Some have complained about WVU’s current football season. Some squawked after the Mountaineer men’s basketball team struggled in its opener.
But one thing WVU fans can never complain about is the Mountaineer athletic department’s effectiveness in marketing.
Since moving to that profession, I see the department’s skill much more clearly than when I worked for newspapers. Executive Senior Associate Athletics Director Matt Wells and team are simply outstanding.
Sometimes, though, it’s difficult to understand marketing moves and deals, especially when it comes to Name, Image and Likeness (NIL). It’s a new age. Some, understandably, get lost or just give up trying to follow.
On Tuesday, though, WVU cut loose of an announcement detailing a significant deal. And it’s worth understanding.
The deal further shows how the athletic department isn’t fighting but embracing NIL and trying to help Mountaineer athletes not only to maneuver the maze but increase profitability.
In sum, via a release, “WVU and The Brandr Group established a group licensing agreement for the university’s student-athletes covering all the Mountaineers’ 18 varsity sports. This partnership creates new opportunities for West Virginia’s student-athletes to profit off their Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) using the school’s official trademarks and logos.”
After a quote from AD Shane Lyons, the release continued by saying this:
“The partnership with The Brandr Group allows for the collective use of student-athletes’ NIL in licensing and marketing programs, co-branded with the Mountaineers’ logos and marks. Student-athletes will have the option to voluntarily join a group licensing program. TBG will facilitate group licensing opportunities on behalf of the student-athletes, and the program does not limit individual NIL rights.”
If you got a little lost there, well, so did I, so I reached out to Wells and asked him to put it in layman’s terms. He kindly obliged.
“Partnering with The Brandr Group provides a new opportunity to WVU student-athletes (S-As) to benefit from their name, image and likeness in the group licensing space,” Wells said. “Group licensing is defined as three or more athletes from one sport or six or more from the department.
“The Brandr Group (TBG) will represent our S-As and will work with WVU approved licensees to combine the use of approved WVU marks with the NIL of our S-As on officially licensed merchandise and products. Common examples include but aren’t limited to jerseys, shirts, posters, trading cards and video games. TBG has become an industry leader in group licensing across the college athletics industry. In addition to WVU, they are currently partnered with North Carolina, Texas, Indiana, Oklahoma State and many other schools. TBG has also been involved for years in group licensing deals for professional athletes through partnerships with the MLB, NBA and NFL players associations.
“Unlike pro sports, student-athletes don’t have a players association to set up group licensing opportunities, so TBG fills the void by utilizing their partnerships with licensees to bring opportunities to S-As at the campus level.”
As I wrote, it’s a significant deal.
“Using football as an example, there are 125 or so football players on every campus so a licensee would never be able to work thru the process to sign individual deals with potentially thousands of players,” Wells said. “This deal allows our players who decide to opt in to the program (important note: it is a voluntary program, no requirement to join) an opportunity to have deals presented for their consideration using their name, image and likeness on officially licensed merchandise.”
Wells said WVU “saw this opportunity as a beneficial one to our student-athletes and our fans.”
Yes, it’s helping WVU’s athletic department. But it’s also giving the student-athletes a toolbox – as well as the important ability to pair their name or image with the school’s official trademarks and logos. That’s significant.
It’s creative marketing. And WVU is very, very good at it.
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