On October 16th, 2021, the University of Tennessee football team failed to convert on a last-minute 4th & 24 attempt in what was a 31-26 home loss to Ole Miss. In protest, fans launched items on the field at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, one of which just happened to be a French’s yellow mustard bottle.
The moment took over the internet. Memes were made, questions were asked, and by the end of it all, Tennessee fans embraced French’s mustard as their college football rallying cry.
Fan’s love for our mustard grew. We were showing up at baseball games, on social media, and even on YouTube. French’s fandom was reaching its precipice, and we knew we had to act.
So in a college football landscape full of rules, regulations, and red tape, we decided to support Tennessee by going directly to their best player: Heisman Trophy candidate Hendon Hooker. We approached the quarterback directly, navigating the recent NIL landscape and landing a deal. As part of our partnership, we developed custom mustard drip for the QB, hand-painting and customizing Air Force 1s we deemed the Mustard 1s.
We decided to launch the partnership where Tennessee’s love for French’s started: Online. Along with an exclusive press release with Boardroom, we took to Twitter to roll out the deal, igniting the mustard conversation across the platform. As users learned about the deal and caught a glimpse of Hendon’s exclusive shoes, college football and Tennessee fans alike ate it up.
In the end, we received over 229 media placements, fueling online conversation that led to over 36 million social impressions and over 227 million earned media impressions. We found out a little mustard goes a long way, cranking out this time-sensitive project in one week.
Using an opportune social landscape and a strategic media partnership, we turned a stray mustard bottle into a moment of brand serendipity. Now, when Tennessee fans think mustard, they think French’s.
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