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Say It Ain’t So: Ole Miss Sells Space on Helmet to Uni Advertiser

We’ve all been so focused on uniform ads in the major pro sports that many of us — myself included, I admit — haven’t thought much about whether uni ads might be coming to college sports.

We now have our answer, as Ole Miss today announced that their helmet for this Saturday’s game against Kentucky will feature a new camouflage design created by the hunting brand Realtree (whose founder and CEO, Bill Jordan, is an Ole Miss alum and played football for the school in the 1970s). Although you can’t see the brand’s logo in the photo shown above, you can see it in this next shot, to the right of the “Ole”:

In addition, the company name appears on the straps of the chinstrap, and its antler-style logo appears on the chinstrap cup:

We’ve seen corporate logos on uniforms for college football bowl games for years, of course. But has any NCAA team, in any sport, even had a third-party ad for a regular season game, like Ole Miss is doing here? I can’t think of a comparable example. Anyone..?

Also, the school is selling a new line of co-branded Realtree merch. It’s not yet clear to me if this is strictly for retail or if coaches and other sideline personnel will be wearing it for Saturday’s game.

Is this as bad as some of the big, honking uni ad patches we’ve seen? No, it’s not. (You might even say the camo company partially camouflaged its logo on the helmet.) But it’s still uni advertising, and it’s almost certainly just a baby step that will lead to bigger, more obtrusive ads down the road. Worst of all, it opens up college sports as a new frontier in uni advertising.

Obviously, I don’t like it. But this is the uni-verse we now live in. Sigh.

(My thanks to Derek House, who was the first to alert me to this development.)

Comments (31)

    Not saying I like or am for this, but isn’t this more like a maker’s mark situation vs strict advertising where company “buys” space like a billboard? I realize this is somewhat splitting hairs, but if the company designed the one-off helmets, I’m not as concerned, vs., say some advertiser buying a spot on the jersey to stick a patch or whatever. A slippery slope, perhaps. For the record, I don’t really like maker’s marks either, but see more direct reasoning for them.

    If we were talking about the helmet mfr’s logo, *that* would be a maker’s mark.

    There are literally thousands of uniform designers out there. They don’t get to put their name or logo on the uniform.

    Also: There’s the issue of the chinstrip, which isn’t “designed” at all — it’s just a billboard.

    Not really, no. The way the Camo clothing industry works is there is a manufacture of the print design, and a manufacturer of the clothing. The clothing will usually bear the logo of its manufacturer, whilst the print has the logo of the camo print in its design. The way the helmet is above actually reflects how it works. The logo is literally part of the design.

    OK, but that’s how the *camo* industry works. It’s not how the *uniform* industry works. (And it’s certainly not how the making of white chinstraps works.)

    What you’re basically saying is that the vendor’s protocols should take precedence over the client’s protocols, which is absurd on its face.

    Bottom line: It’s a business transaction that resulted in this company’s logo appearing on the school’s helmet. That’s an ad. If you’re OK with that, that’s great — enjoy! I happen to feel differently. We can agree to disagree.

    I am an Ole Miss alum and season ticket holder, so I’ll take a shot at answering your question.

    Yes. We are. That’s why we have one of the top ten head coaching salaries in the sport.

    Now, to give you an honest answer. no, but Mississippi is a small state and the poorest state in the US. We are in a conference with Texas A&M, and before long, Texas. Those two schools have much larger alumni bases with lots of oil industry money. Ole Miss has to compete for players (think NIL deals) with those schools.

    This is a company owned by a family that loves Ole Miss. They want to help financially. Lane Kiffin is all about branding and recruiting. It’s a perfect marriage.

    And I kind of like the helmet, although I know many won’t.

    “This is a company owned by a family that loves Ole Miss. They want to help financially.”

    Perhaps this is naive of me, but can’t they do that without sticking an ad on the helmet?

    I’m sure they could. Just like major donors could give money without buildings being named after them. I’ll leave it to someone else to tell you about Santa Claus.

    But your analogy is flawed. No one is complaining about donors requiring buildings be named for them (hell, I had several on my various campuses). Half the colleges in the North East have libraries named for Andrew Carnegie (or in my case, a dorm). But that’s not the equivalent of placing an AD for your own corporation on a uniform (or helmet). There are some things (hospitals, schools, government buildings, etc.) where advertising is still (I hope) anathema. Uniforms should be included in that category. Again, call me naive, but I believe benefactors should be content with having their names attached to gifts, NOT with placing ads on a teams’ uniforms.

    I don’t mind the ad, it’s “hidden” and doesn’t override the helmet.

    The problem is the design is sloppy and doesn’t go well with the uniforms.

    I remember him tweeting this picture of the helmet out back in June. Didn’t think it was actually going to see the field back then, but here we are.


    Upon reading the headline I had visions of Taco Bell being the helmet ad and they’d be putting a diacritical over the e in Ole. I wouldn’t put it past them.

    I’ll admit my bias for all things powder blue/red/white and while I admire the center stripe pattern, this design is not appealing…it looks like a beat-up, painted-over-several-times helmet.
    Plus the pattern is touted not for hunting, but for fishing (which I guess one would use if they were angling in the water…but does one really need to camoflage from fish?), so the use of the antler logo instead of the hooks one is an odd choice.

    It would be nice if you would at least spell the name right. It’s Ole Miss not Old Miss. My want get some new copy editors.

    Be thankful you didn’t write Mississippi; you might’ve gotten tased.

    [zaaaaaaaaap] “EETS OLE MISS PAAAAAWWWWWL!” [zap zap zap]

    One person’s stretch is another’s simple logic.

    If you’re OK with this, that’s fine. I happen to disagree.

    Either way, it’s certainly unprecedented. The only question is whether we’re OK with it.

    Technical/proofreading – the following hyperlinks are not be working (at least for me):

    -The link in the sentence beginning, “We’ve seen corporate logos on uniforms for college football bowl games for years…”

    -The link in teh sentence, “Also, the school is selling a new line of co-branded Realtree merch.”

    Looking at the Merch page:
    -Says “as worn by Lane Kiffin” over a picture of not Lane Kiffin
    -Interesting to see Nike and Realtree with some co-branding of merch on the page

    I’ll agree, the helmet looks like a powder blue helmet that had some turpentine spill on it.

    I’ve always thought I had a pretty good grasp of how camouflage works, but what exactly does this helmet blend into?

    Paul, you do realize that you are giving the companies involved more exposure by pointing it out every time a new sponsor patch appears? The whole reasaon companies are willing to buy ad space is because peoeple like you will spred the word.

    Up next: NFL teams selling helmet space before they will follow up with uniform patches. Ole Miss wanted to be the first in something and they succeeded.

    How would people feel about corporate logos on practice uniforms, like the NFL? Some schools need all the revenue they can get.

    Speaking only for myself:

    1) Practice is different. I don’t care what they wear for that.

    2) Saying an institution “needs all the revenue they can get” doesn’t really mean much. So would it be OK for them open a strip club? After all, that’s a good revenue source, and it’s legal. What about marketing their own brand of CBD products? What about marketing their own line of sugary junk-food cereal? After all, they “need” the revenue, right?

    We all “need” revenue. It’s just a question of whether certain revenue sources are acceptable or unacceptable. Personally, I find uniform ads to be unacceptable. But that’s just me.

    Setting aside the discussion of teams selling Ad Space on their uniforms and whoring out their identities and uniform space to pimp for certain products and companies, the helmet is DISGUSTING LOOKING.

    Absolutely horrible look. The entire point of Team Uniforms are to represent the school or Team, and to LOOK GOOD. To look the best that you can look representing the School or Team, the traditions, or, an IDEA that is appropriate to the moment.
    THIS is not good looking and makes no discernable point or idea.


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