Raptors' launch of new logo baffles marketing...
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Dec 22, 2014  |  Vote 0    0

Raptors' launch of new logo baffles marketing experts

Fans who want to buy merchandise sporting Toronto’s fresh ‘shield’ will have to wait until next summer, which is one of many perplexing issues with the unveiling

OurWindsor.Ca

As shoppers browsed the shelves at Real Sports Apparel in the Air Canada Centre Monday afternoon, they had hundreds of Raptors-themed goods to choose from.

But among the jerseys, sweatshirts, headbands and socks, there was something that couldn’t be found: Anything with the team’s new logo, which was unveiled Friday.

Coming just days before Christmas, in the heart of gift-shopping season, not giving fans a chance to buy gear with the heavily-criticized new logo is a baffling decision, according to marketing expert Alan Middleton.

“Why on earth would you do that? Not to have the merchandise available is just completely amateur,” said Middleton, a marketing professor at York University’s Schulich School of Business.

While a few T-shirts featuring a “prototype” of the new logo were given out on social media as part of in-game promotions over the weekend, a spokesperson for MLSE said new jerseys won’t be available until early summer. Other apparel with the new logo will be available before the beginning of the 2015-2016 season.

Among the new apparel will be several items that are part of a collaboration between Drake and Philadelphia-based sports apparel maker Mitchell and Ness. (Drake made a point of telling a journalist on Twitter that he hadn’t played a role in “the execution” of the new logo, prompting suggestions he was distancing himself from the design. A spokesperson for MLSE denied there was any rift between the team and their global ambassador, saying “the Raptors have a great working relationship with Drake and he is an important part of our marketing collaboration.”

The new logo is part of a wider team rebranding, including the “We the North” campaign by creative agency Sid Lee. Boosting sales of apparel is one of the biggest business reasons why sports teams rebrand themselves or come out with new logos, Middleton said.

“It’s hugely important. In some cases, it’s up to the level of the TV revenues,” said Middleton, who had harsh words to describe the seemingly-haphazard launch of the new logo.

“Mickey Mouse. Really bad. It’s terrible,” Middleton said of the launch.

The logo — featuring stylized claw marks on a basketball — was released last week, with a colour version posted on the team’s Facebook page, then pulled down to be replaced by a black and white version. Late Friday afternoon, the team tweeted out colour versions, and confirmed that a red, black and silver version would be the primary logo. A black and gold version will be the secondary logo.

It drew heated criticism from many fans, who thought it looked a little too much like the logo of the Brooklyn Nets, who bumped the Raptors from the playoffs last spring. While the colour version makes it less like the Nets’ strictly black and white logo, it’s the Raptors’ own fault for the misunderstanding, says GTA-based logo expert Chris Creamer, who runs SportsLogos.net. For one thing, they should have released the colour versions at the same time.

“The fans made the connection to Brooklyn (because of the black and white version), and they won’t let it go. The Raptors botched this launch,” said Creamer, who said he was underwhelmed at the redesigned logo when he saw it.

“It’s kind of like mashed potatoes. I don’t hate it, but safe would be a good word to describe it,” said Creamer, who nonetheless was pleased with at least one aspect of the redesign: The lack of a Raptor.

“Personally, I’ve never been a fan of the ’90s cartoon dinosaur, on the logo or the uniform,” said Creamer.

The logo was also hit and miss for ESPN uniform columnist Paul Lukas, who runs the Uni Watch website, whose slogan is: The obsessive study of athletic aesthetics. On the plus side? The fact there’s a claw mark — a reference to previous iterations which featured a dinosaur, or at least a claw.

On the minus side? Just about everything else, starting with the fact a basketball that’s been clawed wouldn’t exactly be functional.

“It’s going to deflate, it’s not going to be round any more. It actually doesn’t make sense as an object,” said Lukas, who was also no fan of the video that accompanied the logo’s launch. The video feature the tag line “We the North is our battle cry . . . And this . . . this is our shield.”

Lukas mocked the line.

“Their shield for what?” Lukas asked. “They’re under attack?”

Toronto Star

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