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Crusaders on side for match-ups on marketing, research and student success

05 June 2020

Growing ties between the Crusaders and the UC College of Business and Law are bringing invaluable real-world experiences for marketing and sports management students, as well as collaborative research ventures and conference opportunities.


Dr Chris Chen (pictured centre, holding cup) and the visiting group of academics from the 2019 Sport Management Association of Australia and New Zealand (SMAANZ) Conference.


New research that will explore how the COVID-19 situation has impacted on Crusaders’ fans is being led by Dr Chris Chen, UC Senior Lecturer in Marketing. Over recent months, links between the Crusaders and the UC College of Business and Law have deepened with this latest project set to further strengthen bonds between the club and UC Marketing academics and students.

Crusaders’ club members, who have recently been starved of opportunities to attend live games, will be the focus of the planned new research to gather and analyse data on changes in participation and behaviour.

“It is still at quite an early stage, but we hope to involve one of our interns with the Crusaders in this important research,” says Dr Chen, who will be coordinating the project as lead investigator.

The collaborative research follows support from the Crusaders for the 2019 Sport Management Association of Australia and New Zealand (SMAANZ) Conference. Hosted by UC, the conference attracted more than 100 international delegates along with 50 sporting industry participants from all over New Zealand. Many of the international guests took part in a field trip ahead of the conference to the Crusaders’ headquarters, while Crusaders’ Head of Marketing and Communications Doug McSweeney gave one of the keynote speeches.

“With the help of the Crusaders, we achieved a really huge impact at the conference that also provided us with a great platform for showcasing our campus and academic achievements,” says Dr Chen.

The positive connections between the Crusaders and UC Marketing academics and students are long standing.

For the past four years, groups of UC students studying advertising and promotion management (MKTG307) have been tasked with solving particular communication or promotional challenges directly set by the Crusaders. Just like real advertising agencies, the students have had to come up with their own creative and targeted strategies before presenting final pitches to the Crusaders.

“It is very rewarding to know that through our partnership, UC students have the opportunity to learn about our club, and its brand, and how we connect with our fans and community.  I have been blown away each year with the quality of work produced by the students who participate in the 307 course,” says Doug McSweeney Head of Crusaders Marketing and Communications

“The amount of time and commitment that the Crusaders put into this is pretty amazing,” says Associate Professor Lucie Ozanne, who heads UC’s Department of Management, Marketing and Entrepreneurship.

“The students love working with a real company and on a practical plan that they can then potentially present to future employers to show what they can do. It has been very successful,” she says.

Some of the students’ work has directly influenced the Crusaders own promotional strategies.

“One group was even hired over a summer to implement the plan they had developed.”

While COVID-19 brought a temporary halt to group work this year, third-year UC students studying a new paper in Event Management and Marketing (MKTG340) enjoyed guest lectures from two key Crusaders’ staff, earlier in Semester 1. Doug McSweeney spoke to the students about how the Crusaders evolved their brand in 2019, while Events and Commercial Partnerships Manager Grace Jones gave insights into how different games and media events are managed.

“The students had a half-hour Q&A with each guest speaker and they were really engaged,” says Dr Chen. “In future, we also plan to visit the Crusaders with students.”

“Our partnership with the UC College of Business and Law is growing every year, and through the openness of Chris and Lucie to collaborate we are uncovering some amazing outcomes,” adds McSweeney.

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