Back in August, Nebraska football unveiled the all-white alternate uniforms which were worn against Northwestern last Saturday.
— Nebraska Football (@HuskerFBNation) August 23, 2016
As players’ jaws dropped, they took to Twitter to express their approval. Fans, recruits and media outlets followed suit with no shortage of diamond and snowflake emojis. What did every single one of the tweets, retweets and features written also include? The adidas logo.
Social media has proven sports fans are deeply interested in what their favorite players and teams will be wearing on the field. Brands and programs are responding by providing their players with a) an increasing amount of uniform options to tout and b) engaging content to announce the endless combinations on social media.
Week four in college football pitted team against team, and brand against brand. As the Huskers took the field in all white adidas gear, Northwestern and Under Armor were not to be outdone as the Wildcats strolled out in all black alternate uniforms.
We got #B1GCats – Huskers under the lights at Ryan Field tonight.
And we are dressing accordingly. pic.twitter.com/NziF88u6BS
— #B1GCats Football (@NUFBFamily) September 24, 2016
The brand landscape in college football has become hugely important. It is why brands like Nike are shelling out huge amounts of cash in deals with teams like Michigan, which became the first Jordan-clad football school this August. The deal Nike struck with Michigan is worth $169 million.
Social media has intensified the jockeying for position we see from brands and collegiate properties.
Using Twitter and Instagram as platforms for uniform releases has proven to be a formula that works for brands and teams alike. For brands, these releases provide massive impressions counts, fan engagement and, if done well, a flurry of earned media coverage. For schools, the releases provide fanbase engagement, an opportunity to tell their brand’s story, and another recruiting tool.
Nike and its flagship college football program Oregon are a perfect case study. Why is it that every time Oregon and Nike release a new kit it generates conversation, despite it being a weekly occurrence?
— Oregon Football (@WinTheDay) September 22, 2016
It is creative content like this that allows Oregon to continue to dominate conversation on social media week in and week out. Naturally the uniform release garnered the attention of national media outlets like ESPN.
The @ESPN account, @SportsCenter and @ESPNCFB tweeted pictures of the uniforms to their combined 61 million followers. Those three tweets alone generated more than 10k retweets combined.
Adding yet another wrinkle to its recruiting and social strategy, Oregon has tapped top high school targets to release the uniforms for them on Twitter. As reported by oregonlive.com, the Ducks sent pictures of the uniforms with the recruits’ name on the jersey for the targets to tweet out.
— Jeremiah Holloman (@Obey_Classics) September 16, 2016
What has been so effective for Oregon is not just the new uniforms, but the creative ways in which the school is pushing them out.
In a conversation with opendorse, Jeremy Darlow, director of brand marketing for adidas football and baseball, talked about the influence he believes collegiate properties have on social media.
“It’s all about consistency and it’s all about frequency,” Darlow said. “You do those two things – you speak to one thing over and over again – it’s going to stick.”
Uniform releases are engaging content no doubt, but the challenge now for collegiate properties and brands will be positioning themselves in the cluttered landscape of college football.