ReliaQuest Building Awareness for Cybersecurity Through Bowl Sponsorship

December 31, 2023

ReliaQuest Building Awareness for Cybersecurity Through Bowl Sponsorship

By Joey Johnston

Brian Murphy, founder and chief executive officer of ReliaQuest, can't wait for New Year's Day, when the LSU Tigers meet the Wisconsin Badgers in the ReliaQuest Bowl at Raymond James Stadium.

It's the second season of ReliaQuest's multi-year agreement to serve as title sponsor for one of Tampa Bay's foremost sporting traditions, matching teams from the SEC and Big Ten. Over 37 past games, it has generated nearly $1.2-billion in economic impact while showcasing the area to visitors and annually being televised to more than 100 countries.

Sponsorship has its perks.

Murphy learned that last season when he awoke at 4:30 a.m., excitedly preparing for the matchup between Mississippi State and Illinois. The mixing-and-mingling opportunities were top-notch. The game's finish was outstanding.

But for Murphy, the highlight moment might have been just before kickoff when he flipped the coin at midfield. While waiting for his sideline cue to begin the ceremony, Murphy's teenage son, Parker, expressed his concerns.

"He said, 'Dad, do you know how to flip that coin? You're going to be on TV,' '' Murphy said with a laugh. "And I was like, 'Of course, I know how to flip a coin.' But as I'm going to midfield, he had gotten in my head. Was I going to mess this up?

"It went OK. Parker said I did all right. I think he was seriously concerned. He didn't want to go to school and have the kids tell him that his dad couldn't flip a coin properly. But you know what? Being out there, watching the game unfold, the ReliaQuest Bowl, it was all really, really cool.''

Murphy, a Florida State University graduate and a member of the FSU Business School Hall of Fame, founded ReliaQuest in 2007. It's a cyber-security firm, growing rapidly in one of the world's most vital industries.

ReliaQuest's headquarters are in Tampa, but the company has more than 700 customers and 1,200 teammates working across six global operating centers. Beyond its services, Murphy said ReliaQuest's primary mission is giving back.

The Tampa-based bowl began as the Hall of Fame Bowl, then had a 27-season run as the Outback Bowl, marking the longest-running title sponsorship of any bowl. While searching for a new partner, bowl president and CEO Jim McVay was immediately taken by ReliaQuest's energy, relationship-building and commitment to the Tampa Bay area.

"Brian was enthusiastic from the beginning," McVay said. "What we've learned about the people at ReliaQuest is they're all very smart and very creative. And they are people who love working with other people.

"Everyone from Brian to their design staff to their marketing staff, it's all open communication and a commitment to doing things as well as they can be done. It's really an ideal relationship and I believe ReliaQuest has realized a lot of benefits.''

McVay said the popularity of college football naturally lends itself to widespread exposure for the entire bowl-game system. For

months on end, there's constant talk about the ReliaQuest Bowl and which teams might be selected.

"There are nonstop impressions in newspapers, publications and broadcast sources,'' McVay said. "Every time you turn around, the ReliaQuest Bowl name is out there. I think getting exposure for ReliaQuest has been extremely beneficial.

"These things can be hard to quantify. But when your name is constantly mentioned in publication, when you're on TV in more than 100 countries, when you're able to bring your customers to a big-time bowl game, how do you put a value on that?''

Murphy said last year provided a valuable learning experience while working with the bowl staff and the two schools.

"We're accustomed to fighting cybersecurity challenges worldwide, so learning the motions of a college football game was a little different,'' Murphy said. "But we are really excited to be involved with a sports brand. It has been a hit on all levels and we can see it through our engagement numbers.

"It's a year-long event and that has really been an education on how you engage all year long. We're going to keep getting better at it. There's nothing better than seeing that logo and seeing the players all fired up to play the game. You appreciate what the players must do to prepare for that moment. In a way, it's like the work you put in to build a business.''

As part of the bowl game, ReliaQuest gives an award to a player from each team that is voted upon by the entire squad. It's meant to honor an important accomplishment, such as being the glue for the team or putting in unrecognized work during the offseason.

In addition to making the public aware of ReliaQuest's cybersecurity mention, Murphy said the bowl-game sponsorship has helped forge a deeper relationship with the community.

"People know about this bowl game and they'll pick up on the fact that the sponsor is a large technology company based in Tampa,'' Murphy said. "It might be enough to make a young student curious. Maybe it's through Junior Achievement, a Boys and Girls Club or one of our school programs. If somebody thinks, 'Hmmm, I could work in technology or cybersecurity. I could learn how to sell cybersecurity or project-manage cybersecurity.' Well, that has opened a pathway and shown people a potential way to chase their dreams.

"I think about Bob Basham and Chris Sullivan (Outback founders) and all they have done in this community. When I was starting the business and paving the way, I looked to them as leaders and entrepreneurs with the examples they set. Now we are involved in our local bowl game, looking to give back and help our community. That really excites me and we're so proud to be a part of the New Year's Day tradition that is now the ReliaQuest Bowl."