MURFREESBORO – Middle Tennessee State University Athletics on Sunday unveiled #TRUE as its marketing theme for next season, a more consistent and distinctive advertising concept that will be used by all 17 teams and also connects to the University's ongoing "I am True Blue" brand.
"We were looking for a way to show support to the 'I am True Blue' brand, yet have a look and feel that would be more distinctive for athletics," said Director of Athletics Chris Massaro. "We also wanted our advertising to reflect the hard work, determination and spirit put forward by our student-athletes.
"Our advertising has been somewhat inconsistent, not only from season to season, but from sport to sport," Massaro said. "The imagery and messaging that will be connected with #TRUE will make our marketing for all our sports more distinctive and identifiable."
The color of the main #TRUE mark will be Raider blue, with limited alternate uses in white or black when required. The lettering has a gritty, stencil-like feel and features a lightning bolt in the "U," a nod to Lightning, the horse symbol used in the primary MT Athletics mark.
The mark can also feature a tagline, in white lettering, for a message that can be customized to fit a specific team or athlete - or highlight a selected game or series. The hashtag is hoped to encourage sharing and tagging on social media sites.
The campaign's visuals used in posters and advertising, including print, digital and TV, will be sharply contrasted black-and-white images with bright blue spot color. TV and digital ads will also feature new theme music, which officials will also incorporate into player introductions.
The first 30-second TV commercial of the #TRUE campaign will premiere Sunday on Comcast in Nashville and Murfreesboro during ESPN's coverage of the World Cup. It can also be seen on GoBlueRaiders.com, the official website of MT Athletics.
Fans will also have the ability to purchase #TRUE-branded MTSU merchandise. MTSU is working with its licensing agent, Collegiate Licensing Company, to identify a small group of licensees to develop products for sale with both the #TRUE and "I am True Blue" branding.
"I am True Blue" reflects the university's shared values of honesty and integrity; respect for diversity; engagement in the community; and commitment to reason. Since being embraced by MTSU's student government, alumni association and athletics, it has come to signal the very best that Blue Raiders expect from one another.
"It's no accident that our #TRUE mark is in the color blue, a true blue," said Andrew Oppmann, MTSU's vice president for marketing and communications. "It's a connection to the ideals the University wishes to share with its students but also our devotion to student success."
The #TRUE campaign was developed by the university's Marketing and Communications Division. The concept team was headed by graphic designer Micah Loyed, who worked with the Nashville Predators before joining the University; web marketing specialist Rob Janson; and Marco Born, associate athletics director for marketing.
"Our collaboration between the athletics and university shops shows that we can practice what we teach," Oppmann said. "By working as a team, we will reach more with our message together than we do separately."
And the collaboration between athletics and university messaging is getting some notice from Conference USA. C-USA officials cited last year's public rollout of MTSU's entry into the conference as an example of how both sides of the house can benefit by working together.
"Athletics is often called 'the front porch' of a university, given its ability to engender fan support and raise the profile of the institution," said Kelly Carney, C-USA's senior associate commissioner. "Teamwork like this makes good business sense."