April 17, 2014
Leaked logo creates tough PR battle for Seminoles
When the reigning NCAA national football champion announces a logo change, the marketing world – and football fans from coast to coast – sit up and pay attention. When the information is leaked, and not immediately denied, things can REALLY blow up…good or bad.
It had yet to be officially announced that Florida State University was about to unveil its new logo, when an observant fan snapped a picture of a “different” Seminole logo he found on a t-shirt in his hometown Wal-Mart. He posted the pic on social media, and a flaming spear of a firestorm erupted.
Ronn Torossian says fans were none too thrilled with the example posted, and made their lack of enthusiasm readily apparent to both the school and other fans. Suddenly, about a week before the actual new logo was set to be unveiled, FSU was in the middle of a PR crisis.
Torossian says they couldn’t just ignore the incident. It had blown up too huge, and their fans were investing far too much emotional currency in the conversation for the brand to back out. At the same time, they couldn’t control the conversation that was churning in so many different directions at once.
This created a difficult PR conundrum for both the school and its boosters. They needed their fans to buy in to the new look – well, to literally buy the new look, anyway. Now, the waters were muddied, and when fans talked about the “new logo,” no one really knew which one they were talking about.
Then, when the new look was finally released, the reaction from fans was more relief than excitement. Definitely not what the school wanted.
Worse, the Seminole’s south Florida conference rival, the Miami Hurricanes, did everything right with their new uniform release. They teased a video of players seeing the uniforms for the first time. A video that didn’t even give the viewers a glimpse. But, the reaction from the players was HUGE. Then, when the new look Canes uniforms were released, fans were free to expend all their emotional energy on the new design.
This scenario is not just a PR mess for FSU. It’s a lesson to all brands on the importance of controlling the message at every juncture of public relations.