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SBD/September 9, 2011/Marketing and SponsorshipPrint All
Under Armour is not the "first company to push the envelope in the area of college uniforms," but the jerseys the Univ. of Maryland football team wore Monday night "took whatever Nike does to an enitrely different place," according to Michael Wilbon of ESPN.com. UM nationally has “no football identity, no hook,” and company President, Chair & CEO Kevin Plank “knows this all too well because he played football at Maryland.” Plank knows “winning and not wardrobe will address that in the long-term." But Plank said, "The worst thing is when you have no voice.” Wilbon noted uniforms “often provide an identity, especially in an urban setting like Maryland’s College Park campus, located eight miles from Washington, D.C.” Plank said, “The initial question was how to create something that was striking and powerful … I wanted to be respectful … I had people saying, ‘Don’t take Terps off the helmet, don’t do this, don’t do that.’ But we’re going full-speed, and we’ll make mistakes full-speed. I’m not saying it’s perfect. … It’s definitely screaming something.” Former NFL QB Boomer Esiason, a UM alum, said, “It’s the most conversation about sports at Maryland since Gary Williams’ team won the NCAA basketball tournament in 2002. That’s a long time.” Wilbon noted a fan “tweeted excitedly that Maryland’s uniforms are 'legit.'” That shows that Plank "has done something that should excite [coach Randy] Edsall and anybody else looking at how a uniform can affect performance, or more importantly, recruitment.” The younger generations, “early returns suggest, loved the first installment of the Maryland uniforms, loved the non-conformity, loved that nothing else in college football land looks like it.” And if anything, “it should mean a ton of jersey sales for Maryland when they’re finally put in retail stores” (ESPN.com, 9/8).
LET'S GIVE 'EM SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT: Plank appeared on ESPN Radio's "The Scott Van Pelt Show" Tuesday and said, "A lot of people are gonna have opinions, and yeah that's good. They were talking about the Maryland uniforms on the 'Today' show (Tuesday) morning." But he added, "I think the uniforms did all the talking for us, and more importantly the team did all the talking on the field." Van Pelt asked Plank "about the possibility of Maryland being to Under Armour what the many-uniformed Oregon Ducks are to Nike." Plank joked, "Don't get involved in a land war in Asia. Be careful how far that you go. This has nothing to do with anybody else, and that's the last thing we want to say. I think (Oregon has) got hundreds of combinations of uniforms. So we're not trying to say let's out-uniform anybody else. We're gonna control what we can control." However, Plank did say, "What we care about is what 17-, 18-year old kids are thinking about where they want to play football in the next couple years" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 9/8). In Jacksonville, Garry Smits wrote “maybe the uniforms were ugly.” But, he added, “there’s no denying that Maryland received nationwide attention when its splashy, flashy uniforms patterned after a state flag were unveiled on national TV.” In addition to “burning up Twitter and other social media sites (even drawing a reaction from LeBron James), the Maryland uniforms were featured on ‘Good Morning America,’ ‘Today’ and CNN, in addition to sports networks” (JACKSONVILLE.com, 9/7). The GLOBE & MAIL’s Bruce Dowbiggin wrote football fans “are still trying to digest the ultra-modern uniforms” worn by the Terps on Monday. Dowbiggin: “If the idea was to get people talking about lowly Maryland, it worked. The unis trended at the top of Twitter all Monday night and Tuesday morning” (GLOBE & MAIL, 9/8).
DIFFERING OPINIONS: USA TODAY's Michael Hiestand writes the "whole point of college football" has become "getting creative to get attention." UM's "off-beat uniforms ... present a fabulous marketing tool to do just that." Hiestand: "Who cares if Maryland's odd ensembles seem inspired by medieval jousting or a first-grade art project? ... Clothes may not make the man, but costumes can really get you noticed." However, USA TODAY's Michael McCarthy writes such uniforms are a "great idea -- if you want to become a national laughingstock." McCarthy: "College football is about tradition. Keep messing with that tradition through more wild and crazy unis, and this sport will start to look like a circus." He adds, "This seems to be more about cash-strapped schools chasing the last nickel from athletic companies than anything else" (USA TODAY, 9/9).
GOING ON THE AUCTION BLOCK: In Baltimore, Ryan Sharrow reported UM “will auction 10 of both the hotly debated helmets and jerseys," with proceeds benefitting the school's athletic department. The bidding "will begin Friday morning and end at 3 p.m. on Sept. 19," with the helmets opening at $500 and jerseys for $200 (BIZJOURNALS.com, 9/8).
When CF Nyjer Morgan joined the Brewers late in March, “no one inside the team's front office was thinking they had a marketing and branding bonanza on their hands,” but Morgan “has proved to be a two-tool player: he's a star on and off the field,” according to Rick Wood of the MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL. Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger said, "At the beginning of the year, he had no footprint on the market. ... Now, I would say his celebrity is really something we did not anticipate. But it's real and it's certainly caught on with our fan base." There are “three different Morgan shirts in the team's two retail stores at Miller Park.” There is the Morgan player T-shirt and the "Tony Plush" T-shirt, named for “Morgan's alter ego.” There is also a new gold "Gotta Go" T-shirt, named for “a favorite Morgan saying.” Schlesinger didn't disclose exact figures, but said that the Tony Plush shirt is the “most popular selling T-shirt and generates three times the sales of any other player T-shirt.” Morgan's own player T-shirt “is in the top five.” The first 30,000 fans attending Friday’s Phillies-Brewers game “will get a special Tony Plush rally towel.” Schlesinger: "We're certainly taking advantage of his popularity" (MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL, 9/8).
As a companion to his cover story in this week’s SportsBusiness Journal, reporter Michael Smith talks about IMG College’s structure and ability to sign major sponsorship deals with the likes of UPS and MillerCoors across its affiliated collegiate programs. Smith notes the fragmented nature of doing sponsorships within collegiate sports: “Now, what IMG College set out to do with these $300 million worth of acquisitions, from ISP Sports and CLC, now they have brought these properties together and they are able to become a one-stop shop for major brands that want to get into college sports, and that’s what they have been able to do with this UPS deal.” Smith: “It’s very complicated for an IMG College to go out across its 80 different college properties and clear all that inventory so they can bring a package together to a brand and sell it, so the brand knows it has this space, this space and this space across all their colleges.” Read Smith's full story in this week's issue and watch the full video below.
The AP's Jenna Fryer noted NASCAR driver Jeff Gordon will be aided by a new sponsor in Saturday night's Sprint Cup Series Wonderful Pistachios 400 at Richmond Int'l Raceway when Chase Card Services puts the "AARP Visa Card and the Chase logo on the hood and decklid of the No. 24 Chevrolet." Chase will do the same at the AAA 400 at Dover Int'l Speedway later this month. The sponsorship is in "cooperation with the AARP's Drive to End Hunger campaign." Since signing on to sponsor Gordon, the AARP Foundation "has raised more than $12 million toward the campaign through individual and corporate donations." The effort will be "boosted now by Chase, which has agreed to donate $1 for each new account opened through 2012 to the Drive to End Hunger campaign." Chase has "limited the donation to $2 million per year" (AP, 9/8).
HAT RACK: EPL club Arsenal has "won a court case in Spain forcing the owner of a hat shop to change the name of her premises." Alicia Simon "has now been told by the Spanish patent and Trademark Office to change the name of her hat shop 'Arsenale.'" Simon "registered the name of her shop before she even opened it in 2007 despite protestations" from the English club. Simon "admits to having no knowledge" of soccer (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/8).
ENERGY BOOST: The NHL Panthers said that Sheets Energy Strips -- a product Heat F LeBron James "helped launch earlier this year -- will be the presenting sponsor of their training camp, which starts Sept. 16." Sheets is also "listed now as a marketing partner for both the Panthers" and BankAtlantic Center (AP, 9/8).