Wolverine Maize and Blue Collar Campaign | 6th Hashtag Sports Awards

Wolverine Maize and Blue Collar Campaign

Wolverine Boots & Apparel

The 6th Annual Awards

Nominee ✨
  • Best College Sports Partnership


Wolverine’s “Maize and Blue Collar” campaign was built upon the shared hardworking values of Wolverine brand, the 140-year-old work boot company, and the Michigan Wolverines, the gritty and tenacious football team that would go on to win the National Championship.

Through synergetic storytelling of resilience, relentlessness, and a constant blue-collar spirit, Wolverine was able to leverage the mainstream appeal of college football to form an authentic NIL partnership with a roster of athletes, in turn amplifying the brand’s core values. Tactics included a digital content series, purpose-led PR event activations, owned and paid media strategies, and custom product.


How does this represent “Excellence in Engagement”?

While many NIL sponsorships simply leverage a player’s celebrity status to endorse a product, Wolverine’s 2023 Maize and Blue Collar campaign took player partnerships to a deeper level. The campaign used storytelling–in the form of real, engaging, authentic perspectives from individual athletes–to hammer home brand values and attributes. In doing so, the brand delivered content that fans wanted to watch and engage with, rather than merely creating advertisements. Additionally, the campaign wasn’t limited to just one athlete or a handful of athletes. Rather, it was built upon brand congruence with the culture and journey of an entire team and program.

On top of the authenticity and synergy of Wolverine’s NIL partnership, the campaign represents excellence in engagement through its cross-channel integration and consistency. Activations and tactics across channels continuously spotlighted the Wolverines’ hard work on their way to the national title. An exclusive Maize and Blue Collar work boot was launched, a giveaway and special Wolverine.com promotions brought new prospects and customers into the brand, and an inside cover spread ad placement in Sports Illustrated’s commemorative issue further celebrated a historic season and partnership. From start to finish, the campaign offered unique experiences to engage and inspire fans and consumers.


Wolverine, the 140-year-old work boot and apparel brand, is currently the market share leader in its category. However, as older generations exit the workforce and fewer young people choose to pursue careers in blue-collar professions, the need to maintain and grow relevance became evermore apparent. That’s why Wolverine set out to expand brand awareness with new households.

But what do work boots have in common with football? On the surface, perhaps not a lot. However, a consumer segmentation study revealed that Wolverine’s target audience seeks a brand that is tough, a brand that helps them feel confident, and a product that allows them to perform at their best. These same attributes–toughness, confidence, and peak performance–are displayed to their fullest on the gridiron each Saturday in the fall.

With college football amassing viewership rivalling that of professional sports and nearly half of trades workers watching college football, the opportunity surfaced: Leverage the interest and energy around college football to generate brand awareness amongst new audiences by partnering with athletes who embody the brand.

Through this NIL campaign, Wolverine sought to drive extended social media reach and engagement, grow the brand’s CRM audience, and ignite brand heat as measured by media impressions.

Strategy & Execution

It’s no surprise that Wolverine brand shares a name with the Michigan Wolverines, but the parallels that drove this idea go far deeper. Legendary coach Jim Harbaugh is known for championing a blue-collar work ethic, going as far as establishing the annual “Blue Collar Award” to honor the team’s hardest worker. Above all, the team was returning to finish a job. After back-to-back playoff berths ending in defeat, the team’s ongoing mantra was “job’s not finished,” a fitting theme for Wolverine’s core audience who would never leave a job undone in their own professions.

Wolverine’s Maize and Blue Collar campaign centered around a video series aimed to appeal to the large and highly-engaged Michigan football fanbase while also bolstering key brand attributess. Each installment focused on an individual member of the roster and their associations to Wolverine. Blake Corum spoke to his blue-collar upbringing and lessons learned watching his parents build their livelihood from the ground up. Tight end Colston Loveland spoke to his “brick-by-brick” philosophy and the diligence required to perform at his best. Videos were strategically scheduled on Sunday mornings through social media collaboration posts, spotlighting an athlete who played especially well the day prior to maximize engagement.


  • Wolverine Boots & Apparel
  • Valiant Management Group


  • Benjamin Hall
  • Blake Corum
  • Colston Loveland
  • Cornelius Johnson
  • Donovan Edwards
  • Junior Colson
  • Karsen Barnhart
  • Kris Jenkins
  • Ladarius Henderson
  • Mason Graham
  • Mike Barrett
  • Mike Sainristil
  • Trevor Keegan
  • Zak Zinter


Courtney Clancy
Senior Digital Marketing Manager
Wolverine Boots & Apparel

Scott Schoessel
VP, Global Marketing
Wolverine Boots & Apparel

Dit Vannouvong
Director of Digital Marketing
Wolverine Boots & Apparel

Lauren King
Director of Brand Marketing
Wolverine Boots & Apparel

Carly Brooks
Senior Digital Marketing Specialist
Wolverine Boots & Apparel

Michon Moline
Senior Digital Marketing Specialist
Wolverine Boots & Apparel

Olivia Mashak
Senior Brand Marketing Specialist
Wolverine Boots & Apparel

Joel Kuntz
Creative Director
Wolverine Boots & Apparel

Rachel Cook
Senior Web Designer
Wolverine Boots & Apparel

Jeremy Eberts
Art Director
Wolverine Boots & Apparel

Jared Wangler
Founder & CEO
Valiant Management Group

Justin Roh
General Manager
Valiant Management Group

Nolan Trepeck
Valiant Management Group

Ryan Doyle
Director of Marketing
Valiant Management Group

Marshall Davis
Director of Retail Marketing
Wolverine Boots & Apparel

Celebrate in NYC

Join us for the 6th Annual Hashtag Sports Awards™ on the evening of June 6, 2024 as we celebrate finalists and reveal the winners of this year's awards live during the show.