If you follow all the college football preseason polls and predictions, you already know that the Florida State Seminoles are expected to be one of the top teams in the country this season and are not expected to lose too many games. One matchup that they have already lost recently is the fight against Seminole High School, to stop their use of the Seminole name (and logo) as a mascot. Margi Baskerville Nanney gave a wonderful inside story on how Southeast High School (David) took on Florida State University (Goliath) and won.
It all started with a letter……
On August 23, 2010 the School District of Manatee County received a letter from The Collegiate Licensing Company stating that the school district had ten days to stop using the Seminole logo and specific wording of SEMINOLES, NOLES and spear design. The Collegiate Licensing Company sent 200 similar letters throughout the country that same day. Only one school district fought back and that was Manatee County.
Florida State University Southeast High School
Tallahassee, FL Bradenton, FL
Founded in 1851 Founded in 1959
40,000 Students 1,350 Students
Southeast High School’s case:
- Who owns what?
- Green Bay Packers logo looks a lot like Georgia Bulldogs logo
- Atlanta Braves and Alabama Crimson Tide logos are similar
- Calculating the odds of winning
- FSU ignored initial request to negotiate
- Public sentiment was in Southeast’s favor
- Media sentiment in Southeast’s favor
- Extensive legal experience with School Board’s legal counsel (who was also a UF graduate)
- Strategy: Combine fast paced PR tactics with a solid legal position. “Seize the moment”
- Rich tradition for Southeast High School and the “David vs. Goliath” role
- Seminole Tribe was on Southeast’s side
“They were aware of Southeast’s use of the logo for many years and never had issues with it…after that long, there is no issue with the use of the marks.” – John Bowen, Manatee School Board attorney
What Southeast Did:
- Command the media and tell the story to the masses
- Press conference two days after initial letter was received
- Involved Superintendant, students, athletes
- Garnered national coverage
- Used the football history between the two schools:
- Coaches: Florida State’s Bobby Bowden and Southeast’s Paul Maechtle. The two coaches worked together for years during recruiting, etc.
- Former Southeast students who went on to star at FSU: Peter Warrick and Adrian McPherson
- In 1994, Southeast’s band played during a FSU football game (in full gear and logos)
- Refused to accept the deal of phasing the logo out in five years
The Final Score:
- November 12: Agreement was reached for Southeast to have perpetual use of the logo and Seminole name.
David 1 Goliath 0