Nike has been very good for the University of Oregon. The world’s leading athletic apparel designer took measures to re-brand the school’s athletic image, with a new logo and a commitment to top-of-the-line football uniforms and more. During this new venture by Nike it may not be much of a coincidence that Oregon has risen to the top of the Pac 12 and become a national power in the sport of college football, reaching the BCS Championship Game and two Rose Bowls each of the past three seasons during the most successful run in Ducks program history.
Now Nike wants to extend the olive branch to Oregon State, if the school is willing to accept some new ideas.
Nike vice president of design and special projects Tinker Hatfield, a former Oregon track and field star who helped spearhead Nike’s efforts with Oregon, is hoping Oregon State will welcome Nike’s help in an attempt to duplicate some of the success Oregon has had at the other big-time program in the state of Oregon.
“We’ve explained we’d like to go outside the contract and do special things for Oregon State, too,” Hatfield says in a report by the Portland Tribune. Hatfield understands that some within the Oregon State community may be a bit hesitant to receive Nike’s help, which could be seen as a sign of copying a rival institution’s formula. But some are warming up to the idea.
“I feel I need to refresh everybody from where I come,” Hatfield says. “I’m not just a Duck; I’m an Oregonian. I grew up by Corvallis. The real truth is there are probably as many Beavers working at Nike as there are Ducks.
“There’s been a lot of interest from Oregon State, but also some trepidation about, ‘We don’t want to be just like Oregon.’ I’d like to allay some concerns about whether we are so Duck-centric we can’t do anything with them.”
Nike has worked with Oregon State before beyond the normal relationships of their athletic contract, designing a Pro Combat uniform for the football team for the 2010 season. Perhaps Oregon State should take notice on how Nike’s re-branding efforts have gone elsewhere as well, besides just Oregon.
Last season Nike initiated a re-branding effort for Arizona State and Oklahoma State, with a full line of new uniforms from head to toe, with multiple combinations and in Arizona State’s case a new athletic logo. The reaction has been largely positive from fans and alumni, as well as general fans around the country, perhaps more so for Arizona State than Oklahoma State. Either way, Nike continues to find ways t put programs in the mindset of the casual fans from coast to coast, and that says something.
Oregon’s formula is not always duplicated successfully. Maryland attempted to re-brand their football program by creating a similar identity when it came to uniforms, but it was more ridiculed than anything else. Maryland’s uniforms were designed by Under Armour, which has a similar relationship with Maryland that Oregon has with Nike.
Nike’s track record is a solid one thought, and their creativity with jerseys has been more respectable over the past year than it has been in some recent years overall. For Oregon State, this appears to be an opportunity worth exploring.