SBD/October 23, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Rutgers' Nike-Designed "Medieval" Uniforms Selling Well Despite Mixed Reviews

Pre-scuffed chrome helmets "drive home the image of battle-scarred warrior"
Nike designers in creating uniforms this season for the Rutgers football team “found inspiration in the concept of knighthood and medieval armor,” according to Vicki Hyman of the Newark STAR-LEDGER. The uniforms -- part of the school's five-year, $5.2M outfit deal with Nike -- feature “ribbing at the shoulder to suggest iron plates, a subtle chain-mail texture to the pointed-serif metallic numbers, and pre-scuffed chrome helmets to drive home the image of battle-scarred warriors.” The school “acknowledges that the silvery numbers are ‘a little difficult to read’ in the red uniform reserved for home games.” But Rutgers Associate AD/Athletic Communications Jason Baum said that players “overwhelmingly love the new uniforms," and the change has had a "positive impact on the team’s recruiting efforts.” New Brunswick-based Scarlet Fever store owner Steve Ostergren said that the jerseys have been “selling fast -- the first-ever ‘blackout’ jerseys are sold out, and Nike won’t be shipping more.” Ostergren “attributes it to madness over both the new design and the undefeated season.” Former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano and current coach Kyle Flood “worked with Nike for more than a year to develop the uniforms, which feature technological as well aesthetic updates, including high-tech padding in the ‘hit zone’ and more breathable, lighter jerseys that shed moisture” (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 10/20).

THUMBS UP, THUMBS DOWN: YAHOO SPORTS’ Graham Watson noted several college teams “debuted new uniforms and helmets on Saturday, and some were good, some were bad and some were downright ugly.” Boise State’s matte black helmets “looked even better in action.” But “awesome as the helmets are, the uniforms are just OK.” Watson: “Nothing wrong with them really, but the helmet is so fantastic that it needed a fantastic uniform to go with it.” Northwestern’s Wildcat helmet "is lame.” The school’s “N” logo is “a staple; it’s what is associated with the team.” Watson: “I appreciate the desire to branch out, but this was not the way to go.” Michigan State’s chrome helmets “were a fail.” The helmets “weren't really Michigan State colors (the green seemed off) and in a rivalry game, they took away from the history of the competition” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 10/20).
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