Notre Dame’s resurgence on the football field this year has paid dividends with e-commerce specialist Fanatics.com. The Fighting Irish has been the site's top seller since Aug. 30 -- when the college football season began -- while Alabama is second, followed by Oregon, Ohio State and Florida. Notre Dame sales are up 232% since Aug. 30, marking the top increase among colleges on Fanatics.com. Since the BCS bowl matchups were announced on Dec. 2, the school with the best sales percentage increase compared to the same dates last year is Northern Illinois at 304%. The MAC-champion Huskies will take on Florida State in the Orange Bowl on New Year’s Day. Of the 35 bowl games that will be played between Saturday and the National Championship game on Jan. 7, 27 games will include a school that has its online store run by Fanatics Retail Group -- including Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas, Florida State and Oregon.
Marketing and Sponsorship
Under Armour Senior On-Field Senior Design Manager Adam Clement recently discussed the "controversial flag-based design" football uniforms for the Univ. of Maryland in a two-part Q&A with Paul Lukas of ESPN.com. Below is an excerpt from the Q&A.
Q: When we were kids growing up, a team had two, maybe three uniforms -- home, road, and alternate. Now a team like Maryland can wear a different uniform almost every week. ... Overall, is this a good thing or a bad thing, and why?
Clement: I think it's a little of both. It's exciting, because it allows teams to explore and express themselves in ways they wouldn't normally have done. It helps garner interest from younger fans, and it can attract student-athletes. But at the same time, I respect people who say it's a bad thing, because there are lots of people who grew up seeing these teams with specific colors and specific looks.
Q: You've worked with Auburn. Obviously, they're a more traditional school, at least in terms of football, and they've chosen to stick with their classic look. I know you guys have pitched them several modern designs, which they've turned down. Have you worked on those, and is that frustrating when a team wants to stick with what it already has?
Clement: In some respects, it can be refreshing when a team has so much tradition that it wants to stick with that, and that's perfectly OK with us. As a brand that wants to be progressive, we're always going to be offering those options to all of our universities, but it's entirely up to them.
Q: How closely do you keep tabs on what Nike, adidas and the other companies are doing?
Clement: I think it's fair to say that everyone in this industry is very up-to-date on what everyone else is doing -- in part because it's a business, but also because we're all passionate about it.
Q: Give me a hint of something juicy that's in the pipeline.
Clement: We have something special in store for the University of South Florida. That's a program that we believe is on the upswing, and they've decided that they want to be progressive, so we have something special in store. It's not for every day, but it's special. You'll see it within the next 12 months (ESPN.com, 12/13).
Q: The common perception is that [UA President, Chair & CEO Kevin] Plank, Under Armour and Maryland are essentially copying Phil Knight, Nike and Oregon, in terms of the relationship between the company and its founder to the founder's alma mater and the use of outrageous design for that school. How do you feel about that?
Clement: I understand why people would feel that way, since Kevin attended Maryland and Phil Knight attended Oregon. But it's not a copycat thing. Kevin wants us to do the best we can with every school. But he was no more involved with the Maryland design than he was with, say, the Northwestern design that we did for this season. So I understand why that perception exists, but that's not how it works (ESPN.com, 12/12).
Nike on Wednesday said that it is “taking over as sponsor of the United Soccer League three years after the company sold its majority stake in the minor league circuit.” In Portland, Erik Siemers noted Nike “inherited ownership of the USL" in '07 when it acquired U.K.-based Umbro, "which held a 98 percent stake in the league.” Nike “divested its stake” in the USL in August ‘09 to Atlanta-based NuRock Soccer Holdings, "though the Umbro brand stayed on as the league's primary sponsor.” Nike subsequently sold Umbro to Iconix Brand Group in a $225M deal “that closed earlier this month, prompting Nike to shift over and become USL's primary sponsor” (BIZJOURNALS.com, 12/12).
COMING TO AMERICA: MARKETING magazine’s John Reynolds reported EPL club Tottenham Hotspur has “earmarked developing the football club's brand in the US as a key priority by targeting its portfolio of sponsors and its US support base through marketing initiatives.” Tottenham Int'l Business Development Senior Manager Aidan Mullally said, "We see the US as our number one priority." The club “went on a pre-season tour of the US this year,” visiting L.A., Baltimore and N.Y., and a “number of the club's sponsors are US companies," including HP, EA Sports, and Under Armour. The club said that it has “around six million fans in the US” (MARKETINGMAGAZINE.co.uk, 12/12).
FOR KICKS: PR WEEK’s John Owens reported Puma is “planning to ratchet up its share in the increasingly competitive soccer market by targeting youngsters through the brand's big-name soccer stars.” The company has “picked Clifford French as its retained UK and Ireland agency covering football following a three-way pitch process.” The appointment, replacing “incumbent Mercieca, will involve the agency using a trio of stars -- and their respective soccer shoe deals -- to appeal to young fans.” Puma in the campaign will “use its links" with EPL club Manchester City F Sergio Agüero and MF Yaya Touré, as well as La Liga club FC Barcelona MF Cesc Fàbregas (PRWEEKUS.com, 12/12).
In N.Y., Stuart Elliott notes former NHLer Sean Avery is “involved in the campaign for the Stuart Weitzman line for spring and summer 2013, which will bring in the supermodel Kate Moss as the brand’s new face.” After Avery previewed the Weitzman ads, the Lipman agency “previewed a print and video campaign for another client, 7 for All Mankind jeans, that is to be introduced in February.” Avery will “appear in the campaign, sporting in some ads, through makeup, the kinds of black eye and cut lip emblematic of his previous career” (N.Y. TIMES, 12/14).
HOME GOODS: MARKETING DAILY’s Karl Greenberg noted the NFL has launched a homegating campaign “to promote the licensed products" it sells on NFLShop.com. The league also tapped actress Holly Robinson Peete, wife of former NFLer Rodney Peete, to launch the campaign, which “promotes things like countertop cooking appliances, NFL team-branded serving accoutrements and containers, crock pots, cutting boards, beer steins and wine glasses.” The campaign, via Grey, N.Y., also was part of the NFL "Fit for You Style Lounges" (MEDIAPOST.com, 12/11).
FASHION STATEMENT: ESPN.com’s Austin Ward reported “every member” of the Ohio State football staff has to wear a “unique letterman's jacket” when they are out recruiting. The attention the jacket is receiving “on sidelines across the country obviously doesn't hurt as the Buckeyes spread the word about their resurgent program.” The jackets are “almost impossible to miss -- and with only 14 of them currently in existence, they're as unique as they are attracting to the eye” (ESPN.com, 12/12).