SBJ/Oct. 21-27, 2013/Colleges

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  • FSU rolls out Bobby Bowden line

    Florida State University and its legendary former football coach, Bobby Bowden, are launching a first-of-its-kind line of T-shirts, hats, a book and other products with a specially designed Bowden logo.

    Bowden had stayed under the radar for most of the past four seasons since he retired. He said he didn’t want to cast a large shadow over new coach Jimbo Fisher.

    But in July, Bowden agreed to a two-year deal with the school for speaking, fundraising and licensing. As part of the deal, FSU acquired the rights to his likeness. This new line of Bowden-inspired merchandise is the school’s first activation since signing Bowden three months ago.

    Bowden makes $250,000 a year for his position as a fundraiser, plus half of the royalties from licensing.

    “He’s a legend here and the fan base adores him,” said Sherri Dye, FSU’s trademark licensing director. “It took us a little while to get everything worked out, but this relationship is something we feel like will have a longevity, similar to the relationship the Bear Bryant family has with Alabama. We wanted to create a line of products that will give fans a way to show their affinity for him.”

    Bowden, one of college football’s winningest coaches in 34 seasons at Florida State, will be recognized before the Seminoles’ game this weekend against North Carolina State. A weekend of events to honor the 83-year-old coach will kick off the first marketing efforts for the merchandise.

    Print advertising, direct mail and social media from FSU also tout the Bowden logo and gear. Cutouts of Bowden and other point-of-sale material will be used in the brick-and-mortar stores.

    The school and Bowden will split the royalties from the sales. The Seminoles’ take is typically 12 percent on licensed merchandise, but based on this agreement, Bowden will receive 10 percent and FSU will get 10 percent of sales. A 20 percent royalty is more common on specialty merchandise, such as an ACC championship or a bowl game, because multiple entities and marks are involved.

    The line will include T-shirts, along with a coffee table book and autographed items.
    T-shirts run $17 to $24, while a Bowden coffee-table book will go for $35. Bowden-autographed gear will stretch up to $700.

    “This is uncharted territory for us and our licensees,” Dye said. “We envision other products being added, but we’re starting off conservatively to see how things sell.”

    Florida State worked with its licensing agent, Collegiate Licensing Co., to identify a small group of licensees that could deliver on a tight timeline of just a few months. Of the Seminoles’ 500 licensees, about a dozen were used for the Bowden products.

    “What we looked for were the best-in-class licensees who could meet the tight turnaround time,” said John Greeley, senior vice president of partner services at CLC.

    Some of the products have begun to show up on Florida State’s official website, Seminoles.com, where the school has created a page dedicated to “The Legend Returns.” In addition to the official website, school bookstore and FSU-specific retailers, such as GarnetandGold.com, Bowden-licensed product will be sold regionally at Dick’s Sporting Goods, Academy Sports & Outdoors, Lids and Wal-Mart. Fanatics operates the FSU team shop at Seminoles.com.



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