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ICLA Announces 2017 Synergy Award Winner

April 13, 2017

CLEVELAND -- The International Collegiate Licensing Association (ICLA) has announced Fresno State as its 2017 Synergy Award Winner. 

The Synergy Award is given annually to an exceptional "team" on campus or from a conference that has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to collegiate licensing over the course of the past year that has directly contributed to the betterment of the industry and the institution or organization. The team must also have made significant contributions to the collegiate licensing industry through innovative or new ideas during the current academic year, have played a vital role on campus and in the industry through their leadership, and have demonstrated teamwork/involvement from multiple components in the licensing process.

"The ICLA Officers and Board of Directors are proud to recognize Clarence Chiong and the Fresno State Trademark Licensing Program as the recipient of the 2017 Synergy Award," stated Rachael Bickerton, ICLA President and Director of Trademark Licensing and Enforcement at Boise State University. "Through Clarence's vision and dedication, and creative programs, the awareness of the Fresno State brand has experienced unprecedented growth within the last year. He has gone above and beyond to educate and engage the Fresno State community throughout the year's campaign, further strengthening both the university brand and our collegiate licensing industry."

As the first full year the Trademark Licensing Office had been housed outside of the athletic department, one of Chiong's focuses this year was to improve and strengthen the relationship between the office and the entire campus community. An existing grass roots program put on by University Student Union Productions was the perfect opportunity. The promotion, Bulldog Wednesdays, encourages students to wear Bulldog gear on campus the first Wednesday of each month. The Trademark Licensing Office partnered with the University Student Union Productions to enhance and improve the current promotion by promoting items of the month, creating retail signage for the bookstore to promote the featured items, and securing prizes for Bulldog Wednesday contests. Through this partnership they created a win for the retailer, students, and licensees.

During 2016, Chiong also continued to build on already-existing relationships with external constituents to create more buy-in. Over the years, he has created a unique number of events to both thank these retailers and licensees as well create more exposure for their products. The Trademark Licensing Office hosted receptions during both a home men's basketball game and on a November Saturday that held both a home men's basketball and home football game to showcase licensed product and allow the opportunity for retailers and licensees to interact in a social atmosphere. In addition to the showcase receptions, the Trademark Licensing Office partnered with these outside parties to create unique brand experiences. The highlight of this program was partnering with the local licensee that provides Fresno State gear to Save Mart Supermarkets. These general merchandise buyers were invited to campus for a behind-the-scenes guided tour of the campus arena named for their retailer, ending with a reception and presentation of the upcoming season's apparel in the arena's locker rooms. This experience provided an opportunity to provide these purchasers with an inside look into the brand they are responsible for championing.

Perhaps most telling about the Fresno State Trademark Licensing Office's recent successes is the staff's ability to put a creative and uniquely Fresno State spin on traditional marketing strategies. One projecting highlighting this is this year's in-store marketing collateral with retailers. Going above and beyond traditional marketing collateral, the Trademark Licensing Office created innovative hanging signage; free standing mascot cut-outs; and an interactive, reprogrammable video screen rack-topper to not only promote the Fresno State brand, but the office's current campaigns. A second example was a collaboration between headwear licensee, New Era, and the university's licensing agency, the Collegiate Licensing Company, to create a Fresno State-themed hat to be part of the Paul George Collection by New Era. A Fresno State alum and basketball stand-out, Paul George's NBA and Olympic success dramatically expands the reach of the Fresno State brand with this single hat, as well as laying the foundation for future development opportunities with other Fresno State alumni and former student-athletes.

The most prominent project of 2016, however, has been Chiong's "Check the Tags" campaign. This comprehensive project included efforts throughout the year to educate the Fresno State community on the importance of purchasing licensed Fresno State apparel and products. The "Check the Tags" Campaign was inspired by Fresno State's athletic primary mark, as well as the tags worn by both the live mascot, Victor E. Bulldog, and the costumed mascot, TimeOut. The Trademark Licensing Office created videos and promotional signage to promote the campaign's message throughout the campus and at athletic and retailer/licensee events, in addition to Trademark Licensing Office communication. Through Fresno State's media rights holder, Learfield, the Trademark Licensing Office was also able to secure additional marketing opportunities at university athletic events. The climax of this project was a partnership with the athletic department to purchase new team bench chairs for the men's and women's basketball teams. The athletic department was looking into purchasing new chairs, but delayed the project another year to save money. In a win-win for both departments, the Office of Trademark Licensing purchased new chairs to replace the old, uncomfortable, outdated logoed chairs in return for including the "Check the Tags" branded message on the kick plates. This partnership secured exposure for the "Check the Tags" message and the university's brand at all athletic events in the arena throughout the year and beyond.

The Fresno State program continues to demonstrate a commitment to collegiate licensing and the university brand, finding unique, effective, and collaborative ways to better their department and the industry as a whole. An Oakland native, Chiong began working at Fresno State in athletics marketing following his graduation in 1997 and began managing the Trademark Licensing program in 1999.