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Jeff Kolpack, Published December 06 2012

Kolpack: 'Bison Game Day' app adds to fan experience

Fargo - One thing about these marketing folks: When they leave the office, they never really leave the office. The ideas never stop.

So one day, North Dakota State director of marketing and promotions Justin Swanson was talking to a buddy about a concert his friend attended, where during the course of the show concert fans pulled out their smartphones and held them up. Click.

“Literally, the light just clicked,” Swanson said.

It wasn’t long before a smartphone idea was being thrown around in assistant athletic director Troy Goergen’s office during a brainstorming session of what to do this football season.

“The football team had just won a national championship and fans expect a national championship effort on game day,” Swanson said. “What can we do to take the intro to the next level?”

Well, in this day and age, that usually means something to do with technology. And that is how the “Bison Game Day” app was born. It’s the new hit in the lights-out, Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome football team intro that has to rank as one of the best in all of college football.

The app has a green and yellow strobe that fans hold up like the cigarette lighter ode to a rock star. The cigarette lighter was so 80s.

This is 2012.

It made its debut during the Youngstown State game back on Oct. 6, and by then it already had 10,000 downloads. It trended in a sports category on Google Play as one of the most downloaded apps for the Android phone.

The number of total downloaded apps is now around 15,000, with Android holding a decided edge over the iPhone. And here I thought us iPhone users were more hip.

The Bison Game Day app was actually designed by Flint Communications, which for years now has been an ad agency behind the NDSU marketing train. The Flint web developers came up with the coding of the app, designed it, tested it and proceeded to get it on the Apple and Android stores.

It’s also free, as opposed to the $9.99 Bison towel that is being sold.

So far, Swanson doesn’t think any other college programs or professional teams have copied the idea. NDSU could be to the smartphone strobe what Krazy George was to the wave: an innovator.

The wave was so 80s.

The Game Day app also has the words to the school song, a tailgating map and a photo link that connects to NDSU’s Facebook page. If it really wanted to go first class, there should be a link to Forum Communications’ Media Blog Pre-Game Show.

“We’re thrilled,” Swanson said. “Every game has just gotten bigger and bigger and the word is spreading.”

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia