Tulane is going back to the future.
Rather than rebranding the Athletics Department with a new logo created by a marketing studio or an advertising agency, new Athletic Director Troy Dannen looked to the Green Wave’s past to find a mark that represents Tulane’s changing athletic culture.
The “Angry Wave,” as Dannen dubbed it, is returning to prominence as a signature logo for Tulane and will move into the forefront in coming years. The symbol of a snarling, human-shaped, clenched-fist green wave was the department’s primary mark from 1964 to 1986 but was set aside for two different logos in the ensuing 30 years.
Now, the sneer is back.
Not only will the Angry Wave be featured in Tulane’s marketing materials and apparel, but the football team’s helmets will display the fictitious mascot in the season opener at Wake Forest on Sept. 1.
While Dannen said the cresting “T-Wave,” initially created in 1998, will remain the primary symbol for now, it will assume a more secondary place over time.
All this wasn’t necessarily the plan when Dannen arrived at Tulane in December. Instead, the Angry Wave found him.
Walking the halls of Tulane’s administrative offices, Dannen came across the uniquely cartoonish logo and immediately investigated the history behind it.
He spoke to prominent Tulane booster Jill Glazer, who relayed her affinity for the character as well as the numerous positive comments on it she had received from fellow alumni, who missed the retro symbol.
“I just kind of fell in love with it,” Dannen said. “When I tweeted something about it, I got so much feedback, and that gave me some perspective.
"I intended to put it out there as a throwback mark, but it was so popular and so overwhelming that not one person responded negatively, so we started looking at ways to integrate it fully.”
The switch works on several levels. Dannen believes the “T-Wave” logo is hard to immediately identify as Tulane's because fellow American Athletic Conference schools Temple and Tulsa have similar marks, but the Angry Wave is distinctively Tulane’s.
It also harks back to a better time in Tulane’s athletic history, when its football program was more locally relevant under coaches like Mack Brown, Bennie Ellender, Vince Gibson and Larry Smith.
“I believe the leadership under (former Athletic Director) Rick Dickson saved Tulane athletics and built a remarkable series of facilities for the school,” former Tulane football letterman Billy Beam said. “But one area he wasn’t willing to address was the psychological attachment that athletes from the 1960s, '70s and '80s had to the old logo. I think this is a great move to get those generations excited.”
And the investment in the Angry Wave already is paying off.
Between April and June, the Athletics Department set a single-quarter record for licensed sales, thanks largely to the popularity of the Angry Wave, whose revenue skyrocketed exponentially.
In response, Tulane decided to make the Angry Wave more available to apparel companies, pulling it from the College Vault (which netted a higher revenue percentage but limited its availability to just six retailers) into the more accessible primary logo position.
Fans at the team store and local retail shops have gobbled up the merchandise, continuing a trend of increased sales thanks to the retro look.
“The bottom line is that it’s going to get easier to find and to buy stuff with that logo on it,” Dannen said. “It’s going to get more exposure, and I think it’s going to take over as the primary mark in very short order.”
In turn, Dannen said, Tulane is in the process of creating a mascot tailored to the Angry Wave image and will unveil a 600-square-foot likeness of the symbol somewhere inside Yulman Stadium this football season.
The logo also is likely to make its way onto uniforms in all sports over the coming years as well as coaches’ polo shirts and on-campus signage.
“We are going to call a lot of attention to that mark,” Dannen said. “I think this defines us, as much as a mark can define you.”