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Timing key in new Pirate pattern

Brand Pattern - RGB
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East Carolina and adidas released a new secondary branding pattern for the Pirates on April 24.

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Strategy is a chief pillar in sports.

That can go beyond the games and playing fields, which for East Carolina athletics was evident in the Pirates’ late-April collaborative release with adidas of a new ECU branding pattern filled with swords and crossbones and other exclusive designs.

The brand pattern actually was completed by the end of 2016, but the typical process of finalizing uniforms and retail deals and other factors led to the spring release.

Implementing the pattern, which is aimed to be secondary and supplemental according to ECU acting chief operating officer Lee Workman, into uniforms will begin this year with football pants. Men’s and women’s basketball also will use it in their uniforms this year.

Items already are available for retail and that is set to increase this summer and fall.

“If you look at it from just the retail perspective, our best season is from August to January,” Workman said. “Then we don’t sell as much from January to June. We are working on that and trying to improve that but, yes, we wanted to get it out before peak selling season and fans could see it out and when they are at ball games. There is a strategy behind it all.”

ECU’s student-athletes were first to get an exclusive look at the pattern, and players graduating last week received special stoles from adidas to wear during graduation festivities.

A federal registration process completed by the Pirates means the branding pattern is theirs forever, even if they don’t partner with adidas in the future. ECU and adidas began their 10-year apparel agreement in June of 2016.

Naturally, there is a wait-and-see approach on how fans might buy items featuring the pattern, but Workman is optimistic.

“It has been received really well, so I would assume during the fall and when more of this product comes out, it will help sales and product incrementally,” he said. “We’ll see, but based upon my past experience with things that we have done like this, it should.”

The branding pattern stems from the Pirates’ switch from Nike to adidas in 2016 and ECU being a valued school for adidas as part of that agreement.

Adidas representatives visited campus and took a lot of pictures to help with their understanding of ECU athletics and its fan base and traditions.

East Carolina officials, including Workman, then worked directly with adidas global brand management on possible designs. After finalizing a pattern, things went to the adidas custom uniform department to work on uniform ideas.

Workman said the branding pattern being used on uniforms will be a process that gradually will grow after the initial football and basketball implementation.

“The adidas folks were great during the whole process we went through, and we were impressed with what they did and how they did it,” Workman said. “We really like what we’ve come up with on this brand pattern and how it tied in to our culture and traditions, but gave us an innovative way to move forward with our brand.”

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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