UH becoming household name in Texas, alongside UT and A&M
Regardless of the state flag, it appears that the official Texas colors are burnt orange and burgundy, but with UH football joining the American Athletic Conference and the University’s marketing becoming more aggressive, the state will soon burn red.
The University ranks high academically and has impressive programs from business and scientific research to law and creative writing, but our educational prowess is winning us few points in regards to immediate popularity.
One of the quickest ways a college can gain national recognition is with a sports program that competes in leagues warranting national coverage.
Early this year, Texas A&M exercised their bragging rights for finally joining the elite Southeastern Conference by stationing pro-Aggie advertisements across the Austin and Houston areas in a tactless marketing campaign.
This tactic included a billboard, which featured an A&M football player with extended arms and the caption “This Is SEC Country,” staring down at UH from across the interstate.
The board was quickly replaced with a pro-UH ad, but the sign made it clear that our programs have a lot of bark, but our alumni and students have little bite.
Looking at the surface, it can be argued that the UH fan base either needs an injection of red adrenaline or is borderline non-existent, but until recently the main problem has been that the school wasn’t on the radar of any major networks.
Fortunately, Houston will be competing in the American, which will give the school more visibility starting this season.
“We will play in a league that guarantees automatic access to the Bowl Championship Series…for the first time in our program history,” said associate athletics director David Bassity.
The American features popular schools, specifically the University of Cincinnati and the University of Louisville, which have pulled in heavy media coverage for its past few seasons. Whether or not Houston wins against these fierce competitors, attention from the games will build up demand for UH products.
“The network TV deal the American has reached will give our games national coverage that is exponentially better than what we have received in the past. Our football and basketball games will be aired on the ABC/ESPN family of networks,” Bassity said.
The basketball package also includes airings on CBS.
In order for UH to cultivate a fan base as active as the ones supporting UT and A&M, the University will have to win over buyers at major stores, which means the school’s marketing department has to be more active in persuading stores like Academy and Target that there is a demand for UH products.
Recently, the school has taken their contract from the Collegiate Licensing Company and resigned with the Licensing Resource Group to enhance brand exposure and the Cougars’ presence in retail.
Since the switch, the school has debuted a more printable and distinct logo and made products more accessible and affordable for off-campus fans.
But pride is not cultivated from new logos and trendy T-shirts. It takes tradition and legacy.
The Athletics Department’s annual Fan Appreciation Day and Frontier Fiesta events are possibly the most impressionable initiatives the University has taken to build the school’s popularity. These occasions invest the student body and help create interest in the University as early as possible.
Athletics has been pushing and organizing other efforts to encourage students and alumni to step up and support the University and all of its sports. Among these other initiatives are developing a communication system with key contacts in Student Housing & Residential Life, the Student Government Association and Student Program Board, among others.
Of course, the department also implements more traditional methods like fliers, cross promotions, engaging fans with social media, working closely with Coog Crew at football games and advertising in The Daily Cougar.
The University’s fight to keep Houston red will forever be an ongoing battle, but in light of the recent changes, Cougar fans everywhere can expect to see the future becoming much brighter throughout the next few years.
Opinion columnist Ciara Rouege is a print journalism junior and may be reached at [email protected].