance to be featured in a video, get their face on a poster or find their way into some other sort of marketing material for the “Wave the Flag” campaign. The project features photos and videos of fans proving that they bleed crimson by waving the Cougar flag.

Since the campaign launched last year, WSU athletics has received more than 500 photos of fans waving the flag all over the world, said Mike Marlow, the associate athletic director. Many of the photos include Cougar fans posing before iconic backgrounds, like the Great Wall of China and the Roman Colosseum. WSU Athletics hired film producer Marc Dahlstrom to tape the candidates in front of a green screen stating why they have Cougar pride.

“We’re looking for unique stories of why somebody waves the flag,” Dahlstrom said. “Anything that’s longer that’s fine, and then we try to pare it down to just a succinct statement or two of why they want to wave the flag.”

The responses were spot on, he said.

“It’s true to their heart, and that’s really what you’re looking for: authenticity and realism,” Dahlstrom said. “I like the little girl who said, ‘I wave the flag because we beat the Huskies.’ ”

The plan was to pick at least six of the 40 candidates for an upcoming WSU sports advertisement, but the auditions provided ample material for those who don’t make the cut to end up in other Cougar marketing projects, Dahlstrom said.

A broad range of candidates showed up, from current students and former athletes to lifelong fans like Gates.

“My dad started taking me to games when I was 8 years old,” Gates said. “I’ve been going to games ever since.”

Erika Addington, a teacher who received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from WSU, said being a Cougar “represents pride and loyalty.”

“And,” she added, “being arguably the best fans in the nation.”

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