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Originally published Saturday, August 28, 2010 at 10:10 PM

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Washington prepares its low-key (for now) Jake Locker campaign

Huskies are prepared to promote star quarterback Jake Locker.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Latest from the Husky Football & Basketball blogs


The University of Washington is careful not to use the word "Heisman" when discussing the plans it has to promote quarterback Jake Locker.

"From our perspective, the way we've approached it, this is going to be a promotional campaign on behalf of Jake Locker," said Shannon Kelly, the school's associate athletic director for marketing and strategic programs.

And if people link Locker with the Heisman, all the better.

Staying clear of the actual word Heisman, however, is part of UW's plan to try to keep its campaign as authentic to Locker's wishes as possible.

As Kelly says, Locker is "a guy that isn't necessarily really comfortable with promoting himself."

So Locker wanted anything done to be as low-key as possible, while ultimately going along with the campaign understanding that it can also help the school and the football program.

The campaign began when UW sent a postcard last spring to all members of the Football Writers Association of America touting Locker's achievements — though nowhere was the word "Heisman" used. Many FWAA members, however, vote for the Heisman Trophy.

In June, the school sent Locker on a two-day tour of leading national media organizations in the New York area, including a stop at the ESPN studios in Bristol, Conn., hoping to raise national awareness of the Huskies' quarterback.

As for rest of the campaign, Kelly says there will be a Web site launched near the start of the season, and that postcards will likely be sent on a weekly basis documenting Locker's progress.

The Web site, Kelly says, will include highlights and some of the usual features, but will also include a link to one of Locker's favorite charities, Touchdown for Kids, benefiting Seattle Children's Hospital, as well as videos of his hometown of Ferndale. (One Locker-related Heisman Web site already up and running is not affiliated with UW).

Some of that is being produced in conjunction with Seattle-area advertising agency DNA, a company that has also helped produce some of UW's football advertising and has done nonathletic work with upper campus.

Kelly says the tenor of the in-season promotions will depend on how the season goes.

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"We'll make sure it's appropriate to how his season is going and how the team is doing," she said.

Kelly says the money spent so far on the promotion is minimal — the total can't be calculated until the season is complete — and also involves tradeouts.

The Huskies could unveil some larger and more creative Locker-related promotional plans should events warrant, Kelly said, though for now, the school is keeping those under wraps.

"We've seen people come out real big with huge Times Square promotions, or seen other people — look at Toby Gerhart — where they made a push late in the season and he was kind of the dark horse," she said of the Stanford running back who finished second in Heisman voting in 2009. "The one thing we don't want to do is not be clearly prepared. So we're going to have an arsenal of different things that we may or may not continue to push through the season, depending on where he is."

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com

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