On June 29, 2018, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Buzz will no longer be wearing his signature Converse high-top sneakers due to the new apparel contract with Adidas. Instead, the mascot will be wearing an as-of-yet unrevealed pair of Adidas footwear beginning with the Yellow Jackets’ first home game against Alcorn State.
While the change should not be unexpected — Converse is a subsidiary of Nike — it may come as a surprise to many fans since the sneakers are an iconic part of Buzz’s uniform. Even something as seemingly inconsequential as a choice of footwear can have strong implications for the future of Adidas’s management of the Tech brand.
Buzz has worn black Converse high-tops since the mascot’s official recognition in 1980. The shoe has been woven into the brand of Buzz ever since, becoming as much a part of the tradition as the mascot’s antics themselves.
Each iteration of the costume has included the sneakers, while several official icons featuring Buzz display him in the signature high-top shoes.
The cheerleaders who perform as Buzz have traditionally revealed themselves during graduation ceremonies by donning the mascot’s shoes while they walk across the stage.
To renounce this key part of the tradition without a hint of ceremony seems almost disrespectful given the strong association the shoe has with the mascot. There has been no public announcement regarding the change from Adidas or from the Georgia Tech Athletic Association, nor any confirmation on the new style of shoe Buzz will be wearing come fall.
Will Buzz be wearing a shoe in a similar style to the Converse high-top sneaker, or will he be wearing a more contemporary Adidas brand? Should we wait with bated breath to see if Buzz will stroll onto the field sporting the newest Yeezy?
If nothing else, the Tech community deserves some form of assurance that this change will attempt to preserve the tradition it is uprooting.
Such an iconic piece of the Georgia Tech brand does not deserve to be left in limbo for so long.
So far, the changes Adidas and the Athletic Association have announced put an emphasis on preserving the tradition of the Georgia Tech brand while modernizing and standardizing its use.
At least publicly, the partnership has made commitments to preserve the traditions of the Institute in its rebranding process.
Even something as simple as the use of block lettering in the new Tech athletic marks shows that the branding team has done their research into the history of the school’s branding and is making an effort to integrate that history into the current lettering.
The rebranding effort’s careful attention to the history of Tech’s brand makes me hopeful that they will afford the same attention to the new style of shoe Buzz will be wearing.
It is possible that the new shoes Buzz will be sporting will evoke the style and feel of the old Converse sneakers much in the same way our new athletic mark calls upon the block lettering used in our past.
It remains to see exactly what Adidas will do until the first football match of the season.
If the choice proves unpopular with fans, it will be a very poor impression for Adidas to leave so early into their partnership.
The shoes they choose should instead seek to preserve the dedication to tradition they have already demonstrated.
Tech fans have already endured a poor brand deal for several years with Russell Athletics. I do not imagine they will be so quick to endure another.