Online sales of Ohio State merchandise through the roof


First Posted: 1/16/2015

Buckeyes fans are so eager to buy national-championship merchandise that they have sent online sales through the roof.

A major supplier of such merchandise, Fanatics.com, reports that it sold more Ohio State items in the first two days after the game than in the first week after Florida State won the national championship last year and in the first week after Alabama won two years ago.

The online retailer has sold 250 different items, including T-shirts, sweatshirts and caps. It had orders from fans in all 50 states within 12 hours after the victory over Oregon.

Top-selling states for OSU gear include Ohio, Florida, Texas, California and Georgia, the company said in a statement.

After all the major cities in Ohio, top markets for OSU championship merchandise are Atlanta; Chicago; New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Tampa, Fla.

Ohio State’s sales success on Fanatics.com began even before the kickoff of the national-championship game. The online retailer reports that the Buckeyes had been the top-selling team on their site since the Jan. 1 semifinal games for the inaugural College Football Playoff national championship.

The online sales success is part of a broader merchandising success and means “the OSU brand has grown beyond Columbus and the Big Ten,” said Matt Wilson, chief operating officer and general manager of SBC Advertising.

He pointed to the fact that the Buckeyes brand was recently valued at $1 billion in an annual ranking by Ryan Brewer, an assistant professor of finance at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus.

The Buckeyes displaced Texas at the No. 1 spot in the rankings, and that means “the Buckeye band’s famous acronym TBDBITL could include a new definition: The Best Damn Brand in the Land,” Wilson said.

Ohio State football follows the traits of “a lot of the great brands,” said Doug McIntyre, CEO of Cult Marketing, who went to both the national-championship game in Texas and to the Sugar Bowl.

“One of the main things is that Ohio State has certain rituals — everywhere we went someone was saying O-H-I-O, everyone was wearing the colors,” McIntyre said. “Oregon didn’t have the depth of rituals.”

Three things pushed the Ohio State brand and drove sales of themed merchandise, said Bill Faust, the chief strategy officer of Ologie, a Columbus marketing company that has universities among its clients.

“The first is the novelty of the playoffs,” Faust said. “People have been clamoring for that for 10, 20 years. Now people are even more proud because, for the first time, you can’t argue with it.”

The second factor is the fairy-tale aspect of the story, he said. “Nobody believed it was going to happen.”

The final factor is that “Ohio State didn’t just win the national championship,” Faust said. “The Big Ten won, the northern states won. I really believe that there’s a sense of pride that finally we’re making a statement that we matter — we in Nebraska, we in Columbus, we in Detroit.”

The OSU brand “is now rooted in the hearts and minds of those who witnessed the climb from zero to hero,” Wilson said.

McIntyre agreed. “I think there’s going to be a lot of halo effect for the university and, frankly, for the state,” he said.

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