Most Iowa State fans, especially those residing in the state of Iowa, are familiar with the Hayden-era ‘ANF’ decal that recently reappeared on the Hawkeye helmet. Some may view this decal as a simple gesture of solidarity with the farmers of this state, but as an Iowa State fan and graduate who grew up on a farm, it has always rubbed me the wrong way. To me this decal has always come across as a shallow attempt by the University of Iowa to grab fans and further the Hawkeyes’ image as ‘Iowa’s team.’ While it’s rubbed me the wrong way for some time, it wasn’t until today that it really torqued me off.
Today, while listening to a sporting goods store rep speak on a local sports station, I learned that the U of I has actually licensed this ‘ANF’ mark as an official trademark of the university, meaning that they collect royalties on its sale and use. So while Iowa State University and its world-renowned agriculture college go about their business of actually advancing the agriculture industry, the U of I, who does little to nothing for the industry, will be profiting off the sale of this mark.
And, to be honest, saying that the U of I does little to nothing for the industry is probably being generous. Something tells me that the kids from the Chicago suburbs, who are later pumped out by the U of I as freshly-minted lawyers and bankers, probably don’t become good friends of this state’s family farmers (this state’s real farmers). Meanwhile, an Iowa farmer can’t move an inch in his machine shed, tractor cab, or corn field without bumping into something that an Iowa Stater had his or her hands in.
Part of me would love to see a marketing campaign launched by Iowa State with the goal of debunking the myth that the U of I is somehow the state university. Putting the battle for the hearts and minds of Iowa’s farmers aside, I would love to see an ad with the slogan “Iowa’s sons and daughters choose State,” showing the historical in-state enrollment numbers to back it up. More often than not, when an Iowan decides to pursue a college degree at one of the state’s two major universities, that Iowan goes to Iowa State University. And when you run into a college graduate in this state, it’s more likely that said graduate will be an Iowa State alum than an Iowa alum.
But I suppose I need to give credit where credit is due. The U of I has found a way to win over the unattached farmers of this state. It doesn’t matter that, as Iowa State continues to make historic contributions to agriculture, Iowa finds a way to make money off of Joe Farmer when he heads over to Scheels to buy his ‘ANF’ bumper sticker. We supposedly live in a state chock-full of common sense folk, yet the hypocrisy goes unnoticed by the masses. It’s a heckofa thing.
Thank you, U of I, for the heads-up. I agree wholeheartedly, America does need farmers. But I propose that the Hawkeyes license the following: ‘INFTTTIADSFF.’ It’s a bit lengthy, but I think it would more accurately reflect Iowa’s intentions with this clever piece of marketing: ‘Iowa (U of I) needs farmers to think that Iowa actually does something for farmers.’
P.S. I apologize for the visual diarrhea accompanying this post.