USC Football and J1S Launch 'BLVD Studios'
LOS ANGELES — In preparation for advancements in name, image, and likeness (NIL) rights for student-athletes next year, USC Football announced an alliance with J1S to launch BLVD Studios. The innovative in-house creative lab will provide resources, education, and strategy to help student-athletes build, promote, and leverage their brands and maximize their market value.
"Being able to bring in J1S and BLVD Studios to focus on the student-athlete and their brand marketing is huge for us. This is a new landscape in college football and to be successful you have to be proactive," said USC Football Head Coach Clay Helton.
J1S is an industry-leading creative agency that helps brands connect to the next generation. They previously partnered with Georgia Tech and Oklahoma football, as well as several professional athletes and Fortune 500 companies.
The deeply integrated and exclusive partnership between USC, J1S and BLVD Studios is unlike any such NIL program or agency collaboration in college sports. USC will be their only client west of Texas, and one of just five J1S partners in college football.
BLVD Studios has developed a comprehensive, 360-degree approach to marketing, branding, and NIL initiatives for USC Football student-athletes:
- Education: Annual curriculum focused on individual brand growth, social media strategy, market opportunities, and financial literacy
- Data and Reporting: Full-service platform to track content performance, understand key metrics and social media analytics such as engagement rates and audience demographics, and cutting-edge media valuation technology to assess the value of social media posts
- Brand Management: Ideation, production, and distribution of content creation for social channels, day-to-day operational needs, and personalized marketing strategies for current athletes and coaches
- Brand Narrative: Capture branding trends and concepts throughout Los Angeles and college football and take a big picture approach to enhance the storytelling of USC Football athletes
BLVD Studios will direct and produce athlete-driven content elements such as custom graphics and logos, photography, videos, podcasts, and more.
The name BLVD Studios is a nod to the pageantry and symbolism of the famous boulevards that define Los Angeles as the epicenter of opportunity and entertainment, possibility and imagination. A city built on stars, BLVD Studios encapsulates the unmatched combination of USC's academic and athletic tradition with Los Angeles' business and media opportunities, giving athletes the biggest and best stage to build their brands.
To coincide with the launch, BLVD Studios unveiled its first campaign, #BLVDBound, which captures the spirit of Los Angeles as the city where stars shine brightest. Like celebrity footprints on Hollywood Boulevard, #BLVDBound represents the idea that the Los Angeles platform creates the opportunity for USC athletes to leave a legacy that cannot be achieved elsewhere in college athletics. The #BLVDBound campaign will feature a new visual direction and modernized social media brand for USC Football that will transform its digital presence and enhance the brands of its athletes.
BLVD Studios merchandise is available online at the USC Bookstore. USC fans can get first access to the same BLVD products worn by USC Football coaches, athletes, and former players by clicking here.
USC Football is one of the most iconic brands in sports, in the largest market in the country for college athletics, and on the grandest stage in the world. USC Football's competitive success is well documented: 11 National Championships, 25 Rose Bowl victories, 6 Heisman Trophy winners, 13 Pro Football Hall of Famers, and 82 NFL first round draft picks.
In 2019, USC Football appeared in 13 nationally televised games, including on ABC, ESPN, FOX, and NBC. USC Athletics maintains a strong social media presence, including a national best 1.38 million social media interactions during a four-month period in 2020, according to SkullSparks. AthleticDirectorU ranked USC Athletics as the third most engaged social media program in the country.
Many former USC Trojans and current NFL stars have demonstrated the power of leveraging their platforms. Recent standouts JuJu Smith-Schuster and Michael Pittman Jr. boast YouTube subscriber numbers of more than 1 million and 300,000, respectively. Former Trojans also dominate the sports media airwaves: Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush host Fox's Big Noon Kickoff Show, Mark Sanchez and Keyshawn Johnson have prominent roles at ESPN, and Willie McGinest serves as an analyst on the NFL Network.
J1S is led by Founder and CEO Michael Calvin Jones, who spent four years leading creative teams for college football programs, including at Texas A&M. The BLVD Studios project lead will be Santino Stancato, Head of Creative/Brand Strategy at J1S, who rose to fame as the first Football Brand Manager in the Power Five at Georgia Tech. Andrew Stewart, the Head of Digital Production for J1S, formerly a Senior Producer for the University of South Carolina who revolutionized college football video productions, and Logan Hawk, a creative strategy lead with experience at Texas A&M and most recently Texas Tech, will also play critical roles in the development of BLVD Studios.
Jones, Stancato, Stewart, Hawk and the rest of J1S's team will join forces with USC Football's existing creative team, which features nationally recognized video producer Will Stout and graphic designer Alex Verdugo.
"The alliance with USC Football sets a new standard by placing one of the most iconic programs at the forefront of innovation, all while sitting in college football's media capital. The potential is limitless," said Jones.
In January 2020, USC Athletics announced a multi-year athletic-department-wide partnership with INFLCR to support brand development and content distribution, including of BLVD Studios productions, for all Trojan student-athletes and men's and women's sports programs.
An INFLCR study from August 2020 stated that, "USC Football Standouts Highlight the Potential for Future College Athletes to Leverage their Social Media Brands." The report notes that an "audit of the social media accounts of USC football players on the 2019 roster found that they held an audience valued at more than $680,000 annually on social-media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter." The same audit revealed that 20% of scholarship athletes on the 2019 team "had an audience on social media large enough to be valued at more than $10,000 annually."