Remember Code Blue? Neither do we. In an effort to reenergize the students rewards world, Penn State released the We Are! app, a loyalty rewards system to replace the former and grossly underutilized fan loyalty program. The goal is to generate interest around some of Penn State’s non-revenue sports teams and reward students for attending games. The app was not widely publicized — which was probably Code Blue’s ultimate fate — but it has recently been advertised in the Bryce Jordan Center during basketball games.
The main difference between old and the the new is, of course, digitization. The app inevitably cuts costs by replacing the physical Penn State athletics employees who were needed to sit and swipe IDs with a self-contained app that the user controls. Machines are taking over, even at Penn State.
The app works much like Foursquare does. It uses the GPS on your phone to verify that you’re at the actual game siteand uses timestamps to give fans a window to check in.
The app itself is basic and a bit glitchy. The first category, events, a list of Penn State sporting events by day. This is helpful if you want to distract yourself with a random sporting event on any given night. Each event is worth one point and the goal is to attend events to collect points that you eventually trade for prizes — a fairly straightforward idea.
Except of course, for two exceptions: A women’s indoor track meet, and a wrestling match vs. Oklahoma State, which are each worth three points. These big point games are “Glory Days!,” which makes no sense at all unless the app was designed by Bruce Springsteen. Every sport has one per season, which are announced periodically on the app’s info site.
The next part of the app are the “Awards,” which lists the things you get for different amounts of points. Although I’m pretty sure they meant to use the word “Rewards,” I guess I can let it slide. The value of the rewards, however, is a different story.
Kindly enough, they give you a free fountain drink for going to just one event, which is a plus if you, like me, ever get thirsty, but the rest of the rewards leave much to be desired.
For 10 points, you can get a We Are! Rewards t-shirt, but for 15 you get a free Frito Lay product, making a bag of chips more valuable than a t-shirt. For 50 points you can either get a free gym membership, a $108 value assuming it’s a year-long membership, or you can get a Penn State Nike Dri-Fit long sleeve shirt.
So Penn Staters, what’ll it be — three bags of chips or a gym membership? Of course, the most expensive reward is a 75-point sweatshirt because honestly, isn’t being warm more valuable than going to the gym anyway? At least Code Blue offered free football season tickets for the top 10 point earners.
The app also features a leaderboard in case you’re curious about the username of the student who’s been to the most games, or you want everyone to know that you’re the track and field team’s biggest fan. Other features include news and social media tabs and a link that brings you to the official Penn State store in case you just can’t wait to go to 75 sporting events to get that sweatshirt.
The app also includes a fan cam that lets you upload pictures of yourself at a sporting event so the camera people at the BJC don’t have to look so hard for people to put on screen at games.
Everyone loves Penn State and its sports teams. But this app does little to incentivize participation, considering it takes 50 points and roughly 150 hours of watching sports to earn anything worth more than $30.
I’ll take my bag of chips, please. #OneTeam