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Volume 21 No. 6
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CLC sees real returns from the virtual world

Collegiate Licensing Co. has put its seal of approval on everything from T-shirts to urns and coffins over the past 30 years. Now it’s licensing products that don’t actually exist.

CLC has moved aggressively into the virtual entertainment and gaming world, and the Atlanta-based division of IMG College last month worked with San Francisco social-gaming company Zynga to launch college-licensed items in CityVille, the popular Facebook app that draws 54 million players per month, according to That makes it the No. 1 social game on Facebook.

Gamers can outfit their avatars with college-licensed goods on Xbox Live.
Photo by: Disruptive Publishing
CLC also has licensed virtual hats, shirts and other items that gamers on Xbox Live can purchase to outfit their avatars, which are the virtual figures that represent the users. Vancouver-based Disruptive Publishers is CLC’s partner on that venture, as well as the sale of virtual goods on PlayStation 3.

The best-selling schools through Disruptive are Oklahoma, Notre Dame, Texas, West Virginia and Michigan.
In the month that college-licensed items have been for sale in CityVille, the top sellers have been Alabama, Clemson, Boston College, East Carolina and Boise State.

Close to 60 schools have their marks available and more will be added.

Dave Kirkpatrick, vice president of non-apparel marketing at CLC, said this new era of personalization has provided the company and its client schools with new revenue from the social networking category.

“We had been approached by a number of virtual world companies wanting to see if CLC or the schools would pay to have virtual accessories in their games,” Kirkpatrick said. “But that didn’t fit with our model and we didn’t think there was the control that our schools require. But we’ve kept looking and found the right fit and the right model.”

Kirkpatrick said it’s too early to tell how CityVille will affect revenue for CLC and its client schools, but “the early adoption rate of the college feature has been very strong. Zynga has indicated that they want to scale out with more schools and concepts. Other [virtual] programs have been pretty modest, but we think this has the potential to provide a significant revenue stream.”

In addition to Facebook, CityVille also is played on other platforms, such as Google+, MySpace and Yahoo!, as well as tablet and mobile devices. Zynga is working with Tencent, a Web company in China, to take the game there.
In CityVille, gamers can now stamp their favorite college marks on goods that they buy. Royalties from those sales are paid back to the schools, just as they are for actual T-shirts and hats.

Among the licensed goods that are sold in CityVille are clock towers, libraries, dorms and sports stadiums. Those items have a generic look to them and are not specific to a school’s campus. The college logos are purchased and placed on the virtual building.

“CityVille is Zynga’s biggest social game, and a big part of that is personalization,” said Scott Koenigsberg, general manager of CityVille. “Giving players a chance to build college-themed items allows fans the chance to express themselves in new ways.”

In the first two weeks after launch in early October, CityVille players began constructing 10 million college buildings, and once the buildings are finished, collegiate logos can be purchased for about $1 apiece.

Those items are used to build a user’s urban city or they can be given as gifts to Facebook friends.

These logos give colleges an important presence and brand extension into the social networking space.

“The overall branding from this provides terrific exposure for the universities and it doesn’t pigeonhole you with certain demographics,” Kirkpatrick said. “All ages are playing social games.”

EA Sports also used the social medium to market “NCAA Football 2012.” The game’s Facebook page drew 140,000 new fans in four weeks of its “You Want Me” voting to determine the cover athlete, which former Alabama running back Mark Ingram won.