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Iowa State, We Will Collective launch cobranded vodka with NIL ties

On3 imageby:Andy Wittry08/10/23


Iowa State and We Will Collective announced Thursday the launch of a cobranded line of vodka that results in the collective receiving roughly $1 per bottle sold as part of its NIL fundraising efforts. The vodka is called Iowa State 1858 Vodka. The logos for both Iowa State and We Will Collective will be on the bottle’s label, as well as Iowa State’s mascot, Cy the Cardinal.

We Will Collective worked with Iowa State’s multimedia rights holder LEARFIELD, licensing agent CLC and Iowa Distilling Company to form the vodka partnership.

The initial wave of production calls for 100,000 bottles, according to We Will Collective Executive Director Brent Blum.

“That’ll most likely exceed that really quickly,” Blum said.

The bottles will retail for roughly $23.

“Everybody wins then,” Blum said. “So the school gets money. LEARFIELD gets their money as part of their payment. Then we get – it basically comes out to a dollar per every vodka bottle sold.”

Numerous schools have licensed institutional intellectual property for consumables, such as beer, wine and liquor, as have NIL collectives. However, this announcement involves both a school and the collective that supports its athletes.

“For us, if you’re in a store and you see a vodka with the Iowa State logo and you’re just a casual fan, you’ll probably buy it,” Blum said. “You may not know what the We Will Collective is, though. So, it’s like finding another avenue that you can get the common fan to support, while also then do a unique thing to keep us all going the same direction. So, we’re trying not to fight our corporate partners or LEARFIELD. We’re trying to work with them in some ways.”

We Will Collective releases several licensed drinks

Thursday marked the second day in a row and the third time this summer that We Will Collective announced a licensed beverage. In June, the collective joined some of its peers nationally in announcing a licensed beer, which will help fundraise for the collective. We Will Collective announced We Will Cold Brew on Wednesday, which the coffee company Northern Vessel will produce.

“I’ve learned way too much about distribution channels and alcohol laws than I ever thought I would,” Blum joked.

Blum used to be a part of the LEARFIELD-owned Cyclone Radio Network, which he credits for helping the school, the collective and the multimedia rights holder reach an agreement for Iowa State 1858 Vodka.

“I’ve been around them for a decade,” Blum said. “So, really they came to me this summer and they said, ‘Hey, we’ve seen some of the success of some of the spirit spaces at other places but we also want to remain on the same team and be collaborative here. What would you think of partnering with us on an official vodka for Iowa State and then a portion of the proceeds go to the collective?’

“And I said, ‘Sounds like a winner to me.’ It was a pretty easy decision for us because we get the backing of Iowa State, their large marketing appeal.”

The brewery West O Beer announced Thursday that Ames Lager will be available starting Aug. 24, prior to Iowa State’s football season opener against Northern Iowa. The initial response to the parties’ announcement has been positive and the brewery has plans to purchase additional tanks to increase its brewing capacity, Blum said.

“Ultimately at Iowa State, like we talked about before, we can’t survive on just massive donations,” Blum said. “We have to do this going one direction and this is a way we can win at Iowa State, with everybody succeeding.”