University of Oregon Working to Establish Itself In Downtown Portland

by | Nov 30, 2008

Cross the Burnside Bridge into downtown Portland and you will be greeted by one of the most iconic neon signs in existence. It says, “Made in Oregon” and features a leaping stag whose nose cheerfully turns red during the holiday season.

The sign was first constructed by the White Satin Sugar Company in 1940. It was changed in 1957 to read “White Stag” by White Stag Sportswear. The Naito family, owners of the Made in Oregon chain, again rebranded the sign in 1995.

This is where it gets interesting. Made in Oregon is a brand name and prominent retail business in Oregon. But the phrase “Made in Oregon” is a mantra that all Oregonians can relate to and embrace. So, it’s a particularly positive piece of branding that has transcended commerce and become a civic landmark.

Now, University of Oregon, a tenant in the White Stag Building where the neon sign is perched wants to modify the text of the sign to read “University of Oregon.” See WWire for a sketch of the proposed changes.

According to Portland Business Journal, there’s resistance to the change from residents of Portland and city officials, some of whom attended Portland State University (presumably Oregon State grads would have a say in this, as well).

It’s hard to fault O of U for pursuing the change. It’s a bold move, but one that would clearly help build their brand after the dust up washes out to sea. At the same time, it’s hard to support U of O in this, since the existing sign works for everyone, not just Ducks.