Univ. Of Oregon, Nike Continue To Develop Mutually Beneficial Relationship
The relationship between Nike and the Univ. of Oregon is often "criticized as incestuous" and unhealthy, but in a college sports landscape "littered with scandals, probations and lies," the bond between Nike Chair Phil Knight and his alma mater is a functional one, according to John Canzano of the Portland OREGONIAN. Canzano: "It works. Nobody gets hurt. Far as we know, no major rules have been broken because of it." Nike "listens to the market," and UO "listens to Nike." And while the "inherent danger is that the sneaker company relationship is already more valuable to UO than the university-fan relationship, there isn't a college football program in the country that wouldn't trade some admirable honk barbecuing in the parking lot on Saturdays for a chance to look cool for recruits." The school's Rose Bowl uniforms, designed by Nike and "touted as 'the most advanced uniform system ever designed,' had roughly five times the activity" that the Trail Blazers' season-opener had on the Oregonian's website yesterday. The Blazers' home opener "had a typical number of big-game page views," but the uniform unveiling "buried everything else, including the actual coverage of the Jan. 2 game between Wisconsin and Oregon." Nike "used the Ducks on Tuesday, big time." And the "Ducks used Nike," as the unveiling "was covered locally and nationally." Canzano writes, "Nike has done a marvelous job with developing product and staying innovative as times change. But what the company does more than anything else is understand the marketplace. It gets you -- in the simplest manner. And Oregon doesn't try to hide the fact that it's mostly attempted to emulate the Nike mindset when it comes to marketing and promotion" (Portland OREGONIAN, 12/29).
HELMET DESIGN: In Portland, Allen Brettman notes Oregon-based Hydro Graphics Inc. "dipped deeply into its bubbling vat of application techniques to give glittering wings" to the helmets UO will wear during the Rose Bowl. The company "worked for months with Nike, helmet maker Riddell" and UO to achieve the glossy design. As a result, Hydro Graphics "will undoubtedly bolster its growing reputation as Nike's go-to wizard of custom helmet makeover jobs." Nike "began working with the paint coating and finishing company in 2008 to revolutionize the look of football helmets," starting with UO and TCU. Hydro Graphics has since added "about a dozen schools that have the closest business relationships with Nike among the more than 100 colleges and universities licensed to wear Nike gear." Hydro Graphics "has applied Nike-inspired designs to about dozen schools' helmets as well as other manufacturer's products." But it was "only this year, after four years of experimenting, that Hydro Graphics was prepared to introduce the shiny look -- dubbed 'LiquidMetal' -- that will adorn the Ducks' Rose Bowl helmets" (Portland OREGONIAN, 12/29).