Having worked in four different athletic departments, it is rare to be in a place that is always thinking what's next. We wore pink helmets this year. How many schools would be willing to wear pink helmets and how many would be received the way ours were?
Yes that Heisman campaign was the starting point. It got people's attention. It didn't matter if people like it or not. What's the old line about there's no such thing as bad publicity?
But as I said that campaign HAD to sync up with football success or it might have busted. You had to marry the two.
It just so happened to coincide with the start of what has been a great run.
The amazing thing is that Oregon rode this campaign without ever making a Rose Bowl in the Bellotti era (of course Ducks would have gone if not for Rose Bowl having to host Miami-Neb in 2001 title game).
Oregon FB has become equal to INNOVATION - form the duck to the O, to wearing pink helmets and cleats that change color to an entire nation wondering what's next?
I don't think I am influenced by marketing campaigns, but I bet that I am. Isn't that the whole idea?
The challenge is to keep pushing and being different and fresh when all the impersonators are a step behind you. OF will continue to define the futre.
Oregon, with Phil Knight, had a big advantage to upgrade facilities and take advantage of the things that UCLA and USC did not have. The SoCal facilities were sub-standard. UCLA practiced on an 80-yard field. Still does. USC's facilities were shockingly lacking for a program of its stature. California was a mess....
Our facilities were average prior to a lot of the construction that took place. We had the first indoor practice facility on the West Coast, opening the Moshofsky Center in 1998. In 2002 we expanded Autzen Stadium bringing capacity to just over 54K. Eight years ago we built a state of the art treatment center for student-athletes. We have built the best academic support center in the country in the Jaqua Academic Center for Student-Athletes. Matthew Knight Arena, the best college only basketball arena in the country and then recently the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex. Not to mention we have Historic Hayward Field the most iconic track venue in the world.
How influential/supportive was Phil Knight in this initiative?
Oregon facilities now are jaw-dropping. Envy of the nation. You've come a long way, baby.
Through the generosity of Phil and Penny Knight, the University has built facilities that focus on student-athletes including the treatment center, the Jaqua Academic Center and now this building. This commitment to student-athletes has led to unparalleled success at the University of Oregon.
Let's keep in mind the bold contrast of the clean and Iconic evolution of the primary identity / logo "O" with all of the innovative development and exciting colors around it. Not everything needed to scream to make statement.
Ed has a great point on the "O" The Oregon O, first used in 2001, was designed by Nike in collaboration with the university. It has since grown beyond representing athletics at Oregon and in 2003, became the school’s official mark. The inside of the O represents the oval at Hayward and the outside is Autzen from an overview.
It never hurts having a billionaire on board who attended the school. Having that guy be the founder of NIKE was off the charts. It wasn't hard to put that marketing puzzle together. Oregon could become the extension of what NIKE did with Michael Jordan, Tiger and Bo Jackson. It was a harmonic convergence!
Ed, is this kind of holistic approach with logos common with brands? It must be hard to find the connection sometimes, right?
Harmonic convergence. Learn it, love it, live it.
Again, Oregon has taken the lead with many other schools following suit with simpler, more iconic marks.
It is the aspiration always, but rarely achieved with this level of success. And yes, billionaires help!
The fact that NIKE was founded here and that we have always been a beta tester for product development is crucial to our success. It isn't just the look, its the innovation behind the products we wear.
And now we get to the mother's milk of college football: Recruiting. How have the new facilities helped in that area? What impact have they had on the perception of Oregon at the national level?
We do compete nationally for recruits. We have had unparalleled success on the field because of outstanding coaches and outstanding players.
Oregon forced every school to rethink the way it does business. It upped the ante for other Pac 12 schools like UCLA to understand you can't just sell sand and sunshine. Everyone now has Oregon as a model. The increase in broadcast money has certainly helped the former money have-nots (Wazzu) try to keep up.
I think EVERY Pac 12 school now has pretty good to excellent facilities. Thank you, Eugene.
Tradition has a scary mascot. Tradition wears three colors. Tradition practices at "half speed." Tradition milks the clock. Tradition punts on fourth down. Tradition eats turkey on Thanksgiving. TRADITION NEVER CHANGES. CHAMPIONS DO.
More and more, the internal brand experience with internal stakeholders is a key brand strategy...this is certainly the case with these incredible facilities and recruits are blown away when they visit - increasing recruitment rates.
Our facilities often are talked about and rightly so. However, all of our buildings have focused on the student-athlete experience. We want to be able to provide the absolute best for our student-athletes, knowing that if you come here we will do everything we can to enrich your experience in the classroom, community and on the field of play.
I was at Nike during the Pac-12 research project and one of the more memorable quotes from that esteemed group was "it's more important to be different, than to be better."
Why change the uniforms so radically? Whose decision was it and what was the goal in doing so?
It was HUGE in recruiting, of course. The uniforms plus the facilities were gold. But, just as important I think, was melding that into a style of play that matched the buzz. Mike Bellotti realized saw the rise of the hurry-up spread years in advance. He told me so personally several times. He knew he was not the man to implement it so he went out and found an unknown from New Hampshire. Kelly I believe was his name.
It was really part of the rebrand of Oregon Athletics. Tinker Hatfield and Michael Doherty from NIKE were there are the beginning along with Jim Bartko from our staff. The goal was to have the most innovative uniforms and technology available. It just so happened they also looked different and were designed to attract the younger demographic.
Oregon football and Nike have made uniforms fashion, therefore change is necessary. Also it expresses the innovative base of the relationship and the products and services. Again, it keep everyone asking "What's next?"
I would say it worked. Our uniforms have become fashion week every Saturday.
The Rose Bowl helmet was#1 trending worldwide for 30 minutes on twitter in the Rose Bowl against Wisconsin.
Funny uniform story. I remember seeing Oregon president David Frohnmayer at a BCS meeting one year right after Oregon had broken out some mustard colored unis. I thought they were ugly and told the Pres that. He just laughed and said "The kids love them." Boy was he right.
I don't think this would be as successful a concept if it hadn't been rooted in a clean, iconic mark - that is the anchor to this program IMO.