SANTA ANA PUEBLO – Earlier this month, Gildan Activewear, Inc., broke the Guinness World Record for the largest T-shirt ever made: 181 feet wide, 281 feet long.
If the shirt fits, wear it.
And if the college bowl game fits, sponsor it.
On Monday, it was announced that Gildan will become title sponsor of the New Mexico Bowl for the next three years. The Montreal-based apparel manufacturing company has an option to extend the agreement beyond that.
“This is a great day for us,” New Mexico Bowl executive director Jeff Siembieda said at a news conference at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort.
Who, and what, is Gildan? According to a news release, Gildan “sells T-shirts, sport shirts and fleece as undecorated ‘blanks’, which are subsequently decorated by screenprinters with designs and logos.”
Gildan also has acquired ownership of several brands of socks, including the popular Gold Toe. Gildan is the exclusive licenser in the United States for socks sold with Under Armour and New Balance labels.
Gold Toe Field Goal of the Game? Don’t bet against it.
Gildan, said President and CEO Glenn Chamandy, is betting its sponsorship of the New Mexico Bowl will enhance the company’s effort to broaden its name recognition.
“We’ve sold over 4 billion garments since we began making them in 1993,” Chamandy said. “The average person could have 30 of our shirts in his drawer but not necessarily know the name.
“(Sponsorship of the New Mexico Bowl) is a way to build a relationship between the product (the average person) is buying and our brand.”
The New Mexico Bowl, owned and operated by ESPN Regional Television, has scheduled its sixth installment for Dec. 17 at University Stadium. The Mountain West and Pac-10 conferences will provide the participating teams.
“When we started this,” said Clint Overby, ESPN’s senior director of events, “there was always the intention and the vision to find the right fit from corporate America.”
Overby credited Rusty Reed, ESPN’s director of event sales and marketing, with getting Gildan in the game.
“It’s a great fit,” Overby said.
Gildan’s partnership with the New Mexico Bowl is the company’s first venture as a title sponsor, but not its first major marketing effort. The aforementioned monster T-shirt was created for the Country Music Association Music Festival in Nashville, Tenn.
“We’re growing big by staying small; that’s part of our strategy,” Chamandy said. “… That’s sort of our key, finding ways to go slowly and build our business and have fun doing it.
“Giving back to the community is another reason we’re participating in this.”
The New Mexico Bowl began life in 2006 as a partnership between ESPN and the New Mexico Sports Authority. Its five games have had an average attendance of 29,280.
A redesigned New Mexico Bowl logo, reflecting Gildan’s involvement, was unveiled on Monday.
Designer Tom DeLisle, Siembieda said, “made sure that we kept New Mexico in it, that the blue skies are there, that the mountains are prominent, that the Zia (Symbol) is part of what we do.”
— This article appeared on page D1 of the Albuquerque Journal