Canzano: Trademarks, hashtags and swagger cause a Pac-12 stir
Some Wednesday musings...
A stripe of Washington Husky football fans are in a tizzy this week. Not about the trajectory of the football program or the cost of a gallon of gasoline.
They’re hopping mad at Twitter.
The social media platform recently assigned the hashtag #GoDawgs to the University of Georgia. Utilize it in a tweet today and what automatically pops up alongside the hashtag is the Georgia Bulldogs’ helmet logo.
Bulldogs’ fans are delighted with the development, of course. They’re using it liberally. Some UW fans, who have also used the hashtag for years are now irked. They’ve complained to Twitter and debated Georgia fans on the platform itself.
One UW user even created a poll asking which fan base has the better claim to the “#GoDawgs” hashtag. The poll generated 13,240 votes. The results weren’t favorable for Washington, however — 89.9 percent voted for Georgia.
Maybe Bulldogs fans just have the numbers right now. They’re coming off a national championship football season and a 14-1 record. Washington went 4-8 last season and fired its coach. Or maybe this falls into the SEC’s, “… it just means more,” branding.
One SEC fan replying to the poll offered that the Bulldogs’ should own the right to the hashtag because Georgia was founded in 1785 — 76 years before UW.
Washington fans shot back, pointing to university trademarks and licensing policies. UW controls licenses for: “Washington, Huskies, Dawgs, University of Washington; UW, UDub, and logos such as the block ‘W,’ the Husky mascot marks, the Husky football helmet and the official UW seal.”
I think there’s more to this, though.
The University of Washington, located in Seattle, already has to deal with some minor brand confusion with the NFL team located in Washington, D.C. Also, I wonder how the Seattle Seahawks’ long-time fight with Texas A&M over licensing for the “12th Man” term may factor in the dust up.
Six years ago the Seahawks agreed to pay Texas A&M $140,000 for limited rights to the “12th Man” trademark. That included a royalty of $18,000 a year for using the mark and another $10,000 a year to help support the Aggies in their fight to defend it. Also, the Seahawks had to stop using the “12th Man” term on its social media handles and signage inside the stadium.
Washington Husky fans, I do feel for you.
All you want is to be able to use Twitter in peace and quiet. You’re just there to support your team, use a hashtag, and go about your business. You’re hopeful that coach Kalen DeBoer is going to end up a great hire and deliver UW to a major bowl game in the coming years. Then, you wake up amid spring football and find your timeline has been hijacked by a bunch of unhinged Georgia fans who know way too much about the team’s back-up long snapper.
I’d normally suggest UW should pivot to using, “#GoDogs.”
However, Fresno State is already using that.
I’d offer, “#GoHuskies” but the University of Connecticut, the University of Southern Maine and Northern Illinois are all using it, too. Unless Washington can lobby Twitter to offer the “UW” logo as the default pop-up, you’re still dealing with some brand confusion.
The continued use of “#GoDawgs” is off the table, too. Unless the Washington fans can get somewhere with Twitter it feels like the hashtag is now Georgia’s to lose.
I contacted UW athletic director Jennifer Cohen, who I’m pretty sure has better things to do than talk hashtags. Cohen told me she’s been in meetings all morning and doesn’t have enough information to speak on the topic.
I reached out to Twitter, which told me late Wednesday that it typically assigns customized hashtags to the NCAA Tournament Final Four teams in men’s and women’s basketball and to the College Football Playoff participants. The national champion often hangs onto that tag for the following season.
So basically… #WinMoreGames.
COACH SPEAK: Count me among those who smiled and shook my head when Oregon Ducks’ offensive coordinator Kenny Dillingham recently fired some verbal shots at the rest of the conference.
He was asked by reporters about his early impressions at UO.
“This place cares about football,” Dillingham said. “I say this is the only place west of Texas that has a mindset of the South when it comes to football. This is a southern school. When it comes to football and when it comes to sports, it’s a true college town that can win championships. And if you’re out west, this is the only real college town that can win championships.
“It’s pretty cool.”
Eugene is a college town. Dillingham has that right. Also, relative to some others, Oregon has tremendous resources. But his comments invite a deeper analysis.
What are the college towns?
Among them is Oregon really the only contender?
Rival Oregon State couldn’t have liked what Dillingham said. OSU markets itself using “the Best College Town” branding. Forbes recently ranked Corvallis as the No. 4 College Town in America. But OSU isn’t a title contender in football right now.
I have to think Washington State (Pullman), Colorado (Boulder) and Arizona (Tucson) would also be put off by Dillingham’s remarks. They’re all located in college towns. But I don’t see an immediate College Football Playoff contender among them. I don’t think USC, UCLA, ASU, Cal, Stanford, Washington or Utah are located in true college towns.
As Mike Leach told me years ago, “There’s a real shortage of common sense and college towns in the Pac-12.”
I like the swagger in Dillingham’s game. He’s got some confidence and he’s right — Oregon very much cares about winning and has invested heavily in football. But I’m not ready to anoint the Ducks as a contender and I don’t happen to think of Eugene as home to a “southern school.”
Still, I smiled.
As media members we ask subjects to be authentic and speak candidly. What we typically get in return is coach-speak and tired cliches. Dillingham gave us something to think about, talk about, and debate. Nothing wrong with that.
I just hope the guy can call plays.
OPEN INVITATION: George Kliavkoff is doing a lot of things right. The Pac-12 Commissioner has some good early ideas and has felt far more accessible and relatable than his predecessor. That was never more apparent than when the Arizona football Twitter account invited the commissioner to its spring game this week.
Arizona will hold the spring game on Saturday in Tucson. Kliavkoff now has an official invitation to attend. I don’t know if he will go but the conference commissioner already feels like part of the fabric of the conference.
Kliavkoff told me on the day he was hired that he planned to do a “listening tour” of the campuses. He met with coaches, athletes and administrators as a high-priority item. He didn’t fly in and out on a charter like his predecessor. He stuck around the universities, stayed overnight, ate meals, shook hands and listened to people. Kliavkoff said at the time, “I feel its important to connect with the people on our campuses and do some listening.”
Funny how that works.
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