The Texas A&M Brand: Big-Time Exposure Is Spelled SEC
COLLEGE STATION — To paraphrase a popular ad slogan used during the 1960s, Texas A&M is the hottest brand going.
The school’s decision to join the Southeastern Conference (SEC) is already paying huge dividends on every front, and nowhere is that more evident than in Texas A&M University’s licensing division that manages the Aggie brand from T-shirts to Gatorade bottles, says Shane Hinckley, assistant vice president for business development.
To put it in athletic terms, Texas A&M’s move to the SEC is a game-changer.
“The interest in the Texas A&M brand and the demand for it has never been greater,” Hinckley says of the switch from the Big 12 to the SEC.
“Just about every day since we announced we were going to the SEC, we are approached by vendors and retailers wanting to sign a contract to distribute Texas A&M products. To say there is great interest in Texas A&M right now is to put it mildly.”
Considering that the Texas A&M brand accounted for about $43 million in sales at the retail level in the past year, and the move to the SEC will no doubt increase that figure substantially, the decision to head to the new league already seems like a cash register winner.
Hinckley says that the top licensing group in the country – Collegiate Licensing Co. – represents the vast majority of big-time athletic programs in the U.S. “And 5 of the top 10 brand revenues are schools in the SEC, while the Big 12 had only one,” he points out.
“That shows what kind of revenue potential there is in the SEC. It is no doubt the premier conference in the country and to be a part of it will create a significant impact on the Texas A&M brand.”
As for those licensing revenues, people often ask, ‘where does the money go?’
Hinckley explains that Texas A&M has a formula for the dollars the Texas A&M brand generates, and it is not that complicated.
“The first $60,000 goes for the Bonfire Memorial maintenance,” he notes.
“Then next $300,000 goes to Corps of Cadets scholarships. All additional amounts are split between Athletics (at 65 percent) and Marketing (at 35 percent), and Marketing uses their portion of the funds to reinvest in promotion of the university.”
Since brand exposure is the name of the game in college athletics, the move to the SEC could not be bigger in terms of audience appeal.
Each week, Hinckley notes, the SEC has four member schools on national TV covering 100 percent of the country. Currently, the Big 12 has two games each week that reach between 60 to 100 percent of the country.
“The math is simple do – the brand exposure we will get with the SEC far surpasses what the Big 12 is able to do,” explains Jason Cook, vice president for marketing and communications at Texas A&M. “And it is already translating into major dollars for us. In the last three months alone, we have had major vendors tell us they are selling more and more Texas A&M products.
“Companies like Target, Old Navy, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Sports Authority — all of them are greatly interested in working with us. We deal with about 650 vendors, and the move to the SEC is creating unprecedented demand for anything with Texas A&M on it.
“And for the SEC, this means they have a new market now — the entire state of Texas,” Cook adds. “We will carry the banner for the state of Texas into SEC markets. We now have a chance to promote and strengthen the Texas A&M brand in ways we never dreamed of before.”