SBD/March 1, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

Adidas' Postseason College Basketball Jerseys Recall Images Of Zubaz, Hammer Pants

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adidas' new hoops jerseys were trending on social media shortly after being unveiled
adidas on Thursday unveiled its “new, eye-catching uniforms" that six teams -- UCLA, Louisville, Baylor, Kansas, Notre Dame and Cincinnati -- will wear in postseason play, and the camouflaged-patterned shorts and “bright-colored jerseys became a trending topic on social media,” according to Scott Gleeson of USA TODAY. The UCLA, Baylor and Louisville designs “feature sleeves similar” to the ones the Warriors wore in a Feb. 22 game. The Notre Dame and Louisville women’s teams “also will wear the gear.” Notre Dame men’s coach Mike Brey said he unveiled the jerseys to the players Wednesday. Brey: "We had two mannequins in the players lounge, and they’re still buzzing about it.” Cincinnati men’s coach Mick Cronin said, “I’m sure the traditionalists out there are really, really struggling looking at those uniforms” (USA TODAY, 3/1). The AP’s Joe Kay wrote the new look “will be especially head-turning for teams that usually wear tradition on their chests.” Alternate uniforms have become “big business in college sports, from Oregon's fluorescent tones with Nike to Maryland's loud designs with Under Armour.” adidas introduced “special light-weight basketball uniforms for Cincinnati, Louisville and Baylor at tournament time last season.” adidas checked with the schools “to see if they were interested in the tournament designs.” Not everyone “liked the sleeves," as Cronin "turned down the idea for his Bearcats” (AP, 2/28). In Chicago, Brian Hamilton noted Brey was first presented with the idea in October. He said, “Our players love it, and most importantly, that group of dudes I’m trying to get here over the next couple years, I know they really love it” (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 2/28). 

NOT A COMPLETE BREAK FROM TRADITION: Kansas men’s basketball coach Bill Self said that the school will wear the new jerseys for "at least one game in the Big 12 tournament.” Self: "How much we wear them in the Big 12 tournament will probably depend on how we play in them." He added that KU “wouldn't wear the jerseys after the Big 12 tournament, meaning the NCAA tourney is safe from the wild designs.” Self: "Kansas tradition and history should be what is promoted for ... in our look, and we’ve done that for years, but this is the one game where we will make that exception for Adidas" (K.C. STAR, 3/1). Meanwhile, the WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Rachel Bachman notes Indiana is “an Adidas-wearing team, and a storied one at that.” But that is “precisely why Indiana won't be seen any time soon in the new get-ups.” An IU spokesperson in an e-mail wrote, "We wouldn't consider a change." IU instead will “stick with their traditional, understated uniforms -- which include red-and-white candy-striped warm-up pants” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/1).

WHAT IN THE WORLD? In Newark, Steve Politi wrote under the header, “New College Uniforms Have Left Tradition In The Laundry Basket.” The uniforms are ones that “no self-respecting college team should wear.” The shorts look like “something Vanilla Ice’s back-up dancers might have worn in a bad music video.” The colors make the “poor players look like human highlighters, with the exception of the Notre Dame uniforms, which are a distinctive shade of snot” (NJ.com, 2/28). ESPN's Michael Wilbon said, "If you’re running Notre Dame, you’ve got to say, ‘Look, go back to the drawing board. Try again. We’re not going out there in that.’ It looks tie-dyed, something from the ‘70s when somebody was on an LSD trip." ESPN's Tony Kornheiser said, "Those shorts are awful-looking. They are reminiscent of the Zubaz in the 1980’s, which were awful looking" (“PTI,” ESPN, 2/28). ESPN.com’s Paul Lukas wrote the uniform designs feature “vaguely Zubaz-style shorts paired with solid-colored sleeved jerseys -- a brutal look that’s sure to be met with derision from fans and players.” Adding sleeves to a basketball jersey is “an interesting move, but in this case the sleeves almost feel like an afterthought compared to the stripe pattern” (ESPN.com, 2/28). ESPN’s Chris Broussard regarding the uniforms said, “Only the brothers in the south would like that.” The shorts “look like pajama bottoms” ("SportsNation," ESPN2, 2/28). The WALL STREET JOURNAL’s Jason Gay writes under the header, “This New Look Is Madness.” The uniforms are “silly” and the "wrong kind of crazy.” The Notre Dame uniform is “really the piece de resistance.” Gay: “I don't even think of basketball. All I want is a Shamrock Shake” (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 3/1). TIME.com’s Sean Gregory wrote under the header, “March Sadness.” Gregory: “Why would UCLA ever muck with its classic -- and classy -- blue and gold?” (TIME.com, 2/28). In N.Y., Don Burke writes under the header, “March Badness!” (N.Y. POST, 3/1). But ESPN's Tony Reali said, “I like how ugly they are” (“Around The Horn,” ESPN, 2/28).

TWITTER REAX: The new jerseys drew a largely negative response from the Twitter-sphere. ESPN's Darren Rovell wrote, "Adidas NCAA gear being universally panned, maybe more than some of the Maryland Under Armour gear." Sporting News' Ryan Fagan: "Worst shorts: KU and UCLA. Worst overall uni: Notre Dame. Most tolerable: Baylor, Louisville." CBS' Bruce Feldman‏: "New #NotreDame hoops unis look like something Digger would've drawn up." USA Today's Dan Wolken‏: "UCLA is going to basically be wearing Hammer pants in the NCAA Tournament." The Portland Oregonian's John Canzano‏ remarked, "Don't know why but those new Adidas unis make me think MC Hammer ... thinking zebra parachute pants for warm ups." SI's Andy Staples‏: "Nothing makes me think of Waking Up The Echoes or Wooden's Pyramid of Success more than Zubaz." Sporting News' Chris Littmann‏: "Zubaz references in my mentions: 18 and counting." SB Nation's Martin Rickman‏: "adidas giving us the teletubbies-themed college basketball jerseys we always wanted." The Washington Post's Michael Lee‏: "Ugh. Are they ready to ball or go to the beach?" West Virginia Univ. beat writer Patrick Southern‏: "Everything about Adidas' uniform designs continues to be insanely awful." CSN Bay Area's Ray Ratto‏: "I would like to modify and extend my remarks about Warriors' sleeved uniforms to say they could be infinitely worse." Pro Football Talk's Darin Gantt: "Maybe people need to get off my lawn. That's just ugly." ESPN.com's Dana O'Neil‏: "Someone needs to sic Joan Rivers on Adidas and make this annual assault on fashion stop." But SB Nation's Chris Mottram‏ wrote, "It's OK to admit you like things, everyone. The adidas uniforms are fantastic." ESPN Chicago's Jon Greenberg: "What a failure by Adidas as everyone talks about their new uniforms."

TRYING TO KEEP UP WITH THE JONESES: ESPN's Marcellus Wiley said adidas has to "keep up with Under Armour, you’ve got to keep up with Nike." Wiley: "You’ve got to do those kinds of things, and these young kids are so impressionable at this age, all this stuff matters. Even if it’s tacky, it’s different and they like that. ... Whoever is designing this is thinking outside the box” ("SportsNation," ESPN2, 2/28). ESPN's Wilbon said this is a case where adidas is "now having to keep up with Under Armour," which has "forced their hand to where now they have to go out and find the edge and push the envelope” ("PTI," ESPN, 2/28). 
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