By Barry Janoff
November 2, 2015: In a coordinated military-style maneuver worthy of Veteran's Day, Operation Hat Trick – an organization that markets college-branded hats with a military theme — is launching a national campaign to include logoed hats from 33 universities created by the Lids division of '47, the exclusive headwear and apparel partner for OHT.
The effort also includes 200 Lids retail destinations and supporting multi-platform marketing.
Under the auspices of the Collegiate Licensing Company, the licensing affiliate of IMG College, the campaign coincides with each participating school’s Military Appreciation Day college football game throughout November.
CLC is developing and providing its partners with OHT social media tool kits, graphics and marketing activations. Lids will support with social media, Web banners, e-mail blasts, SMS messages, mobile app banners and an in-store audio and video spot.
The campaign comes with the tag line, "They promised to defend. We promise to support."
Among the university's involved in the OTH program are Alabama, Arizona State, Auburn, Boston College, Cal-Berkley, Clemson (pictured below), Colorado, FSU, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisville, Loyola, LSU, Maryland, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Penn State, Purdue, San Diego State, South Carolina, Syracuse, Tennessee, UCLA, Washington State, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
According to Dot Sheehan, founder and president for Operation Hat Trick, OHT's "primary objective is to generate awareness and support for the recovery of wounded service members and veterans through the sale of OHT-branded merchandise," proceeds of which are donated to selected organizations.
“It’s humbling that OHT has been so greatly supported by more than 250 universities, major and minor leagues, high schools and companies," said Sheehan. "College is where OHT started and there is tremendous support and activation by all college fans.
"I’m especially grateful for CLC’s leadership from Day One and their vision in helping to bring OHT to the national stage, including working with ’47 and Lids on this Veteran’s Day/Salute to Service month," said Sheehan.
According to OHT, more than 250,000 of its hats have been sold over the past two and a half years, with proceeds being donated to those organizations that aid OHT's mission to "support the recovery of wounded service members and veterans."
“We are deeply moved and motivated by OHT’s devotion to American military veterans (and) the willingness of universities to leverage their powerful brands to support our veterans," said Cory Moss, svp and managing director for CLC.
Under a separate Military Appreciation Day college football initiative from adidas, schools nationwide plan to wear alternative uniforms that honor the military, including North Carolina State and Miami (Fla.).
Adidas this season also unveiled the Dark Ops Collection, inspired by footwear and accessories worn by the elite forces of the U.S. military. Arizona State University debuted the cleats in honor of Pat Tillman, an ASU alumni and safety for the NFL's Arizona Cardinals, who lost his life n 2004 while a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment stationed in Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, the NBA will honor the nation’s military this Veterans Day with its annual Hoops for Troops Week (Nov. 3-11). NBA players and officials will wear special on-court apparel, including adidas shooting shirts and sweatshirts, as well as Stance socks honoring members of the military.
According to the league, through its Commitment to Service program, teams will work "side-by-side with the military to participate in various service projects across the U.S. to support local communities."
Hoops for Troops shooting shirts are available for purchase at NBAStore.com, with a portion of sales being donated to the USO.
OHT was founded in the fall of 2007 after Sheehan, who at the time was was senior associate athletics director for the University of New Hampshire, heard a radio broadcast explaining that hats were the item most requested by soldiers with head injuries returning to the U.S. in order to hide their scars, swelling and bandages.
The name Operation Hat Trick was inspired by UNH's nationally ranked men’s and women’s hockey teams.
“I was initially surprised that something so seemingly simple could have such a significant effect on those with head injuries,” Sheehan said. “On our first trip to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in 2009, a seriously burned soldier said as I handed him a hat, ‘Ma'am, you’ve almost made me feel normal again today.’”
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