Game-Changers: How UVI’s Marketing Campaign Scored Big Wins

The Challenge:

The University of the Virgin Islands (UVI), the only HBCU in the Caribbean, faced the challenge of promoting its athletic department and drawing interest to the first-ever HBCU basketball classic in St. Thomas, USVI. This event was an opportunity to showcase the picturesque island backdrop and attract attendees, both local and from the continental United States. However, there were no existing marketing materials, limited brand awareness, an all-new administrative team, and the timeline was tight – just 6 weeks.

What We Did:





TB Media Group recognized the unique selling points of UVI as the only HBCU in the Caribbean hosting its first-ever HBCU basketball tournament in a tropical location. We embraced the chance to introduce the world to this lesser-known HBCU in a stunning location. Our content creators captured the beauty of St. Thomas, showcasing its state-of-the-art facilities and postcard-worthy scenery. While our team worked on event branding, sponsor coordination, social media presence, and messaging, our photo and video team painted a visual story. Leveraging these strengths, our team executed a diverse, multifaceted approach to our organic marketing campaign:

Location Scouting and Photography: Our creative team made five trips to St. Thomas to scout locations, conduct posed photo shoots during media day, and provide live event coverage during the tournament. We captured portraits, action shots, and behind-the-scenes moments of student-athletes, coaches, and staff, which were used across various promotional materials, including the event program, social media, and digital platforms.

Content Strategy and Delivery: With our robust image library, we consistently delivered fresh content on the athletic department's social media channels. We also proactively provided visiting teams, sponsors, and strategic partners with a turnkey, custom content library, leveraging existing relationships and empowering them to promote the event to their followers.

Asset Creation: Our team developed high-quality marketing materials, such as banners, posters, postcards, and brochures, to elevate the event's recognition. The following year, we designed a 2023 calendar featuring the players. This calendar quickly became a bestseller, selling out at the tournament and campus bookstore.

Leveraging Student Ambassadors: Student-athletes, with their individual social media followings, were engaged as built-in brand ambassadors. They eagerly shared the high-quality photos, extending the reach to a wider audience.

The Outcome:


The kids loved [your photographer] Greg and your staff. It was just an amazing experience because you brought the best out of our student athletes. We felt like we were on ESPN...It was really professionally done.

Dr. Jerel Drew, Athletic Director, University of the Virgin Islands (2021-2022)

The Result:





The marketing campaign yielded impressive results. Ticket and calendar sales experienced a significant boost, with fans, students, university administrators, visiting teams, players' families, locals, sponsors, and alumni showing enthusiastic support both in person and on social media. The calendar sold out quickly, underlining its resounding success.

On the digital front, the tournament’s hashtag soared to become the #1 trending event on Twitter in the Virgin Islands, substantially elevating UVI’s exposure and visibility.

Moreover, the campaign led to notable program advancements. The event saw an extraordinary surge in attendance, with over 3,200 people attending over three days, surpassing the initial goal of 1,000 attendees per day. This surge in attendance translated into a profit increase of $15,000, providing crucial financial support. 

Social media played a pivotal role, with our #UVIHBCUClassic hashtag garnering impressive metrics including:

The overwhelmingly positive online sentiment further bolstered the event’s success.

Additionally, the campaign generated significant interest from 11 schools eager to participate in the following year’s tournament. This demonstrated a heightened level of attention and credibility surrounding the event. 

The content resonated with the community, participants, students, and partners, leading to widespread sharing and amplification in real-time, further contributing to the overall success of the UVI HBCU Basketball Classic.

One of the results that drove long-term impact, was that the marketing helped UVI capture the attention of established athletic conferences, with the hope that they’d be invited to leave their independent status behind and become a conference affiliate – providing the program stability and validation. One year following, UVI found their home with the GCAC Athletic Conference and was also in discussions about potentially hosting a conference championship.

“Marketing a local basketball tournament, TB Media Group earned significant coverage beyond the Virgin Islands, extending into the mainland US. They delivered ahead of deadlines and were flexible in integrating last-minute tasks. Customers can expect a partner that empowers their mission and goals.” 

“They met the deadlines ahead of time and were great at problem-solving with us.”

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