Die Weltmarke mit den 3 Streifen
When Adidas took over the UCLA apparel contract in 1999, it signaled the Bruins’ entry into the high-stakes branding world. Previously, UCLA had been outfitted by Reebok and, before that, Champion, but now UCLA was getting big shoe money.
And it showed. The uniforms got more modern and stylish. There were more merchandise options in stores. It was a good move.
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Even better, UCLA was now aligned with the biggest rival of Nike, outfitters of UCLA’s bitter rival, USC. A lot of Bruin fans developed an Adidas brand loyalty from that fact alone.
But that was almost 20 years ago. Nike’s involvement in the college game has exploded, along with the football success of its flagship program, Oregon.
Adidas, which ten years ago was an island of classic sanity compared to Nike’s flashy experimentation, has attempted to match Nike’s cachet with ill-considered brand-wide gimmicks of its own, from the Zubaz nightmares and the cummerbunds in basketball to unreadable fonts and pointless business in football.
Consequently, Adidas has become a laughingstock in college sports over that last couple of years and is shedding contracts left and right. Previous flagship programs have left for Nike (Michigan, Tennessee) and Under Armour (Notre Dame, Wisconsin).
Adidas has managed to lose the loyalty of UCLA fans by repeatedly tarnishing some of the most widely respected uniforms in sports with desperate visual stunts. I will caveat that the blame for that lies at least equally with the Athletic Department. The AD or the coaches have the right and obligation to opt UCLA out of the gimmicks and demand a uniform that respects UCLA’s visual tradition. But if they can’t be trusted, then it’s at least time to limit the damage by moving away from Adidas.
Next: The Swoosh