Licensed products offer Marshall increased visibility, revenue - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Licensed products offer Marshall increased visibility, revenue

Posted: Updated:
JIM WORKMAN / The State Journal JIM WORKMAN / The State Journal
Matt Turner, chief of staff, and Mallory Jarrell, marketing and branding coordinator of Marshall University, show some of the licensed products available at the MU Campus Bookstore — ties and scarves in the school’s official tartan colors and design. Matt Turner, chief of staff, and Mallory Jarrell, marketing and branding coordinator of Marshall University, show some of the licensed products available at the MU Campus Bookstore — ties and scarves in the school’s official tartan colors and design.
Marshall University students John Bruce, a senior from Huntington, and Brittany Reavis, a freshman from Charleston, shop for apparel at the MU Campus Bookstore. Marshall University students John Bruce, a senior from Huntington, and Brittany Reavis, a freshman from Charleston, shop for apparel at the MU Campus Bookstore.
HUNTINGTON, WV -

The demand for Marshall University apparel reached an all-time high in 2006, when the motion picture "We Are Marshall" came out in theaters.

"It was a huge boost for us, both regionally and nationally," said Mallory Jarrell, marketing and branding coordinator of Marshall University. "It was a big year. People became more aware of our story and fell in love with the school."

With the success of the athletic teams and a move from the Mid-American Conference to Conference USA, the school's national profile has been extended.

Marshall's total sales in fiscal year 2012-2013 exceeded roughly $6.4 million at retail, according to Jarrell. Marshall collected $322,037 in gross royalties in the fiscal year that just ended in June.

Boost from warner bros.

Marshall's highest annual collection of royalties was in 2006 when the university collected $379,000 in royalties as a result of the association with the "We Are Marshall" film by Warner Bros., which starred Matthew McConaughey and grossed more than $43 million at the box office.

"We love to see people wearing Marshall gear," Jarrell said. "I was in Florida recently, and I saw people wearing Marshall shirts and Marshall hats. 

"It's very important to the school, because it gives you a sense of community." 

It sparks conversation.

"You can have people saying, ‘Did you go to the games last week?' or ‘Are you a fan?'" Jarrell said.

Naturally, wearing the school colors makes for quite a scene in the stadium.

"We encourage fans to wear kelly green on game day," said Jarrell.

Getting one's hands on Thundering Herd merchandise has gotten easier during the past several years, but it still may be a struggle in some areas of the state.

"We have a record number of Marshall licensees and a record number of retail doors that sell Marshall products," she said. "It's great for our fans and alumni to be able to go out and find the quality products that they're looking for. 

"We are looking for more outlets for our products throughout the state. If you're in the Huntington or Barboursville area, there are a lot of options. But we would like to go towards Charleston, Beckley, Parkersburg — anywhere throughout the state."

Jarrell said the school also is working with the West Virginia Turnpike Authority to offer more Marshall products for travelers coming through the area. 

Looking for new items

"If there's something new out there that we think our fans would like, we're always looking for it," she said.

The campus bookstore at Marshall University has a wide range of licensed merchandise, including stuffed Hello Kitty dolls decked out in MU colors, glasses, balls and tailgate tents.

"Non-apparel items are huge, and it's growing," said Jarrell. "We're always trying to find more licensees to offer more things — like tailgating supplies and home goods. 

"People want more than a t-shirt to wear to the game. They may even have a Marshall room at home that they need to decorate. And they may want plates and platters to use for their parties."

The search for unique items to offer is a never-sending pursuit.

"It works both ways," Jarrell explained. "A lot of times, companies will approach us. They want to get in the college market. And sometimes, if there is something we know is lacking in our market, we will work with Collegiate Licensing Co. and find someone that offers that product.

"Collegiate Tartans approached us several years ago," Jarrell added. "We worked with him on our design. We had four designs originally, and put them on our website for fans to vote for their favorite design. That's how we came up with it. It's now our official Marshall University tartan." 

Scarves, ties and tote bags are now available with the official Marshall University tartan design.

The fundraising aspect

Although it may not be foremost on a consumer's mind at the cash register, buying a Thundering Herd mug, or any other officially licensed product contributes to education.

"The money from licensing goes into scholarships," Jarrell said. "It goes straight back to students to help them out and make Marshall available to more and more students. It's a good thing. 

"And that's why it makes it important to only buy licensed apparel with the CLC tag on it, because you're helping students with scholarship money."