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Licensing Basics for Higher Education

Sarah Steimer

Colleges are turning to license partners to keep branding consistent, legal and on-trend

The Loyola University Ramblers’ march to the Final Four of the NCAA’s 2018 men’s basketball championship was a shock to many. Yet there they were, and fans in the Chicago area scrambled to buy maroon and gold merchandise to cheer on the team.

Thanks to some quick action by the school’s licensing agency, vendors and retailers, those fans were able to stock up on Loyola apparel—some of which even featured the popular Sister Jean, chaplain for the men’s basketball team.

“We basically had a mini office in Chicago,” recalls Ben Emmons, vice president of brand marketing at Learfield Licensing Partners. Emmons says his team rushed to provide in-store retail marketing, signage and bonus gifts with purchases. “The NCAA towel that you couldn’t buy at retail for the most part? We were getting those straight from the towel manufacturer and overnighting them. We couldn’t even stock them. The moment that Sister [Jean] gave her approval on using her image, we had a licensee in their truck driving from Minnesota with 10,000 shirts already being placed at a bookstore, Dick’s Sporting Goods and a bunch of other retailers.”


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Sarah Steimer is a staff writer for the AMA's magazines and e-newsletters. She may be reached at ssteimer@ama.org or on Twitter at @sarah_steimer.