February 28, 2016

Nineties Expansion Pt. I: The Marketing

My grandparents' driveway in Northwestern Tennessee was mostly flat. There was a tree root that caused it bow up near the garage. That was an obstacle; a defenseman in my mind. With a child-size golf putter in my hands, I move the pecan (still in the hull) to my forehand, holding it wide around the tree root, then to my backhand, and back again. I shoot the pecan towards a square basket that I used to pick purple hull peas in my grandfather's garden that morning. It hits the rim. I pick up the rebound and score.

I was five years old, and had just seen The Mighty Ducks. I altered trying out deke moves like Adam Banks and "slap shots" like Fulton Reed. That is, until my grandmother, worried I will dent the Buick, tells me to gather up the pecans in the basket; not shoot them.

I had no skates of any kind, and had never skated in my life. Even today, the skill eludes me. I don't  think I was aware of the existence of hockey until that movie came out. Keep in mind that this was early 1990s rural Tennessee. My parents had just built a new house, and gotten a computer. I had my first experience with the internet (dial-up, naturally) not long before this. No channel on our television showed hockey at any point in the year. It was never in our newspapers. The chances of me encountering hockey where I lived during that time was very slim.

Disney would help change that, though. Six years later the NHL would expand to Nashville. Although it would be another 15 years before I would attend my first NHL game, the connection I made with that movie opened me up to embracing a sport that wasn't football, and a team that wasn't my beloved Tennessee Volunteers. 

The Mighty Ducks made hockey relatable to someone who had never seen or played the game. It showed a generation of kids a new sport that they could have fun playing. It used a smorgasbord of characters that appealed to a very broad spectrum of demographics. Disney followed up on the movie with merchandise, cartoons, and of course, sequels. It was gold, and was good for Disney and the league. It led to a team being put in Anaheim and named after the movie.

This movie rode the Gretzky-to-LA wave, and hockey felt like the "it" sport of the time. Players started signing major international endorsement deals. The alternate jersey program was introduced, fanning the flames of sports aesthetic experimentation that fuels websites like this and unites and excites fans.

And now here I am, the ever-elusive "non-traditional market fan" the NHL wanted so badly, and here you are, reading what that Tennessee boy who substituted pecans for pucks and golf clubs for hockey sticks has to say about how hockey became a truly cross-cultural sport. We've come a long way since 1990, and The Mighty Ducks helped get us there.

Next Week: The impact of emphasizing "mega-stars" in sports marketing in the 1990s.


This week we have several really amazing concepts from some newer and more experienced artists. Take a look!

Toronto Maple Leafs Concept - Zach G.


Positives: Bonus points for using Komarov. Beyond the recent suspension, I really love his game. This concept has shades of my favorite Leafs set. The new logo looks great, even if it is a little too large in this case. I'm not sure if it was intentional, but the thinner font used is more similar to what the team wore from 1927-1963. If it was, that's a good eye to detail. Execution is pretty good. I respect taking the time to put a logo on the helmet.

Negatives: I know Zeke is likely just trying something new, the small maple leafs on the striping aren't doing it for me. 

Overall: With  a few minor exceptions, you have a very solid set here. (8/10)


Hamilton Bulldogs concept - Daniel L.


Positives: Hamilton picked some absolutely awful jerseys for their competition, but this is one that could make Hamilton really look very professional. Hamilton usually uses red and blue, with brown in the logo. Their main problem is poor color balance, originality, and a logo with little contrast. This set helps fix some of those issues. The colors more closely mirror that of Hamilton's flag. The collar insert is a great idea. Colors are balanced well, and execution is great.

Negatives: The overall design is nothing new, but minor league hockey really needs more designs that rely less on Reebok-led trends like piping, phantom yokes, etc.

Overall: A very classic, well-executed set. (8.75/10)


Washington Capitals concept - Brooks F.


Positives: There's no lack of daring here. It does match the audaciousness, aggression, and awkward proportions of this unused Capitals logo. Execution is perfect, and that's difficult to do with a design like this.

Negatives: It's overwhelming, but I think Brooks probably is aware of that. I think removing the pants striping might help make it more palatable by giving the overall combination some negative space. 

Overall: It's punch in the mouth, but couldn't you see this in a list of awesomely crazy 90s jerseys? (8.25/10)


Team USA concept - Ryan H.


Positives: This is a great mix of modern and traditional design. The chest striping works here. I like the use of sublimated stars. Appropriate use of a tie-down collar is a subjective decision, but I think it works here. I really like the logo. It's simple, but very clean and effective. It looks strong, which is what we like in the States. Execution is perfect. I honestly don't think I've ever pointed out a single execution error on one of Ryan's designs, and that's not because he is the OG around here. 

Negatives: C'mon man, everyone knows the real Captain America in hockey is Seth Jones. I have one question; Is this a dark jersey or a light jersey? I'm assuming a light jersey.

Overall: There's a reason why guys like Ryan and Stephané were what I wanted to model designs on. Newer designers need to take a close look at designs like this from Ryan, the Dylans, Christian Legault. and others. (9/10) COTW nomination from me!


University of Alaska-Fairbanks concept - Ben S.


Positives: I like how the native clothing has inspired some of the design elements here. I appreciate Ben including the pictures of where his inspiration originated. Execution is very good, which is more difficult to do with a complicated design like this.

Negatives: About that complication, the design needs a little more restraint. There's too much striping going on here. I see where the inspiration from the pant striping came from, but I think omitting that would help here.

Overall: It's well-executed, thoughtful, and unique, but less would be more here. (8.0/10)


Team Sweden 2016 World Junior Championships concept - Taylor R.


Positives: Sweden's national aesthetic can really lend itself to some great designs, as Taylor shows here. This design is well executed, and the presentation is very attractive and professional. I have a 1983 Sweden jersey that is very similar to the yellow jersey here, but for the rugby-style collar popular with European jerseys at the time. 

Negatives: Would I change anything about this? Probably not. Is it bordering on clichè? Maybe.

Overall: It's like an old brick house, solid and beautiful, but one that maybe needs some modern touches in interior decorating. (8.5/10)


St. John's Ice Caps concept - Jack S.


Positives: The half blue/half red font is interesting. I like that it mimics the logo. That was a creative idea.

Negatives: It's a shame the only creative idea here is the font. The rest of the jersey is what they already wear, with an extra blue stripe at the cuffs, no separation between the hem stripes, and a solid blue collar. There are no sleeve numbers. There are no shoulder logos indicating major league affiliation, which is especially important with AHL and ECHL teams, in my opinion, because it lends them some gravitas.

Overall: The font was a good idea, but that's as far as the good ideas went. (6/10)


Today featured several really great concepts, but I only have one COTW nomination to give out. Be sure to express your opinions on today's artwork, and let your voice be heard!

Voting has opened for our Chicago Express Redesign Competition! We also have our usual COTW vote, so take advantage of the handy voting poll!

COTW Feb 21-27 vote (ends Friday @ 11:59pm Eastern)
Chicago Express Top 3 vote (ends Friday @ 10:59pm Eastern)
Winter Classic Best Jersey Vote (ends Friday @ 11:59pm Eastern) 

See you all next week!

8 comments:

L Pajoslahti said...

COTW nom. to Daniel L's Hamilton jersey!

winnipegjets96 said...

I'll 2nd Daniel L. I like the shoulder patch and colour scheme

Ben Shaffer said...

I'll nominate Taylor R's Sweden concept. Simple, yet effective.

Vaughn Roberts said...

I'll Nominate Ben.S

Zeke G said...

I'll 3rd Daniel L.

jan schreyer said...

4th cotw nom to Daniel L

Burkus Circus said...

Heck yeah jones is captain America!!!!!

GO JACKETS!!! GO MONSTERS!!! GO BUCKS!!!

Dylan Glenn said...

I'll 2nd Taylor R.