Thursday, September 29, 2011

Maize...Out

This is a rant.  This is a rant that will likely be preaching to the choir, but I'm sorry, I must.


The above image is taken from the Michigan Athletic Department's "This Week in Michigan Football" email that I, like I am sure many of you, received today.

Let's look at the flaws inherent in this marketing strategy:

1). Jerseys
I have always firmly believed this is a very simple issue: No maize jersey, no maize out.  And there should never, ever, be a maize jersey.  Since the actual game is one of the few socially acceptable places where a person can wear their jersey, telling them that they should not wear said jersey because you're trying a marketing gimmick is annoying at best, especially when jerseys are not cheap.  I could actually get behind a metaphorical maize out, where people are encouraged to wear their white jerseys, thus making Michigan Stadium look more like bi-color sweet corn, ergo maize, but yeah, I think the marketing people would much rather have your money from your $70 replica home jersey or your $130 replica Under the Lights jersey than your $18 maize t-shirt.

2). Student Section
I know I am old school (1996-2000) but when I went to Michigan, we didn't have season shirts, and we liked it.  We wore what we wanted to wear.  We had our own lucky shirts, and no one got mad at us for a lack of unity of color blocking.   And we liked it!  The call for a Maize Out is a reminder that the student section will be wearing maize, and if you're a good fan, you should be too.

3). Michigan Weather
A Maize Out, if you acknowledge the need for it, should be reserved for important games, like Ohio State or Michigan State, or even this year Nebraska.  But because most people do not have a maize/yellow winter coat, any call for a Maize Out pretty much has to come before October 15 here in Michigan.  So our Maize Out game is against Minnesota.  A team that features, among its colors, gold.  And what color does Minnesota want its fans to wear to games?  Goldy, can you take this away?


4). Blue Outs look terrible
Part of this is because it's nigh impossible to get a matching set of navy blue t-shirts, but we learned from the 2005 Ohio State game that a Blue Out just looks awful.  White outs look cool, Penn State and the Winnipeg Jets have shown us that.  Red Outs look good, as Wisconsin and Nebraska can attest.  Black Outs are cool, as we've seen at Iowa night games.  Boise State's pattern out was pretty awesome. But the Maize Out just doesn't work as well.

5). Michigan Arrogance
You want the real reason why Maize Outs won't work at Michigan Stadium?  Try getting 110,000 people to agree on anything.  Try getting 110,000 Michigan fans to agree on anything.  We're arrogant, that's the stereotype, that's the hallmark, and we don't cotton very nicely to being told what to wear to the game.  There will be those who consciously wear their blue jersey just to spite the marketing department.

In the end, we all know that Marketing is going to do what Marketing does, try to "enhance the brand" and "sell the experience".  But Maize Outs are just the Michigan Athletic Department's version of trying to make fetch happen.


I thank you for your time, now please get off my lawn.

7 comments:

Reed said...

Seconded!

Fgowolve said...

Wow. I better make sure I stay off your lawn in the future. Granted, your years of attendance tell me everything I need to know. My Mom was a Nebraska alum, and their sea of red was very impressive to me growing up. When I showed up at the school in 2001, the fan unity was kind of meh. Ever since they've gotten the students to start wearing maize on a continuous basis, it has looked stellar. Maize pops. Blue doesn't. And as the last decade has shown us, that maize has slowly crept into the rest of the Big House, either through students becoming alums or old people becoming converts. And the Big House looks sooooo much better because of it. Imagine the Under the Lights game, circa 1999 with a patchwork of blues and greys and whites. Wouldn't have looked, or FELT, nearly as awesome.

I know we're Michigan. I know we're arrogant. I know intellectually well off people hate being told what to do and how to act. But maybe, for something as important as stadium atmosphere, we can get off our porch and stop yelling at the youngins.

Craig said...

FGo,

I understand what you're saying and I respect the idea that people have done a better job with it and your position. But I just feel that things like this should be organic. Nebraska's Sea of Red was not a marketing gimmick, I suspect, it's just what the fans do there.

My larger question is this: Why is Michigan's fan base so obsessed with being like every other fan base instead of being something unique to Michigan? The Marketing Machine Maize Out is but one of the many facets of that.

Anna said...

For the record, the Maize Out wasn't a creation of the Marketing Department, but rather was called for by Matt Cavanaugh, then the drum major of the MMB, in a letter to the editor in 2003. It was for the Notre Dame game that season.

Craig said...

Anna,

OK, so it has some semi-organic origins, but it's still an arm of the marketing department now.

Fgowolve said...

I don't think it matters whether it's organic or not. Schools like Nebraska and Wisconsin have it easy, they just wear red. People naturally gravitate towards it. Michigan doesn't have that organic luxury. We have two equally important school colors, and we need a central figure like the team or the drum major to tell us which one to decide on. Because the concept of wearing maize is a relatively new concept, it takes a lot of pushing and reminding from the inside to get people to make that transition. I don't mind where that direction comes from, because I think the push toward maize is definitely a positive.

On a related note, I think the natural skepticism that a lot of people have toward anything coming from the marketing department is a uniquely Michigan traditionalist view. Just because an idea comes from inside the University doesn't automatically make it a bad thing. (i.e. night games, luxury suites, season shirts, legends patches) I know you can give me a list of bad ideas probably twice as long that I would agree with, but we have to judge these things on the merits. Wearing maize is good. If the athletic department can further advance that habit, I am all for it.

MGoShoe said...

This rant is very ranty. Other than the obvious issue with maize outs and cold weather attire, I just don't see why this is a big deal.

Sorry, Craig.