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Baby Bearcats Are Out of the Bag As UC Merchandise Sets Another Record

Cuteness abounds on UC’s campus as new Baby Bearcat apparel crawls into bookstores, rocking in alongside new children’s books, Under Armour apparel and another year of record profits for the UC brand.

Date: 8/17/2015 12:00:00 AM
By: Melanie Schefft
Phone: (513) 556-5213
Other Contact: Tom Robinette
Other Contact Phone: (513) 556-1825

UC ingot   Smiles are lighting up all over campus as Baby Bearcats bounce into bookstores and retail markets this fall. The bright-eyed, pudgy-cheeked binturongs are part of the new UC-branded merchandise line, which includes the new Baby Bearcat T-shirts, UC-themed children’s books and a new line of UC Under Armour apparel now hitting the shelves.
Baby Bearcat
Look for new Baby Bearcats apparel in stores this year. (UC Trademarks & Licensing)

In addition, UC’s Office of Trademarks & Licensing reports another season of record profits for the third straight year, generating $905,499 in gross income for fiscal year 2014-15, representing a 5 percent increase ($41,638) over the last fiscal year royalties of $863,861.

“In a licensing industry that has suffered an overall 2 percent decrease in income during fiscal year 2015, UC has outpaced the industry by 7 percent,” says Marty Ludwig, director of trademarks and licensing for UC. “Because of our continued success UC has finished the year ranked as No. 46 in Collegiate Licensing Company’s (CLC) consortium of clients, which includes over 160 colleges, universities, conferences and bowls. UC is also well positioned when compared to other peer institutions like Central Florida (54), Connecticut (44), Georgia Tech (48), Texas Christian (45) and Vanderbilt (52).”


Licensees that saw the most growth during the past year were VF Imagewear (+200 percent), Vesi (+169 percent), League Collegiate Wear (+104 percent), Gear For Sports (+72 percent), Colosseum Athletic (+35 percent) and Knights Apparel (+30 percent).

UC’s top five product categories for apparel were Men’s/Unisex Fleece, Men’s/Unisex T-shirts, Men’s/Unisex Performance Apparel, Men’s Fashion Apparel and Women’s T-shirts.

UC’s top five categories for non-apparel items were Gifts and Novelties, Housewares, School Supplies, Office Products and Personal Accessories.

Ludwig attributes this growth to diligent management and strategic planning with key licensees and retailers to reach a broader constituency and increasing the visibility of the university’s brand through licensed merchandise.

“We have been looking at all angles for the best ways to increase our visibility,” says Ludwig. “One example would be our new partnership with Under Armour, who will be outfitting all of our varsity teams, as well as producing a variety of other UC-branded apparel and merchandise. The new children’s book, Baby Bearcat T-shirts and even new furniture and accessories by Alma Mater Designs are examples of other new products using the university’s logos coming to market.”

As UC reaches out to include a younger population to its group of Bearcat fans, it introduces its new UC-themed children’s book entitled, “Bearcat’s Journey Through UC,” written by UC alumni Joel Altman and Jerry Tsai, and includes a foreword by UC President Santa J. Ono.


The new inventory should be arriving the same week as UC’s Welcome Back to School BBQ organized for parents, which includes a book signing on Friday, Aug. 21. Altman will be on hand to sign books that have also been pre-signed by President Ono starting at 10:30 a.m. –– directly after the New Student Convocation held on the lawns outside the Russell C. Myers Alumni Center.
Students with Under Armour gear
UC recently partnered with Under Armour, which will be outfitting all varsity teams, as well as producing other UC-branded apparel and merchandise. (Melanie Schefft)

Altman has written similar books for other schools, such as the well-known Cincinnati Reds “Gapper’s Grand Tour: A Voyage Through Great American Ball Park,” and “Hoover the FBI Dog” about an FBI dog detective to help get children familiar with the FBI and what they do in criminal investigations. And Ludwig adds that these hardbacks, as well as the new “Bearcat’s Journey Through UC,” and earlier “Hello Bearcat” children’s book authored by UC men’s basketball coach Mick Cronin are all illustrated by Mascot Books in Columbus.

While digging deep to uncover some of the exciting mysteries about UC, both Altman and Tsai consulted with UC’s foremost authorities on the university’s history –– former associate vice president of public relations Greg Hand and archivist Kevin Grace –– to get UC’s most essential and appropriate history, from their perspective, for this book.

“We’re really excited about the book and the new Baby Bearcat T-shirts,” says Ludwig. “This book was President Ono’s initiative. He wanted to tell UC’s story to a younger population, and working with Joel Altman and Jerry Tsai was a way to do that, as well as to work with some of UC’s alums.

“These are more than just products, these are part of the UC brand and part of engaging the wider constituency, which is wider and deeper than the number of fans who can attend a game. It is everybody affected by the university; our faculty, our staff, our students and all of our alumni, whether they’re here or all over the world and greater Cincinnati community.”

While increasing the brand is not always about revenue, Ludwig points out that by increasing the visibility of the university, increased revenue is often a natural byproduct, and sticking with partnerships that work and dropping those that don’t is key in moving the success of UC’s brand forward.

Signing on with Under Armour and returning to campus for games in Nippert Stadium should bring more attention and visibility for UC this year.
Ludwig says one of the keys to success during FY 2014-15 includes an enhanced market penetration, expanding the brand into retail chains such as Dick's Sporting Goods, RallyHouse, Meijer, as well as traditional campus retailers like the UC Bookstores and DuBois Bookstore.

With the fall semester fast approaching, Bearcats fans will be introduced to a newly launched campaign on social media urging all to share why #WeWearUC. A video will be published showcasing several examples of group accomplishments across the campus, and a link will allow students and fans to submit their own videos.

UC is also working with 50 other schools as part of a national College Colors Campaign sponsored by several retailers including Dick’s and Lids. Using social media, the platform talks about wearing college colors and involves a contest where you can win prizes by posting photos and videos wearing your school’s colors and attaching #CollegeColors and other activity-specific hashtags like #SQUADPIC, #FAMPHOTO and #SELFIE.

“The more engaged our students, fans and constituencies are on social media, the more it helps connect UC as a community and makes it easier to get a wider variety of products placed in stores,” says Ludwig. “And helps us get into programs such as the PINK Program and other premium co-branded collegiate programs like Vera Bradley and Dooney and Bourke.”

A Look at UC’s Growth in Trademark Merchandise

2014-15 –– $905,400
2013-14 –– $863,861
2012-13 –– $859,458
2011-12 –– $768,839
2010-11 –– $749,000

•    Sales of UC-Branded Merchandise Continue to Break Records
•    UC Merchandise Sales Hit All-Time Record