IOWA CITY — October through December was good for all things Hawkeye — including retail sales of University of Iowa products — thanks largely to the football team’s perfect regular season and invitation to the coveted Rose Bowl.
During the last quarter of the year, from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, the university brought in nearly $1.63 million in royalties for invoiced sales of items bearing UI trademarks, according to data provided to The Gazette.
That is more than twice the $727,374 in royalties the university received during the same period the previous year — when the Hawkeyes went to the TaxSlayer Bowl.
It’s also 61 percent above the $1 million in royalties the UI reported for the end of 2011 — the next-best year for royalties since at least 2008, according to UI records. That year, the Hawkeyes lost to the University of Oklahoma Sooners in the Insight Bowl in Arizona.
Of 2015’s $1.63 million in royalties for Hawkeye products — including shirts, hats, keychains, posters, and anything else bearing the black and gold brand — $239,511 included some reference or connection to the Rose Bowl, according to UI licensing director Dale Arens.
Because the end of the year always brings a sales bump — with Hawkeye faithful snagging gear during the back-to-school and holiday seasons — Arens said some of the surge could have come from a rise in alumni enthusiasm nationally.
“You sort of wake up those fans that might be fair-weather fans,” he said. “Maybe they haven’t bought much, but now they’re really excited.”
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Arens said last year’s lucrative fourth quarter also might have been tied to retailer caution following a disappointing 2014 football season that ended with a loss to Tennessee in the TaxSlayer Bowl.
Typically, he said, the third quarter of any year — from July 1 through Sept. 30 — produces the most royalties, as it includes the start of the fall semester and a new football season.
But, he said, some vendors during last year’s third quarter might have been more reserved in their preorders after the previous football season precipitated a 17 percent drop in season ticket sales.
“We were in the doldrums,” Arens said. “(Retailers) were cautious in their reorders going into back-to-school, but then the team continued to win, and their product moved out.”
Natalie Schneckloth, marketing director and assistant manager for the Tailgate clothing store in downtown Iowa City, said she witnessed firsthand the sales impact from the Hawkeye’s first-ever undefeated regular season and first Rose Bowl invitation in 25 years.
“It was honestly the best quarter for us by far — it was something we never could have asked for,” Schneckloth said. “It was amazing.”
Tailgate, which has a store in downtown Iowa City, rolled out several Rose Bowl-specific graphics, for which it took preorders.
“We had a list of more than 300 who were preordering T-shirts,” Schneckloth said. “It was all staff, all hands on deck. We were filling orders and filling them on the floor. It was a zoo in here 24/7.”
Once Rose Bowl reality hit, the shop had to reorder some of its designs as many as three times.
Schneckloth said her staff is hopeful for another amazing sales year.
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“But this is a reactionary business,” she said. “So we will kind of play it by ear.”
University of Iowa trademarks royalties
Below are royalties incurred from Hawkeye trademarks between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31
$599,641 in 2008 — When the Hawkeyes made the Outback Bowl
$804,064 in 2009 — When they made the Orange Bowl
$861,622 in 2010 — When they made the Insight Bowl
$1 million in 2011 — When they made the Insight Bowl
$917,539 in 2012 — When they did not make a bowl
$739,243 in 2013 — When they made the Outback Bowl
$727,374.82 in 2014 — When they made the TaxSlayer Bowl
$1.63 million in 2015 — When they made the Rose Bowl
Source: UI Licensing Director Dale Arens