Walk down a busy street in any town in the state of Texas, and it probably won't take long to spot someone wearing a Longhorns T-shirt, a burnt orange cap or even a pair of silver Bevo earrings.
Now comes a much greater test of Texas' sports marketing clout: Can the Longhorns sell electric power the way they do merchandise?
Dallas-based Branded Retail Energy has signed a six-year contract with the university and will make Texas Longhorns Energy available to consumers in August. Sports Business Journal has more:
The electricity will be supplied by Champion Energy Services and is being touted as 100 percent renewable energy to alumni and fans in deregulated regions of Texas. Every new account will generate funds for the University of Texas and consumers will receive Longhorns merchandise, memorabilia, access to events, ticket discounts and other benefits as incentives, including likely co-promotions with other UT sponsors.
It may seem strange for an electricity provider to rely on consumers' love of Texas athletics to help sell electrical power, but sports marketing experts suggest the partnership is not as outlandish as it sounds.
For Branded Retail Energy, it's an opportunity to join forces with one of the nation's most powerful collegiate sports brands and offer the 280,000 in-state Texas alumni an added incentive to ditch their previous energy provider. For Texas, it's a new revenue stream and an opportunity to fund renewable energy on campus.
"It's a little unusual on the surface, but if you take a look at the incredible amount of money these universities have to spend on campus, securing in-kind sponsorship can be a great way to go," said David Carter, founder of The Sports Business Group. "Anytime a university can offset cost and they can do so with a respected service provider, they should take a look at it.
"If you turn it around, the energy company is hoping to link its brand to Texas, which is about as powerful a brand in the state as anything but the Dallas Cowboys. The affinity people feel for the University of Texas is something the company hopes will rub off on them."