Marketing and Sponsorship
The college football season is here, and while schools like Oregon and Maryland will likely draw headlines for their on-field fashion sense, there will be a new fall line appearing in the stands. Outside of the traditional garb, there are several alternative styles that are sure to turn heads on campuses across the country.
BOOT SCOOTIN' BOOGIE: A common fashion at football tailgates and games is boots, and after seeing the amount of enthusiasm for college sports in her home state, Austin-based boot designer Marsha Wright created Gameday Boots. The company was formed in April ’10 and Wright took her designs to various retailers to gain some interest. Gameday Boots immediately received agreements from nearly 20 schools, including Texas Tech, Texas A&M and Arkansas. The boots began selling last September, and the company now has licensing agreements with 78 schools. Three of the top five sellers are from the SEC, with Alabama taking the number one spot. The Crimson Tide are followed by Clemson, South Carolina, Auburn and Texas. Gameday Boots Sales & Operations Manager Jeff Green said, “These are people that are going to pay $60 for a piece of cheese on their head. … There’s tremendous support not only from the student base, but also from the alumni, the grandparents, parents.” Both men’s and women’s boots are priced at $399. Green noted the company set a sales goal of $1.4M, but it is on track to reach nearly $2.6M for its first year in business. He said, “The boots just hit a niche because it’s fashion and it’s fun.” Gameday Boots are carried through boot-specific stores Cavender’s and Sheppler’s but can also be found at Barnes & Noble on-campus locations, Belk’s and Fanatics.com.
LET ME HEAR IT LOUD: Loudmouth has quietly launched a line of college-themed pants, shorts and skirts. The company last year debuted apparel for Tennessee and had a handful of schools signed on through its licensing deal with CLC. In the past couple of months, Loudmouth has moved to significantly increase its roster of clients. The S.F.-based company now boosts a men’s and women’s line of about 20 colleges, including Kentucky, UConn and Morehead State. SEC schools top sales of the collection, with UT’s Rocky Top pattern heading the list. Loudmouth CEO Larry Jackson said the NCAA gear makes up more than 50% of the brand’s online made-to-order sales. Jackson said the company hopes to double the number of schools carried by the end of this football season, with an argyle pattern for Florida and prints including Florida State, USC and Notre Dame. The gear is available on Loudmouth’s website as well as in select college bookstores. A handful of schools were hesitant to sign on with the company that first drew acclaim from its deal with golfer John Daly. Jackson said, “Texas turned us down about nine months ago. So I’m going to give them about a year to wait and then reapply and send them all the other schools’ gear.”
FANCY PANTS: Pennington & Bailes is known for its signature stadium pants that feature teams’ logos, and after launching in ’05 with licenses for five southern colleges, the company opens the ’12 season featuring 50 different schools. Despite being a small, family owned-company, Florida-based Pennington & Bailes has seen great growth and continues to expand its brand, having just signed deals with Notre Dame, Texas A&M and Missouri. The company also has expanded its product line to include women and children’s apparel. Prices range from $68 for a little girl’s dress to $135 for men’s pants and can be found at higher-end specialty stores, as well as online. As with Gameday Boots and Loudmouth, P&B's top sellers can be found in the SEC, with South Carolina, Florida, Alabama and LSU at the top of the list. The brand in '10 launched its shirt line, “The Coach’s Shirt," which was designed specifically for South Carolina football coach Steve Spurrier. Company co-Founder Tygh Bailes said, “That has been a very good seller for us and we’re continuing to expand that line.”
Looking to boost sales of its NFL-licensed stickers, Panini America is teaming with the N.Y. Daily News for a promotion that will distribute 2.4 million sticker sheets and more than 14 million stickers inside copies of the newspaper's Sunday edition over the next month. Starting this Sunday, copies of the Daily News will include sticker sheets featuring two Jets players, two NFL Giants players and two players from a Giants/Jets opposing team each week. Players include the Jets' Mark Sanchez, Darrelle Revis, Tim Tebow and Santonio Holmes, as well as the Giants' Eli Manning, Victor Cruz, Justin Tuck, Ahmad Bradshaw and Osi Umenyiora. The promo will be supported with ads in the Daily News and on DailyNews.com, along with radio and point-of-sale. Modell’s and 7-Eleven will be giving away Panini NFL Sticker Albums.
NASCAR team Owner Richard Petty said that his Richard Petty Motorsports “will remain a part of the Sprint Cup Series in 2013 despite a loss of manufacturer money and limited sponsorship.” Petty said that he “hopes to have a new deal with Ford in the next three weeks," but he acknowledged that it "probably won't be as good financially since much of the manufacturer's money that went to RPM is going to Penske Racing.” Petty said that RPM “currently has enough sponsorship to put two Cup cars on the track next year.” Petty: "Right now, everything we've got going is in the air, just like it has been the last three or four years" (ESPN.com, 8/30).
WELCOME ABOARD: In Boston, Ira Kantor notes Virgin Atlantic is a first-time sponsor at this weekend’s Deutsche Bank Championship and the company has “landed an ‘Eagle’s Nest’ club near TPC Boston’s 17th green." Virgin's club at the golf course is "decked out with actual first-class and economy seats, cocktail tables, a London-style phone booth and flight attendants to keep the U.K.-based airline’s popular Virgin Redhead cocktails flowing.” The 900-square-foot club on Friday is hosting a party that will be “invite-only to bank and ticketed VIPs.” But “any of the top 100 PGA golfers" competing in the tournament "can stop by” (BOSTON HERALD, 8/31).
ROUNDUP: Prince Global Sports renewed its partnership with tennis player John Isner, who will continue to use the company’s racquet and wear Prince footwear (Prince)….The Big 12 has launched a new branding campaign and created several PSAs featuring the conference’s coaches, mascots and athletes (Big 12).