In late July, Under Armour revealed a new stock of college apparel. This seemed odd seeing as Georgia Tech has a ten-year contract with Russell Athletic to be their uniform and apparel provider through 2018.
Adding to the oddity is that Georgia Tech is the only school Under Armour produced apparel for with whom they do not have a contract.
On August 2nd, the campus bookstore tweeted a picture of a mannequin wearing a t-shirt with this year’s motto, “Together We Swarm.” Not only did the image show no Russell logos, but showed the brim of a baseball cap – seemingly a Georgia Tech one – with an Under Armour sticker on it.
The fact that the mannequin is on prominent display and wearing an Under Armour hat rather than a Russell one is intriguing. It demonstrates the lack of control Russell has over Georgia Tech (very different than Nike’s control over Florida State).
The prominent location of the Under Armour items in the campus bookstore does not end with the hat on the mannequin. In fact, the first and second rack of clothing has the only Under Armour items that most shoppers will see when they walk into the bookstore .
Russell items can be found in the back of the apparel section and Nike items are tucked away behind multiple other racks. This seems like more than coincidence. Could Under Armour be influencing the bookstore to display their items more prominently and build up consumer loyalty with Yellow Jacket fans?
While the placement of apparel in the bookstore is purely speculative, the production and marketing of Georgia Tech apparel is a strong indication that Under Armour could be preparing for an early run at securing the next apparel deal likely to be agreed upon in 2017.
With Georgia Tech hovering around #50 in apparel sales revenue for years, a deal with Under Armour would be mutually beneficial.
The fans would be far happier with Under Armour products rather than with the Russell ones with which they have so clearly voiced their displeasure.
Also, Under Armour would inherit a market on the verge of great growth, one just waiting for a more reputable apparel company to take over.
On another front, Nike is already the footwear provider for the athletics program. According to a Georgia Tech cheerleader, athletes receive three pairs of Nike shoes a season just to train in. So could Nike also be trying to work their way in?
What do you think, is Under Armour making a push for the next deal? Would you be happy to see Georgia Tech cut ties with Russell? Who should be the next apparel and uniform provider for Georgia Tech?