Hello, esteemed readers! Sit down and brace yourselves; I'm about to take you on a magical journey through recent history to get you caught up on a little situation we found ourselves in not too long ago.
For those of you who have known about WRNL for awhile, you probably remember when we came up with the idea to play off of former Iowa football coach Hayden Fry's promotional tactic to raise awareness for agricultural producers across the country. America Needs Farmers, or ANF for short, has been displayed on the helmets of the University of Iowa football team in the form of a circular sticker since the mid 80s. Our idea was to parody that by changing the "ANF" to "AHF," which in our case, stood for Actually Helping Farmers.
Why is that, you ask? Well, this article that we wrote in 2014 explains the complete background of the story, but I'll go ahead and point out a few important snippets:
Actually Helping Farmers, that's what ISU does. AHF should be the new symbol instead of ANF.
Iowa State University provides prospective students with jobs in agriculture, and are the real promoters. They offer seminars and education through their state-funded Extension programs in every county. Millions of dollars are put into research on campus for biotechnology and enhancements of agricultural production. Not just statewide, but worldwide.
Somebody has to provide food, fuel and fiber for the world.
Iowa is a university known for their liberal arts and medical programs. Iowa State is known for agriculture and engineering. Which one would you say correlates more to farmers?
America needs farmers, it's just that the University of Iowa is the least worthy advocate to promote it. ISU is the real Ag school in the state, and no longer should a ploy to sell merchandise be the frontrunner to America's consciousness when it comes to helping out the American farmer.
Genius idea, right? We thought so too! We even ended up making our idea into a shirt that many people, including numerous farmers across the country, decided to snatch up to show off their pride. Because who wouldn't be proud of a school that, you know, actually helps farmers?
While many of you still own your original AHF shirt, you probably know that due to a cease and desist order that we received on September 30, 2013, from the University of Iowa, we were no longer able to continue making them.
Here's the explanation the U of I provided:
The University of Iowa ("University") is the proprietor of marks used here. The mark this letter is addressing is the University's ANF mark and your derivative of this mark. Your AHF mark is clearly a derivative of the ANF mark that the University enjoys proprietary ownership over. In so doing, you have created an affiliation with the University, where none exists. This use creates a likelihood of confusion as to the source, affiliation, or sponsorship of your goods and/or services, constituting an infringement of our rights under both State and Federal trademark law.
Unauthorized use of The University of Iowa trademarks, word marks, and logos is a violation of state and federal trademark law. If you do not immediately cease the unlawful use of our logos, The University of Iowa may pursue this matter to the fullest extent of the law.
Yes, you read that correctly. The University of Iowa claimed that we had created an affiliation with the University. That's hilarious, because that's about the last damn thing we ever want to be known for on this site! And are you kidding me with this "likelihood of confusion" garbage? That's clearly an H in the middle there, Iowa.
Plus, have you ever heard of this thing called parody? It's protected under the 1st Amendment.
Though, I suppose I could see our shirt confusing the majority of Hawkeye fans..........
WRNL ended up deciding not to battle it in a court of law, even though we're sure we could have won. It simply was too big of a headache for us to deal with, so we ended up ceasing production of the shirt that featured three letters in a gold circle.
Fast forward to a couple weeks ago... An idea popped into our heads. If it was the shape and letters the University of Iowa didn't want us using to create a "likelihood of confusion," then why not make new shirts that no person with a brain could possibly get confused with the silly promotional tactic the Hawkeyes continue to wear on their helmets to this day?
Without further to do, I would like to introduce to you the "Actually Helping Farmers" 2.0 T-shirt, now available in our shirt store at Gameday Depot! The shirt is available in both cardinal and gold, and also comes in a ladies' V-neck option!
So, why did we settle on an octagon, stop sign-ish looking thing?
Because we want the University of Iowa to STOP being such stuck-up, fun-hating assholes. That's why.
We're pretty sure there's no reasonable way these shirts could ever be confused with the U of I's sacred gold circle with three letters in it, so feel free to get a shirt or two for yourself and ONCE AGAIN display how proud you are of Iowa State University, which has a history of dedication to ACTUALLY HELPING FARMERS.
This fall, Matt Campbell will lead the Cyclones into a new era of Iowa State football while we usher in a new era of AHF shirts at the same time. If we see you wearing your AHF 2.0 shirt (or even the 1.0 shirt for those of you lucky enough to still have one!) tailgating in the lots of Jack Trice Stadium this fall, we'll tip our hats and offer up a toast to you.
Because you, sir or madam, believe in Actually Helping Farmers.
Don't forget to head over to Gameday Depot to get your new shirt!