Ragin’ Cajun fans have always had pride in their team, but the number of ways they can show that pride has been rising, especially over the past year. Whether tailgating, attending a community function or dressing in black-tie, Cajuns fans have a plethora of gear and accessories to help them cheer their team to victory.
Matthew Tarver is assistant director of brand management and creative services at UL Lafayette, which means it’s his job to increase awareness of the Ragin’ Cajun brand and protect that fleur-de-lis logo fans have come to recognize and love.“Since our fans are so passionate and the university is so connected to the community, we are trying to develop products that are fun ways for our fans to connect,” he says. “It’s cool to see a product on the shelf with our logo that you can consume in different ways.”
Whether fans are alums themselves, have children who are attending the university or are just what Tarver likes to call“adopted Cajuns,” people in the Lafayette area love to sport their red and black. Through collegiate licensing, UL is giving them more and more opportunities to express that pride by purchasing officially licensed products co-branded with local retailers.
At the beginning of 2014, Gridiron Décor became licensed to manufacture and sell Ragin’ Cajun fire pits, on sale at Busch’s Fireplaces. Available in three sizes with the university logo cut into the side, this high-end product allows fans to cook their favorite recipes and show off their UL Lafayette pride at the same time. If that’s not enough, funding from the sale of the pits goes directly to the University Alumni Association.
In the spring, UL began offering graduates a different way to show off their academic achievement. Through Uploma, gradates can purchase a three dimensional, customizable, tower-like desktop diploma that can be personalized with the university logo.
In apparel, Southern Marsh now has a Ragin’ Cajun line that’s available at Brother’s on the Boulevard, and an agreement with Polo by Ralph Lauren over the summer resulted in hats, shirts and pants co-branded with UL.
For crafty fans who want to make their own accessories, Fabriques on Kaliste Saloom Road is now the exclusive officially licensed manufacturer of Ragin’ Cajuns fabric. Displaying the university athletic word mark and the beloved fleur-de-lis, fabric is available to make items such as curtains, pillows, blankets or pajamas.
In October, Dianna Rae jewelry, located in River Ranch, began selling officially licensed Ragin’ Cajuns jewelry. Fans can show off their school spirit through an original cufflink, pair of earrings or pendant, or create a fully customized piece.
For homecoming in November, the university began selling Ragin’ Cajuns Strong Championship Blend coffee, the result of a licensing partnership with Mello Joy Coffee. The commemorative red, white and black bag celebrates the five Sun Belt Conference championships the Ragin’ Cajuns won during the 2013-14 athletic seasons and is available at more than 30 retail locations in Acadiana.
Just in time for Christmas, UL debuted a new line of Game Day cowboy boots for men and women. The boots let fans proudly display an embroidered logo in school colors on the heel, toe and shaft.
The university’s Red Zone store is the best spot for Ragin’ Cajuns branded apparel in town and carries the coffee and cowboy boots. Many items, including the Polo collection and Uploma, are also available at the University Bookstore on campus. Other retailers in the area that carry Ragin’ Cajun branded products include, but aren’t limited to, Academy Sports + Outdoors, Albertson’s, Bengals & Bandits, Caroline & Company, Golfballs.com, Champagne’s Market, JCPenney, Louisiana Hot Stuff, Parish Ink, Pieces of Eight, Target and Walgreens. A complete list is available online at http://ocm.louisiana.edu/retailers.
“We’re always looking for opportunities to expand our brand,” says Tarver. “We don’t want to limit where people can buy our products.” Many items, like the fabric, have come at the request of fans and Tarver says he’s always happy to explore new avenues for merchandise.
Local manufacturers helping to represent the culture here and keep profits local is a win-win for the university and everyone involved. “Our people are our nickname,” says Tarver. “They are our Ragin’ Cajuns, and they’re the only ones in the world at a university.”