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SBD/September 7, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship
Turtle Power? Maryland's Unique Under Armour Uniforms Draw Nation's Attention
Published September 7, 2011
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GREAT WAY TO MARKET SCHOOL, PROGRAM: SI's Stewart Mandel indicated that the UM's uniforms "gave a previously unbuzzworthy program a national identity." Mandel: "As ugly as (the uniforms) were to anyone over a certain age, it accomplished exactly what they want it to. For three hours [Monday] night, everyone was talking about Maryland football. When's the last time anyone talked about Maryland football?" UM Associate Media Relations Dir Shawn Nestor "didn't deny that the goal of the uniforms" was to create "some buzz, but said that they were just a nod to the state's heritage" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 9/7). USA TODAY's Reid Cherner writes Edsall "is a marketing genius trying to rebuild a program." Cherner: "What is better than a coast-to-coast splash on opening night?" (USA TODAY, 9/7). ESPN’s Tony Reali said, “If the idea is you want people to talk about them, then this worked. Maybe next week they come back with the turtle shell helmet” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 9/6). SportsNet N.Y.'s Eamon McAnaney said, “It worked. Maryland on national TV made a splash. ... The Terps hadn't had this much exposure for in forever” ("The Wheel House," SportsNet N.Y., 9/6).
DESIGNED TO MAKE A SPLASH: In Baltimore, Rosen & Barker note UA "intended for the uniforms to make a splash," but maybe "not this much splash." UA Senior VP/Sports Marketing Matt Mirchin said, "It probably got a little bit more attention than we thought. It was a little bit polarizing. You either like it or you don't like it." Rosen & Barker report UM "had originally planned to debut the look for the Notre Dame game" on Nov. 12, but there was "so much at stake during Monday night's game -- new coach, a season opener -- that the team decided, why wait?" (Baltimore SUN, 9/7). Also in Baltimore, Kevin Cowherd wrote “The Terps’ new look is hideously spectacular. And I mean that in a good way -- sort of.” Edsall “is pulling out all the stops trying to energize the Maryland football program and its lethargic fan base.” He is “trying to draw attention to the Terps any way he can,” and when UM “came out in their garish new unis ... it was mission accomplished.” Cowherd: “How to describe the new look? It’s as if Salvador Dali ... got together with the Under Armour uniform designers and they all smoked something ... and decided: ‘Random patterns from the Maryland state flag in a sequential pattern – or not! Can you see it?! Yes! Perfect!” (BALTIMORESUN.com, 9/6). YAHOO SPORTS’ Matt Hinton wrote UM gave us a “fair warning last month, rolling a line of 32 new uniform combinations.” But somehow the team "managed to come out ... in something even weirder for their rare turn in the national spotlight.” Hinton: “Screw it: I like ‘em. That’s right. The new look is original, it’s extremely specific to Maryland” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/5).
PAGING MR. BLACKWELL: ABC News’ Diane Sawyer previewed a report on UM's uniforms titled “Ugly Uniforms?” by noting the Internet "was flooded with chatter about the uniforms based on the state flag,” and many people were asking whether they were the “ugliest sports uniforms ever” (“World News,” ABC, 9/6). Comcast SportsNet Chicago’s David Kaplan asked, “Did you see these absolutely brutal looks? Those things were awful" (“Chicago Tribune Live,” Comcast SportsNet Chicago, 9/6). SportsNet N.Y.'s Chris Carlin: "Those things are God awful! I thought Dale Earnhardt Jr. was going to drive down the field looking across the finish line with that checkered play. Hey, next time just match them up with those old-time NFL Zubaz pants. It’ll complete the look” (“Loud Mouths,” SportsNet N.Y., 9/6). ABC’s Sharyn Alfonsi said the uniforms were “part comic book villain, part medieval times jester" (“GMA,” ABC, 9/7). In Phoenix, Bob Young: "Hideous is too kind. We might call an injury lawyer" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 9/7). The AP's Jim Litke: "We have glimpsed the future of college football, and it's not good" (AP, 9/6).
|UGA criticized for wearing "circus gear"
during season-opening game
COMPANIES GETTING WHAT THEY WANT: In N.Y., Lenn Robbins notes the attention paid to the jerseys worn by UM, UGA and Boise State was "exactly what the marketing folks at Nike and Under Armour were hoping would happen." They created "something really repulsive and let the media provide billions of dollars in free advertising." Oregon "needs its Nike uniforms to help it develop into a brand," but Maryland and Georgia "are brands." UGA fans "should have been insulted to see the Dawgs dressed in traveling circus garb," while UM fans "should have cringed when their team took the field looking as if they found old rugby helmets and slapped on [some] face masks" (N.Y. POST, 9/7). In DC, Ned Martel asked if the UM jerseys were "yet another salvo in a very colorful corporate contest" between UA and Nike (WASHINGTON POST, 9/7). ESPN’s Michael Wilbon said the uniforms were "brilliantly ugly, because this is going to set the agenda for what every school in America is going to do with their uniforms.” Wilbon: "Teams will scrap their uniforms before Saturday and call Kevin Plank” (“PTI,” ESPN, 9/6).
MORE TO COME: In West Palm Beach, Jason Lieser notes Michigan and Notre Dame, which are both adidas schools, "plan to wear unconventional jerseys" for their meeting Saturday night. UM "will wear maize and blue striped tops that are a combination of modern and retro," while Notre Dame will "wear gold helmets that have a large, green clover on each side" (PALM BEACH POST, 9/7).