Many folks contacted me afterward and today asking if I was ok and, of course, how it went. My delay in posting was actually mundane: I was sleepy and I had Life to do. I read every one of the e-mails I received from my last post (nearly 600 emails, and they're still coming!) and I needed to sleep. And do laundry. Because my husband and I were completely out of socks. This also is not my day job, or even my night job, really. I am not a writer. I barely know how to use a comma. And by barely, I mean not really at all. I am flattered though that so many of you poked me with a digital, internet stick to make sure I wasn't dead.
Ok, the good stuff. If you are a fan of spoilers (or tl;dr, too long; didn't read) skip to the last section.
I should preface: Athletics did not ask me to stay silent. They didn't threaten my job or me. They did not offer me anything, which was really really smart of them. By all accounts, the folks I met with were friendly Humans with kids and jobs and lives with no intentions of assimilating me into a creepy machine. They also did not ask me to cover for them, which is cool, since I was already not going to do that.
So, what did we talk about then?
The FSU Athletics representatives explained that this was a meeting to clear the air and be more transparent to me and those of you interested in what I have to say. This meeting was not at all about my alternate logo design. Zero. I was the only one to acknowledge it existed, except for one representative who vented about how annoyed he was to get a phonecall about it on his cell phone. I am not surprised at the lack of mention, just confused about the idea that they brought me there because I have some kind of Rebel Alliance I control. Nah man, just me and my computer. Well, and the thousands of ticked off fans and alums.
Here, translated into Jodi-speak, is what Athletics said:
Who was consulted (and who was not)
This process of FSU Athletics branding changes started a long while ago, long before the Coach's Trophy was a twinkle in our eye(s). Interestingly enough, FSU went to Nike asking to re-evaluate our Athletic identity. Their concern was that there was little uniformity in logos across sports. S
They explained that their process included former players, current players, current coaches, Seminole Boosters and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Still not sure at which part of the process, but let's keep going. They told me a person at least somewhat related to each of these groups evaluated the logo at some stage of the process and the approval button was hit to unveil it. The Athletic Department feels that they did their due diligence in contacting and getting "approval" from each and every one of these groups.
The Athletic Department admitted that they never intended to include other fans or alumni (that do not work at the University) in focus groups. There was all but an eye roll to the idea of a fan polling because "you have to stop your focus group somewhere." Ok, then I strongly disagree on where you stopped it. In my profession, you have to communicate to your target audience to be effective. Their target audience was clearly only those on the "inside" of the University. High level folks. Top. Men.
The idea was thrown to me that the majority of fans, Boosters, and alums like the new logo but they're afraid to say anything. I know there are people who like the logo. I acknowledge they exist. Some of these people have personally contacted me, and I encourage that. Are they a majority? I don't think anyone knows that, even athletics. But what I can't do is refute an argument against a theoretical group of people, this "silent majority"they speak of. I could come out and say that one hundred thousand fluffy bunnies hate the logo, but until they type out e-mails with their little bunny paws you have no way of telling me they don't. Even though I can see it in their eyes. And their twitchy little noses. And you can't tell me I'm wrong.
The Athletics representatives explained to me that they believed, in their heart of hearts, that the changes they were making were subtle. Let's live in a world where that is accurate for a moment and keep going. They explained that, unlike other Universities that have more completely shifted their athletic logos, this was merely a retooling of a classic. Their example was Arizona State University in 2011. Ok, so let's look at what happened at ASU:
ASU went through an Athletics rebranding in 2011, the crux of which was to have the Trident instead of Sparky on the side of football helmets. But did they get rid of Sparky or change him? No. At least not without fan/alum input. The ASU news site lists groups included in their redesign process and a curious group comes up: fans. In fact, their fans vehemently disliked the new Sparky mascot costume redesign so much that they later went to a fan poll where the fans and alums chose the design. During their fiasco one fan even wrote:
“(We) support ASU 110 percent, but sometimes just can’t understand why ASU wants to change a good thing. Change isn’t always a good thing.”Yeah. We feel you. To bring it all home, the redesign at ASU was done by, you guessed it, Nike. FSU Athletics was also quick to dismiss MSU's Nike logo disaster as not at all similar to ours.
Can this logo change?
|583 e-mails, less than one day for me.|
So what will I do? Social media is the only tool we have to realize the changes we would like to see with our University's image. And I, with a real or imagined responsibility to those who have contacted me and still to share my opinion/support my redesign, will continue to carry the voices of so many to Athletics. I will continue to voice my opinions in a professional manner until I hear official statements from the groups athletics "consulted" during this design process. Then, and only then, will I just be a good girl. Because I do not think this is too big for us to change, but I cannot do it alone, and we cannot do it by just contacting Athletics. The folks in Athletics have been getting a lot of e-mails and phone calls about this. A lot. In fact, I printed nearly 600 of the e-mails folks sent me, spiral bound them, and personally handed them off. Is 600 a representative sample size? Of course not. But it is something, and I feel those e-mails, only five of which are in favor of the new logo, represent the majority opinion of fans and alumni.
This is not fun. For either side in this family feud. And it has, unfortunately, gotten personal on both sides. I really, honestly, wish it wouldn't. This has caused a rift in our Seminole Nation and it stems from institutional arrogance and, believe it or not, poor communication.
[Edit 4.16.14: I will reiterate that name calling is not cool in my book. Venting frustrations, fine. Directed personal attacks? Not fine and also not really effective. We're all Noles and will all be going to the same stadium when this is over, so let's not make it super awkward. Still...that doesn't mean I can't have an express an opinion.]
For more info, see the article posted online today on Tallahassee Democrat's website (in print on Monday, I believe) by Ira Schoffel. I also did a video interview with Paul Flemming of the Democrat talking about the amazing responses I've received and how it was just bananas. Like a whole bunch of bananas. Either way, thank you all for the love and support. Seriously.