Monday, December 13, 2010

Ad Agencies Gone Wild: Big Ten Unveils Lame Logo, Absurd Division Names

Much to nearly unaminous disdain, the Big Ten unveiled their new logo and division names today.  Rather than risk offending anybody by selecting any icons or history, Jim Delaney and the Big Ten brass decided to do that "vision thing" and brand the two divisions as "Legends and Leaders".  Or "Dungeons and Dragons".  Or the double "L"s. 

The idea is simply absurd.  Northwestern football has been better the last 15 years than the previous 50, but they're not a legend.  Indiana and Purdue aren't "Leaders" in football.  Nebraska and Michigan may consider their programs "legendary", but I'd bet they consider themselves Leaders.

This is all branding run amok, where an agency got paid way too much money to sit in conference rooms and talk to people in high positions but never tested their work to see how people reacted to it.  It's a product that likely met the stated objectives of the powers-that-be, but failed to account for the end customer. It's ramming a vision down the throats of the college football world, damned be to whatever people think about it.  We're the B1G TEN, dammit!

Frankly, the B1G TEN made this one harder than they needed to. The simple answer was to go with geography for the division names; uninspired, yes...but it wouldn't be as ridiculed as this one.  Personally, I still think that the way to go would have been to appeal to the history of the conference with the division names, but combine it with a futuristic logo.  The Big Ten Network logo actually works here; just add a twelfth star to the design.  I understand the desire to not offend any of the other schools by selecting icons like Bo Schembechler or Woody Hayes. select a couple of icons from the now-defunct University of Chicago football program.  Namely, the Stagg Division and the Berwanger Division.  Stagg, of course, refers to legendary head coach Amos Alonzo Stagg, while Berwanger refers to Jay Berwanger, who won the first Heisman Trophy playing for Chicago.  Who's going to be offended by using a couple of old Maroons?

Or it could be something a little more sinister than that. Since the unveiling of the new name for Omaha's former professional baseball team, I've realized that sometimes it doesn't matter whether anybody likes the name or not as long as long as people talk about it. Bad publicity isn't bad; it's still publicity.  It doesn't matter if people call it crap as long as people are talking about it.  Just don't misspell the name.

So that also provides us with the solution. Like Omaha's former baseball team, don't even mention the new name.  Brian Cook of the MGoBlog suggests that fans, bloggers, and writers simply refuse to acknowledge the proposed names, and go with the generic East/West division names.

So we have the East Division with Illinois, Indiana, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, and Wisconsin and the West Division with Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Northwestern.  It's not 100% geographically accurate, but close enough.  The "East" schools are generally east of the "West" schools.

At least for now; I get the feeling this one might have a lifespan somewhere between the new Gap logo and New Coke.

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