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Volume 25 No. 64
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Mississippi State Embracing "Stark Vegas" Moniker With A Little Help From Adidas

Starkville, site of the campus of Mississippi State, has "received a marketing makeover" in recent years, as adidas has helped popularize the nickname "Stark Vegas," a moniker that "rolls off the tongue even if you do not know quite what it means," according to Marc Tracy of the N.Y. TIMES. The term "began regionally as a casual insult to describe a town perceived as a backwater," but Starkville has "slowly co-opted the term." After MSU signed a five-year apparel deal with adidas in '09, company employees "visited the town and started hearing the phrase." adidas then began "using Stark Vegas in campaigns and on apparel over the past couple of years." The MSU football team reached No. 1 in the polls earlier this season, and there were plans "to roll out more Stark Vegas branding this season ... before anyone knew how successful the team would be." adidas Senior Brand & Digital Marketing Manager Jeremy Darlow said, "It's one of those things where you just ride the storm." Tracy noted part of that included adidas unveiling "cleats adorned with Stark Vegas" prior to the Oct. 11 game against Auburn, when ESPN's "College GameDay" made its first trip to Starkville. MSU AD Scott Stricklin said, "We have a brand that traditionally could use some support and some help." Meanwhile, Tracy noted MSU's national profile "has grown exponentially this fall" due to the football team's run. MSU interim Exec Dir of Enrollment John Dickerson said admission and housing applications are up "tremendously." Stricklin added that donations to the athletic department "are up 35 percent." Stricklin: "The branding that we've gotten from this year, as a university, has been phenomenal" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/29).