SBJ/Aug. 25-31, 2014/Colleges

Retailers buy into CLC College Colors platform

Gary Dubiel walked the floor at the massive, two-story Barnes & Noble in Baton Rouge, La., last week, impressed by the square footage the bookstore had devoted to LSU gear.

Underneath a purple and gold tent were logo chairs, wine glasses, Tervis tumblers, car flags, T-shirts and just about anything else a licensee could make with the Tigers’ marks.

Dubiel is in his second year as the vice president of retail development for Atlanta-based Collegiate Licensing Co. His job is to introduce licensees to retailers, such as Wal-Mart, Target, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Sports Authority and Kohl’s — stores that Dubiel hopes will prominently display CLC’s college gear, especially this time of year.

“The back-to-school period is our biggest promotional time,” said Dubiel, who joined
CLC after years of working on the licensee side for Russell Athletics and others.

This college football season marks the 10th year of CLC’s College Colors Day, which designates the Friday of the first college football weekend as the day to wear college colors. “Back to school” had always provided a sales boost, but College Colors Day gave CLC an annual marketing platform with TV and online advertising, special point-of-
purchase displays, and celebrity endorsers. It’s not uncommon now to see artists such as Brad Paisley taking the stage in college gear as a promotional tool for the platform.

Dubiel said extending distribution for the licensees of CLC’s 200-plus college clients is the chief objective.

Bringing the Stage Stores group and its 900 stores, which include Peebles and Goody’s outlets, into the mix this year stands as one of CLC’s big wins for 2014. Kohl’s activation across 490 stores is another new chain in the College Colors Day promotion. CLC said more than 12,000 store locations are participating with in-store signage and online awareness, such as College Colors Day banner advertising. Online advertising on ESPN.com and print ads in ESPN The Magazine are promoting the day as well.

Sales through the first three weeks in August show that the supercenter stores — Wal-Mart, Sam’s Club, Target, Meijer and others — are seeing the biggest gains, with sales up by nearly 20 percent over last year, Dubiel said. The big sporting goods channels — Dick’s, Academy, Sports Authority — are pushing double-digit growth as well.

The bigger stores that can devote ample floor space to displays — like the Barnes & Noble in Baton Rouge — tend to move more product, Dubiel said.

For some of the larger retailers, CLC has created unique marketing platforms for its point-of-purchase displays. Wal-Mart, for example, encourages shoppers to wear their “Saturday Best,” while Dick’s uses a “Saturday Ritual” tag line.
“Sometimes we will separate out a slogan because not every retailer wants what every other retailer has or wants,” Dubiel said.

New to the program this year is a sweepstakes that will send two fans to the College Football Playoff championship game in North Texas. Entries will be accepted through Thursday night.

“This is the first time we’ve had a consumer contest,” Dubiel said. “It gives us one more way to reach our consumers and fans.”

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