Between the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo flirting with leaving Las Vegas and the Las Vegas Wranglers hockey team looking for a new arena for next season, there’s one word that has received a lot of attention — Wrangler.
Wrangler jeans brand name has received literally thousands of mentions in the past six weeks through social media, TV and radio broadcast and print coverage because of the rodeo and hockey story lines.
It’s free publicity for the Wrangler brand — and it’s not costing a dime.
“It’s certainly interesting those two things are happening at the same time. There’s no such thing as bad press,” said Nancy Lough, a professor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who teaches sports marketing and is president of the Sport Marketing Association.
“It’s interesting the two angles are not positive, but weighing in positively for the Wrangler brand.”
The Wranglers hockey team is drawing media coverage because the 11-year-old ECHL team is looking for a new rink to call home next season because its current digs — Orleans Arena — declined to renew the lease with the club.
League officials last week gave the Wranglers a two-week extension to find a new home. If the minor league hockey team can’t find new home ice for next season, then Las Vegas will lose the Wranglers. But Wranglers officials are hopeful they will find a venue in Las Vegas for next season.
Then, there’s the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, the annual 10-day Super Bowl of rodeos, which nearly departed Las Vegas after 2014 for a new home in either central Florida or Dallas after 29 years in Southern Nevada.
That was avoided when the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the event’s sanctioning organization, and Las Vegas Events, the event organizer and marketer, agreed Friday to a new 10-year extension to keep the rodeo event in Las Vegas.
Wrangler is the title sponsor of the National Finals Rodeo. The jeans brand is an ideal fit with the rodeo because contestants have worn Wranglers for decades.
It’s just a coincidence that the Las Vegas minor league hockey team’s name is the brand name of the jeans.
The Wrangler jeans brand is owned by VF Corp., based in Greensboro, N.C. VF Corp. also owns the Lee, JanSport and The North Face brands.
Wrangler is a well-established brand, so Lough wondered whether all the publicity and mentions of Wrangler was moving jeans off the shelves at retail spots in Las Vegas.
“Are you moving more product?” she said.
At one of the two Sheplers stores in Las Vegas, store manager Brandon Charlton said the news about the Wranglers hockey team and Wrangler NFR has given the Wrangler name some publicity but he hasn’t seen a spike in sales because of the Wrangler public mentions.
Wrangler jeans officials did not return calls to comment.
Kurt Ouchida, managing partner of marketing and communications company BRAINtrust, said the bounty of name publicity can cut both ways for Wrangler.
“If you subscribe to the old adage that ‘any press is good press as long as they spell your name right,’ then this is a good example of free publicity,” Ouchida said.
“But, sometimes free publicity comes at a price, especially if brand recognition or identity is at stake,” he said. “Other than the name, is there a relevant link between two diametrically different brands? If not, the cost to the brand is confusion in the market place — a real head-scratcher for consumers.”
Contact reporter Alan Snel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-5273. Follow at @BicycleManSnel on Twitter.