September 25, 2023

Digital Marketing Education

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers retro creamsicle uniforms become a sub-brand

“What we’re exploring with creamsicle is using our legacy to write a larger story about the Bucs and the history of the team,” James Ruth, chief marketing officer of the Buccaneers, said in an interview. “This is an almost 50-year-old institution in the Bay, and we’re getting fans excited around the legacy of the team.”

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The Buccaneers’ marketing staff created the campaign in-house. To be certain it’s not received as a gimmick, Ruth said the staff eschewed use of the word “throwback” when discussing their plans. 

“We very quickly tried to eliminate throwback from the vernacular because we didn’t want to be seen as something that is just kitsch. If you call something a throwback, you really limit its power and potential,” Ruth said. “We said we’re actually going to treat this as a sub-brand, and leverage creamsicle as an opportunity for us to celebrate legacy. And when we have that legacy conversation, we leverage creamsicle.”

Bucco Bruce

Tampa Bay has a colorful history in those uniforms. The Bucs arrived as an expansion team in 1976 bearing a look that was also new to the game: it was the only club with an orange, red and white color scheme. The logo depicted a rakish winking pirate with a feathered cavalier hat and a dagger between his teeth, known as “Bucco Bruce.”

The Bucs, noted for having gone through their inaugural season without a single win, wore variations on the creamsicle uniform until 1997, when it was replaced with a considerably more aggressive pewter-and-red scheme. The change sent Bucco Bruce sailing—then-quarterback Trent Dilfer remarked he looked “wimpy”—and in his place was a skull and swords depicted on a tattered flag. Through tweaked over the years, the pewter-and-red look remains the Bucs’ primary uniform today.

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