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Suggestions to Bolster Buggy Popularity & Success - Buggy Alumni Association

Suggestions to Bolster Buggy Popularity & Success

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Elmo Zoneball
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Suggestions to Bolster Buggy Popularity & Success

Postby Elmo Zoneball » Mon Apr 20, 2015 5:45 pm

This thread is intended as a repository for ideas and discussion of things intended to improve the popularity of the Sweepstakes and enhance participation as well as spectator interest.

This is continuation of the discussion that started on the Buggy Preview thread.
"I love the smell of solvents in the morning -- they smell like... victory."

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Elmo Zoneball
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Re: Suggestions to Bolster Buggy Popularity & Success

Postby Elmo Zoneball » Mon Apr 20, 2015 5:47 pm

"I love the smell of solvents in the morning -- they smell like... victory."

shafeeq
Posts: 234
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Re: Suggestions to Bolster Buggy Popularity & Success

Postby shafeeq » Mon Apr 20, 2015 6:43 pm

I agree that the current level of commentating and video production is excellent for both buggy and non-buggy people watching the races in person, and buggy people watching remotely.

But non-buggy people who don't make it to the course will never see it, and they are the new crowd we need to pull in.
This year's races were full of "we'll sell you the whole seat, but you'll only need the edge" action, even if you didn't know or care who was in them. Booth is impossible to miss, but buggy is hidden away.

My first contact with buggy was walking past some SN pledge waiting with a buggy on Friday night to get in line for the next morning's rolls. And teams doing drops in the middle of the day after design. Both of those were useless requirements that were rightly dropped, but that also removed the few occasions where buggy was visible to the rest of campus.

1. In the lead-up to Carnival, we need to have the highlight reel of the last year's races running on video screens in well traveled areas - the UC lobby, workout rooms, Midway, etc. so it is on people's radar that there's an event coming up. Simulcast the races there too, so people walking on the "inside" of campus can see there's something going on next door. Since nobody is up at hour, and we have the jumbotrons anyway, show it on tape delay on midway in the afternoon, too, which might get people for the next morning.

2. Promote it better to the outside community - we now have road closure schedules posted along roads leading to the course, but they're bland plain text & pretty much impossible to read from a moving car. Phipps, on the other hand, has much larger (and annoying to move) signs announcing their events. Surely we can come up with something more professional-looking, that conveys what the event they're being inconvenienced for actually is. The "coming soon" banners on the construction fencing around the UC extension are an example. The university must have a department responsible for community relations or something.

3. Have a visible, daytime, qualifying event. Maybe a race around the parking lot. Or Hill 1 "final push practice" to set heat selection order - don't have to deal with Phipps to close Tech St.

4.Surely, CMU must have classes involving marketing/advertising. Perhaps we could entice someone to consider Buggy as a product to promote.

aepibuggy
Posts: 51
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Graduation Year: 2008
Real Name: Bryan Arsham
Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Re: Suggestions to Bolster Buggy Popularity & Success

Postby aepibuggy » Mon Apr 20, 2015 8:55 pm

I posted this to the news comment, but I may as well repost it here:

If you look at Sam's presentation from Thursday, you'll see that the number of teams competing (there were 46 this year), though well below the early 1990s heyday, has been pretty consistent for the last 20 years. We're well above where we were in the early 80s and before. So I'm not too worried about the existing of buggy in 5 years. I do, however, agree that we need to increase participation. But I'm not sure that increased awareness is the key. From talking to AEPi brothers (as both an alum, and because I find them to really be a barometer, since I have never been convinced that their continued participation every year is a given), the two main barriers are money and willingness to wake up at 5am on weekends. The main barrier being the latter. Unfortunately, there isn't much that we can do about that one. Having more weekends to roll throughout the year may help, because it means that an org that can't get people out every day (or every weekend) can take certain days off here and there if need be. Of course, they would still need to do their chores if there are rolls, so I'm not sure how much that actually helps. Is it somehow possible to get permits for later in the day every once in a while? I assume not. But I would argue that the hour is the greatest barrier (money, as I mentioned, is another barrier, but I think the BAA has offered assistance in that area in the past, or at least discussed it, so I'm not sure if it's worth discussing again).

Regarding race times, SDC's win this year in men's is the slowest winning race time since 1980. All the posts I've seen above have complained about how bad this is. I feel the exact opposite way. In fact, I think a slower winning time this year is EXACTLY what buggy needs. Why?

1) The fastest orgs (let's say SDC, circa 2008-2014, and PiKA, circa 2008-2009) are on a mission to set the course record. They believe that they have the technology and the pushers to do it. So what does the slower winning time mean for them? Nothing - They'll continue to fight for that course record, which is independent of the winning time.

2) The top orgs (SDC, PiKA, SigEp, CIA, Fringe, and Spirit if they can improve their freerolls) are fighting for the 1st place trophy. When the winning team is a second off the course record, it makes it extremely unlikely that they'd get to take home that first place trophy (no offense to CIA, who did exceptionally well this year and has clearly found a wheel compound that may be the future of buggy, but I just can't see them putting up a 2:04). When the winner regresses to a 2:12, suddenly raceday isn't a "let's crown SDC and have everyone battle for 2nd" day, but rather it's a "we have a real chance to win" day. Which means more training, more desire, more excitement, and most importantly, more interest.

3) The second division orgs (we'll say Apex, SAE, and SigNu) see slower times and can say "We actually have a chance at making second raceday!" On top of that, it means that one or two DQs or DNFs, and they're in trophy territory. SAE's 2:24 this year wouldn't have made most second racedays. I know, because in 2009 we rolled a 2:21.49 and finished 11th. The excitement at the house had we made second raceday that year would have been enormous. Once again, the chance at making second raceday and possibly earning a trophy increases excitement and interest.

4) The newer orgs (PhiDelt, any other org that wants to start up, and I'm including AEPi here since the state of the buggy program is essentially that of a new program) are probably the most helped by this. The reason for that is because, as I said before, one of the biggest barriers to entry is getting up at 5am every weekend. It's INCREDIBLY tough to convince someone to do that when they're not fighting for anything. Most of the alumni on this board may not realize this, because they were either in orgs that are good now, were good when they were involved, or at least have a history of making a second raceday. But as someone who ran an organization that had no shot at second raceday, and trying to get that organization to wake up, and be willing to spend money to build a buggy, it was hell trying to convince them to do it, mainly because the brothers would say "what's the point?" My response was always "well, we want to have fun" (I would also say that for us, it was a recruitment tool, but really that was a lie). The rebuttal is that if you're not a buggy person, waking up at 5am is NOT fun. Spending money to build something that 1/5 of the people in the organization will enjoy just doesn't seem worth it. But if, instead, you can tell those people "the reason we're doing this is that we can be competitive and actually have a chance at making second raceday", suddenly everyone is more interested. People like winning. People like having a chance. When you need to put up a sub-2:15 time to make second raceday and you're a newer org, you're basically starting your buggy program because you think that some time, in the future, you will have the interest and the ability to be competitive. When suddenly all you need to do is put up a 2:25, you can be competitive now. Even if you don't end up winning, making second raceday in and of itself is an accomplishment for a newer team. It gets people excited. It opens up other possibilities, like winning design comp. It works as a recruiting tool ("Last year, we made second raceday...With you pushing, we can move into trophy position!"). And most importantly, it INCREASES INTEREST. Especially from organizations that don't have a buggy program. So this may actually be the key point. The lifeblood of buggy may be the C and D teams from the independents. But the key to making buggy more competitive and fun for everyone is to get more orgs (particularly fraternities and sororities) involved. And if you can show them that they have a chance at making second raceday in Year 1, suddenly they're a lot more interested.

As far as increasing awareness, I'm all for that. I'm not sure that awareness is actually an issue (on Sunday, Friday rolls had been viewed on cmUTV's website about 7500 times, and Saturday rolls had been viewed about 5000 times - Yes, many of these were probably alumni), but there's certainly no harm in increasing awareness. One positive thing to note beginning next year, though, is that midway is moving to the CFA Parking Lot. So now booth will be right next to buggy. And since booth is clearly visible and a draw to people, it may very well attract people to buggy as well (especially if they do the smart thing and open Midway at 9am on Friday and Saturday to coincide with raceday, rather than the current time, which I think is either 10 or 11am). I love the idea of including video of recent rolls the week of carnival and live video of raceday in places like the UC for people just walking past (when I was a freshman, cmuTV would replay the previous year's 2nd raceday for roughly the first couple of weeks of classes...I can't tell you how many times I watched the 2004 raceday during orientation week...and I had no idea what buggy was at the time). I'm less sold on making changes to truck weekend for awareness purposes, as I wouldn't expect any non-buggy person to come out for truck weekend, no matter what you do with it.

Anyway, that's my long-winded take on the state of buggy. My personal recommendation would be to have recent alums from some of the teams that have only recently become competitive (CIA, Apex and SigEp) reach out to some fraternities/sororities/other orgs that don't have buggy teams, explain that if they wanted to start a buggy program, those specific alums and the BAA would be willing to help them get it off the ground, and that this year a 2:24 was good enough to make second raceday, which is a time that a team could actually put up in their first or second year (for reference, KKG-ZBT put up a 2:24.75 in its only year, 2010, Deltaforce put up a 2:28 in its only year, 2012, and hell, even AEPi has put up a 2:21 before), so you could have a chance to make the finals early on, while still learning ways to improve your team to eventually take home the 1st place trophy. And if you're an org that doesn't care about winning, it's a ton of fun, you meet a lot of great people, get some real world experience (if you're planning on being an engineer), and can use being a part of buggy as a recruiting tool for your organization.

Zatchmo
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2nd Organization: AEPi
Graduation Year: 2011
Real Name: Zachary Waldman

Re: Suggestions to Bolster Buggy Popularity & Success

Postby Zatchmo » Tue Apr 21, 2015 10:05 am


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Elmo Zoneball
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Re: Suggestions to Bolster Buggy Popularity & Success

Postby Elmo Zoneball » Tue Apr 21, 2015 4:53 pm

"I love the smell of solvents in the morning -- they smell like... victory."

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felmley
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Re: Suggestions to Bolster Buggy Popularity & Success

Postby felmley » Tue Apr 21, 2015 5:31 pm

KEY SUGGESTION: Repair or remove the Login function on these forums! I know we have some $ now. If the current moderator/webmaster is too busy, let's hire someone to repair this. Everyone is still talking on the "Raceday Preview" page, because this site is too difficult to move between threads. How can we welcome the outside world if we can't even give them a working login?
how the mighty have fallen

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Elmo Zoneball
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Re: Suggestions to Bolster Buggy Popularity & Success

Postby Elmo Zoneball » Wed Apr 22, 2015 7:18 pm

"I love the smell of solvents in the morning -- they smell like... victory."

buggypusher
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Re: Suggestions to Bolster Buggy Popularity & Success

Postby buggypusher » Wed Apr 22, 2015 7:29 pm

I would say conversely that Fraternities/Greeks should get some funding from the school for doing buggy, like a monetary subsidy for each team that qualifies for Raceday (women's and men's count, that way the fraternities will go out of their way to convince women to push for Raceday, further increasing buggy's attention and visibility on campus).

It doesn't even have to be that much, even if it's $200/qualified team that's $1600 dollars to a big org like SigEp, and if you look at this year they get an additional $200 just for getting 5 more women pushers to create a women's C team counterpart to their men's C team.

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Jmohin
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Re: Suggestions to Bolster Buggy Popularity & Success

Postby Jmohin » Thu Apr 23, 2015 9:21 am

Hey I really like that idea! ;-)


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