Wow. The news just never stops coming out of Evanston. I got blindsided by CNBC & Purple Mafia Member, Darren Rovell’s tweet today. The ‘Cats have reportedly signed on with Under Armour, which will take the place of Adidas as the official Northwestern uniform supplier. This is pretty big news in recruiting circles. Before you “tisk” that comment, consider the fact that college football fashion has become quite the buzz among current and future members of college football teams. For the past 20-years it’s been a consistently increasing intangible for a team’s brand. From Michigan’s Fab 5 baggy shorts to the launch of Brand Jordan teams to the Oregon Ducks’ mix and match outfits to this year’s transcendent visuals of Maryland’s state map being blurted out of a blender on their uniforms, fashion matters in branding. Gary Barnett made the then controversial uniform move, at the encouragement of his Colorado Rockies loving family to add some black to the ‘Cats purple. The move admittedly caught the eye of a couple of recruits, including one of our alltime best defenders, Hudaifa Ismaeli, who said it was one of the first things that resonated with him when seeing us on TV.
I know what you’re thinking – do we want a kid that is making a college decision in part based on the uniform manufacturer? The answer is “maybe”. Think about some of the criteria you used when selecting or not selecting a school – the weather on that day, someone who was rude to you or some other tangental piece of info that subconciously swayed you. The intangible of being an Under Armour school is much more than the tangible uniform, practice gear and other products you’ll use. It’s a statement of a program that you’re leading edge as NU can borrow some brand equity from the brand that has changed the landscape of what was a one-horse landscape (read: Nike) for a long time.
On a sidenote, for my day job we produced the “I Will” campaign for the Big Ten Conference in 2008, a full year plus before Under Armour released its “I Will” campaign. You can be the judge for how similar the Big Ten campaign was. Point is, you can swap out the player shots with updated players to get the same feel for the tone of our new apparrel outfitter.
Nike is still the brand leader in college uniforms, in my opinion, with Oregon as their case study. This past year you saw the most expansive shakeup of traditional uniforms at merchandise powerhouse schools like Ohio State and Michigan along with places like Michigan State introducing the highly popular (among the young) Pro Combat unis. Northwestern even got in to the act with their video game-like purple/grey combo for the night game against Penn State (after an all-black uni look for the Michigan night game). Traditionalists will balk at news like this as petty cosmetic stuff. Those in the trenches know the significance of what this means to the Northwestern Athletic brand. It’s a big deal.
Let the comments and fashion consulting begin!
Season’s Greetings From NU Athletics
If you are in the mode of spreading some Wildcat cheer, be sure to click on this link and share away.
Final Day To Enter LTP ESPN Bowl Mania – Close To Breaking Record Participants!!!!
Speaking of bragging rights, make sure you get your entry in for the 2011 edition of LTP ESPN Bowl Mania. It is very simple. CLICK HERE and follow the simple step-by-step process to pick a winner in all 35 bowl games and place a confidence level (1-35) next to your picks. The highest total wins and will have bragging rights on this board for an entire year. As of this morning we had 118 entrants. Our highwater mark was 137 in 2010. Let’s get 20 more of you procrastinators to lock in today!
Help Move The NU Allotment! SUPPORT FOR JIM – 63 donations and counting!
By now you know the drill. In honor of the passing of Jim Phillip’s father, we’re asking fans to do two simple things. Show your support by CLICKING HERE and donating a ticket to the Texas Bowl in honor of Jim’s father. Second, write a note of support via email and send it to me along with the note on whether or not you donated a ticket and I will guarantee you that I get the message to Jim. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org .
Thanks Jim and please know the entire Northwestern community is with you in support and spirit during this challenging time. For the fans, NU ticket sales are estimated to be at about 6K. That means some 14K of the season ticket holders (at least) have not purchased tickets. If you can’t make it, donate. It’s critical we sellout our allotment for future bowl help.
Support Honor Roll – 63 and counting…
A big shout out to Jack Marshall’s mom who put FOUR donated tickets on the board to get us to 63. I will likely be seeing Jim in person next week and want that 100 number. Badly. Let’s keep it rolling.