UCLA athletics’ enhanced branding and marketing efforts are starting to take shape

UCLA’s offense is going to cover a lot more ground this week.

Images of quarterback Josh Rosen and receiver Darren Andrews adorning Metro Rail cars will whoosh along the Blue and Gold lines that run across Southern California. Rosen can be seen clutching a ball in his hands at the end of one car awash in school colors, searching for a receiver. At the far end of the adjacent car, Andrews holds his left hand out as if to signal that he’s open.

Commuters slogging along area freeways might also have caught a glimpse of UCLA’s enhanced branding and marketing efforts less than a week before the team’s season opener against Texas A&M on Sunday at the Rose Bowl.

Nine billboards across the region feature a football player holding his arms up and pointing his thumbs at the back of his new Under Armour jersey. Three nearly identical billboards have been erected in the Bay Area.

The Bruins also are rolling out digital and newspaper ads; a digital commercial; outdoor “wallscapes” at The Grove over the holiday season; banners covering an elevator tower at The Americana at Brand; and a daylong event scheduled for Oct. 7 at Venice Beach that will feature the men’s and women’s basketball teams.

“That’s all stuff we’ve never been able to do before,” said Josh Rebholz, UCLA’s senior associate athletic director for external relations who oversees the department’s marketing efforts.

It’s all made possible by UCLA’s record 15-year, $280-million deal with Under Armour that includes a yearly $1-million outlay for marketing purposes, allowing the school’s athletic department to more than triple its previous marketing budget.

The Bruins hope the huge bump in resources can help them claim a bigger slice of a crowded local sports market that now includes 11 professional teams in addition to crosstown rival USC.

“I think it’s going to work to the degree that it’s getting the UCLA brand out there, it’s getting people thinking about UCLA, but it ultimately depends on how well UCLA does the first several games, really,” George Belch, a marketing professor at San Diego State, said of the efforts to promote the Bruins football team.

“I think we’ve gotten to this position where it’s like, man, if you’re not winning almost every game, if you’re not competing for the Pac-12 title or if you’re not a top-10 team, it’s like, OK, we’ve got other options, we’re…

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