The Season Ticket Mailer

Season ticket pamphlet front cover

Front cover of 1974 Season ticket mailer. 

Season ticket mailer page 1

A page of the 1974 football season ticket mailer

After becoming Athletic Director in 1968, Don Canham addressed the issue of low ticket sales by quadrupling the number of families receiving the season ticket mailer, from 100,000 to 400,000.[1] In the mailers, Canham not only promoted the games but also the “spectacle of college football.”[2] The mailers included tailgating recipes and tips for parking. In an effort to promote football Saturday as a “family day on campus,”[3]  the mailers targeted the women of the household, explaining that they held the authority over the family’s activities each weekend. If the mailers could convince mothers and wives to attend Michigan games, Canham argued, “they were home free.” [4] The athletic department also included opportunities to purchase souvenirs from coffee mugs to sweatshirts, in the season ticket mailers. These souvenir coupons provided tremendous revenue to the athletic department.

In the early 1970s the athletic department sent out nearly 1.7 million mailers, encouraging fans to purchase season tickets. The days of wondering whether they were going to “have to start planting shrubs”[5] to fill empty seats in Michigan Stadium are long gone, as the Wolverines continue to draw hundreds of thousands of fans to games. In 2014, however, higher student season ticket prices led to a decrease in attendance. In 2015, though, the hiring of current football coach Jim Harbaugh along with reduced ticket prices, allowed U-M to reclaim its crown as the school with the highest average attendance.[6] And this success remains, according to Canham himself, because of the contents of the season-ticket mailers.[7]

[1] Canham, Don B., and Larry Paladino. From the Inside: A Half-century of Michigan Athletics. Ann Arbor, MI: Olympia Sports, 1996. Print.

[2] Ibid., p. 110.

[3] 1974 Season ticket mailer Promotional Materials box 2., Donald B. Canham Papers, University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library, Ann Arbor, MI.

[4] “Marketing Michigan,” Speeches, box 3., Donald B. Canham Papers, University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library, Ann Arbor, MI.

[5] Detroit News Magazine.

[6] Snyder, Mark. "Michigan Regains Football Attendance Crown." Detroit Free Press. Gannett Media, 18 Dec. 2015. Web. 22 June 2017.

[7] “Marketing Michigan,” Speeches, box 3., Donald B. Canham Papers, University of Michigan Bentley Historical Library, Ann Arbor, MI.