Texas is the new brand

I had previously blogged about the profitability of Texas' football program and I ran across an article recently predicting merchandise revenues would double this year. I attributed all this to three things. First and foremost the national championship win. Second, the fact that Texas has nearly half a million living alumni, more than any other university. And third, biggest Texas has one of the largest student populations in the country. Well I recently moved to New York and now I have to add a fourth reason that may come ahead of the previous three. 

I have a buddy from Northern California who goes to school with me at Texas. The question often comes up why he decided to come to school here and he always talks about how he thought Austin was a cool city and he thought it'd be different. But he also mentions how it wasn't as out of the blue as you might think and that his friends from high school always wore Texas stuff and after they started college they would always ask him to bring home hats and shirts.

With that in the back of my head, fast forward to last weekend when I was walking through a mall in Albany, New York and I passed by a Lids hat store. I was suprised that a stack of burnt orange Texas hats caught my eye. I was amazed at how decked out the college section of the store was with Texas hats. I counted 17 unique styles of Texas hats at a Lids in Albany, NY. Burnt Orange on White, White on Burnt Orange, White on Black, Burnt Orange on Black, White on White, etc. And it wasn't as if they just had a wide array of hats from every school. Notre Dame and Michigan were basically the only other schools in between the coasts with hats. Not a single Ohio State or Oklahoma hat which surprised me because both were big state schools whose sports programs have been successful. And in case you're wondering no other Texas school was represented.

This is when I realized what the real reason was for the boom in revenue. It wasn't as much the population of fans or the success on the field, Ohio State and Oklahoma has both. It was THE BRAND.

Just like people all over the country for the past decade have sported Michigan and North Carolina gear not because they were fans necessarily but more because it was a brand. The fact that those universities are popular and successful are part of what makes that brand so they aren't totally independent but just because you have the numbers and the success doesn't make it a given that the brand will sell.

The Collegiate Licensing Company which enforces the merchandising licenses for colleges puts out a ranking of the Top 50 selling universities. How did that list pan out for the 2004-2005 school year? #1 UNC, #2 Michigan, #3 Texas. If the forecasts are right that Texas' merchandise sales will double this year I can't imagine that list staying as it is.

This past Saturday night I watched the Mavs take Game 6 from the Suns at the ESPNZone in Times Square. Again, people all over the place with the Texas brand. And I'm really not delusional in the way of thinking that these people were even Texas fans. My point is they wear the brand just as I used to wear a red UNC hat. I never cheered for UNC a day in my life (well, okay I almost wet my pants when they won they NC last year resulting in a huge payday for me).

This sporting of a brand solely for the sake of the brand would annoy some people. Aggies in particular seem to get annoyed when people root on a college program with which they are in no way affiliated. To me gettin angry over that is just plain ignorant. Support is support, am I wrong?

I think what I am more excited about than anything is that for the first time in my life I have a wardrobe full of the new, hottest brand. 😉



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