In Advertising

PR Student: Matthew Maddix
This article was produced in cooperation with the COMMS 425 lab.

Russell and Kati Pham’s love story sprouted from their common love for BYU sports. They were introduced at a men’s volleyball game and got engaged at a men’s basketball game. After spending hundreds of date nights at BYU games, Russell and Kati have shown they are “BYU’s Biggest Fans,” winning a free trip to Hawaii for their dedication.

Russell and Kati Pham celebrating the Cougars’ homecoming victory over Mississippi State at LaVell Edwards Stadium on October 14, 2016. Photo courtesy of Russell Pham.

Russell is a senior advertising student and Kati is a senior marketing student at BYU. After they got married, Kati encouraged Russell to make a video depicting their love story so they could show it to their children and grandchildren one day. The video project was easy to put off due to a busy school schedule—until a friend shared Box Home Loan’s BYU’s Biggest Fan Competition.

To enter the competition, fans had to submit a one-minute video showing why they are BYU’s biggest fans. The winner would be selected by a daily online voting system, and the creators of the winning video would be awarded a free trip to Hawaii to see the BYU football team take on the University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.

Russell saw this as an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone and put his video creation skills from his advertising classes to work.

“I wrote down a list of all the things that proved that we were big BYU fans. We have over 130 shirts, and we have BYU on our license plate. We travel to an away game every year,” Russell said. But the clincher was his unique angle: “Who else went on their first dates and got engaged at BYU games?”

Russell and Kati Pham cheering on the Cougars as they play the Michigan Wolverines on September 26, 2015. Photo courtesy of Russell Pham.

From his advertising classes Russell said he has learned that, “Nobody cares about the product; they care about the story.” He and Kati felt that sending a newly married couple to Hawaii for being BYU sports lovebirds was a story that people could get behind.

Another thing Russell did to set the video apart was to narrate it in third person—a story-telling tactic he learned in his advertising classes. He asked Kati’s grandmother, who has been watching BYU sports for more than 60 years, to narrate their story. She happily obliged.

Kati explained she had no idea Russell had been working on this project until he pulled out the recording equipment at Kati’s grandma’s house. “I liked having my grandma in it because I feel like in the future when she is not around it will be a great memory.”

When the video was finished, the real work of getting votes began. Russell and Kati had two months to run their social media campaign and they strategized the most effective way to get their message out there.

“We knew not to spam people every day because you don’t want to turn people off from your brand or your message,” Russell said. Many of the competitors in the contest were putting out simple, repetitive messages like, “Vote for me every day please!” Russell and Kati found a better way.

Russell’s understanding for social media algorithms came in handy. In place of daily spam posts, Russell and Kati told a story with their captions and made people want to do more with fewer posts.

“Whenever someone would vote for us, we would tag them and thank them. Then the person would comment back and say, ‘You’re welcome.’ When people kept commenting on our post, it would keep popping up in people’s timelines—getting us more exposure,” Russell said.

Another trick Russell and Kati used was to ask friends who voted for them to leave a heart on their post rather than just a regular like. “If you get a heart, it moves you up in Facebook’s algorithm more than just a like does,” Russell explained.

The strategy paid off. “I was able to use my advertising background to make sure our campaign worked. It was successful without bothering our friends and family,” said Russell.

Russell and Kati Pham in their usual front-row spot shaking hands with Mitt Romney at the Marriott Center on December 29, 2016. Photo courtesy of Russell Pham.

At the end of the campaign, Russell and Kati were voted “BYU’s Biggest Fans.” The couple will fly out to Hawaii to support the Cougars as they take on the Rainbow Warriors on November 25, 2017.

When asked what they are looking forward to most about the trip, Russell and Kati expressed excitement for warm weather, food, snorkeling and watching the Cougars play.

To see Russell and Kati’s video, visit

Recent Posts
Contact Us

We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Not readable? Change text. captcha txt