Monthly Archives: October 2013

Red Sox Nation and a Brief History of Sports Marketing

FenwayThe East Coast woke up this morning to a distinct red tint. It’s the morning after in Red Sox Nation.

This region’s love affair with the Boston baseball team is like many affairs of the heart by turns exhilarating and debilitating. The New York Times describes it this way: “For much of the 20th century, the Boston Red Sox were a symbol of frustration and pain for an entire region. As popular as they were in their corner of the nation, either they were good enough to lose in agonizing fashion on baseball’s grandest stage, or they were just plain bad. But that all changed in 2004 when the Red Sox ended an 86-year championship drought, and now their fortunes have shifted so dramatically that winning titles has become commonplace.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/31/sports/baseball/boston-red-sox-rout-st-louis-cardinals-to-win-world-series.html?_r=0)

Regardless of which team holds your heart, there is something we can all agree on: sports connect people emotionally. Brands linked to sports have a longer reach. T-shirts (with Comfort Colors, it always comes back to t-shirts) related to sports teams make up a staggering portion of industry sales. How did this happen? When did sports become such a marketing powerhouse?

This short timeline might shed some light:

August 1858 – First paid admission required for a game (baseball)

1870s – Tobacco cards featuring baseball players are popular

March 1923 – First endorsement deal (golf)

September 1925 – First Goodyear blimp flyover

June 1928 – Coke sponsors the Olympic Games

August 1939 – First televised Major Baseball League game

August 1939 – First televised college game (football)

October 1939 – First televised NFL game

1976 – Millions spent on Montreal Olympics

September 1979 – ESPN debuts

1984 – Hundreds of millions spent on Los Angeles Olympics

1990 – The dawn of high school sports marketing

2008 – Adidas pays Russian pole-vaulter Yelena Isenbyeva $2.5 million a year

2012 – £24billion spent on London Olympics

The National Sporting Goods Association tells us that “Adult Americans spent more than $8 billion on sports logo apparel in 2009.” (http://www.nsga.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=4315) You can see where this is going. But this morning, Red Sox fans will tell you it’s only about love.

Timeline Sources: http://www.timetoast.com, http://smedio.com

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Halloween: Why Do We Dress Up?

This Halloween we will see our share of Zombies, Shades of Grey and Duck Dynasty Divas. We may even see a Castaway Tom Hanks and his companion, Wilson the soccer ball or Miley Cyrus and her wrecking ball. At Comfort Colors, we always like the M&M’s costume: a group of friends dressed in colorful Comfort Colors Ts each wearing a big m on the chest.

what_to_wear_for_halloweenFor us, it’s never a question of whether or not to dress up, but what to wear. This year we wanted to know a bit more about why we dress up.

Here’s what LiveScience.com has to say about it:

The holiday is thought to date to the Iron Age (around 800-600 B.C.), when the Celts and Gauls ruled parts of Great Britain and Northern France. October 31 marks the last day of the Celtic calendar, and for Celtic-folklore believers, Halloween was a day of celebration before winter, which brought the death of life and nature, and the harvest. (http://www.livescience.com/8876-dress-halloween.html)

About.com’s Urban Legends gives us a bit more to chew on (I paraphrase a bit):

In Medieval times, mumming and “going-a-souling” were all the rage on the eve of All Saints Day (November 1). “Mumming took the form of wearing costumes, chanting, singing, play-acting, and general mischief making, while souling entailed going door to door and offering prayers for the dead in exchange for treats, particularly ‘soul cakes.'”

A more recent British custom is Bonfire Night, also known as Guy Fawkes Night. In 1605 Guy Fawkes and friends plotted to blow up the House of Lords. The plot’s failure led to celebratory bonfires and shenanigans like mask-wearing and burning effigies (like lit jack-o-lanterns).

When the Brits brought this seasonal party to North America in the mid-1800’s the locals had no idea who Guy Fawkes was or why everyone was carrying on so. “One does find mention — many mentions, in fact — of unrestrained pranksterism and vandalism on Halloween night dating from the late 1800s on, thus one current theory holds that trick-or-treating was an early-20th-century contrivance meant to provide an orderly alternative to juvenile mischief (essentially bribing the would-be tricksters with treats).” (http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/halloween/a/Why-Do-We-Wear-Costumes-Halloween.htm)

Ha! A mere contrivance!

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Cotton: Let’s Sing About It!

At Comfort Colors, many of us sing at work, but you might not want to hear that particular chorus. Instead we thought we’d take a look at cotton songs in history.

The connection in American history between cotton and slavery is impossible to ignore. While most cottons songs did not ignore it, many glorified the relationship by depicting the demeanor of slaves as joyful at their work. Here are a few American Folks songs about cotton:

Cotton-eyed Joe – This song even has an associated dance! Though it is usually associated with the American South, these days, Cotton-eyed Joe predates the Civil War. The song – and accompanying dance – have many, many variants.

Pick a Bale of Cotton – Sure singing on the job makes the day pass and can ease the burden of work.. but a bale of cotton weighs 500 pounds! It took more than music to lift.

Pickin Cotton All Day – A song recorded by Bessie Brown in the 1920s. Though the song is filled with hope, it does not glorify slavery as some historic cotton songs did. She sings: “All my life, I’ve been makin’ it. All my life, white folks takin’ it.”

This last song, Cotton Fields, may be the most popular of the bunch, though this version sung by white surfer dudes in Hawaiian shirts made us scratch our heads:

This song, this version of this song, was number one in four countries! Who knew?

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Sell More T-shirts, Save More Lives

pink_breast_cancer_ribbonA nice T-shirt is not going to end breast cancer, feed the hungry, or end childhood obesity. Science, money and great minds will do this, if we’re lucky. But T-shirts do play an important roll in getting the word out about charitable causes.

Customink, a company that sells Comfort Colors Ts along with those made by our friends at other T-shirt companies, makes it easy for the local school, Girl Scout troop, or hockey team to start to make a difference in their communities, any maybe eventually in the world. It’s called Booster. And it’s a website that allows you to make a page, design a T-shirt, spread the word using social media, and collect money for your cause.

It’s all about doing well by doing good. T-shirts are the perfect vehicle for cause marketing. They raise awareness, are fun, and last a long time. You feel better as a business owner and your customers feel better about purchasing from you (and if you carry Comfort Colors, your customers will feel even more comfortable about wearing your altruistic message). These good feelings linger long after the cause marketing campaign ends.

But choose your charity wisely. We all know someone who has battled with cancer, many of us have loved ones who have suffered. It is an extremely important cause. But don’t make a cancer T-shirt. Instead, give your money directly to your favorite cancer charity. Give a lot of money directly to that charity and then crow about it on Social Media by liking that charity’s Facebook page, sharing and retweeting all of its posts, volunteering, etc.

Instead focus on something smaller and possibly within your community. Look for little known charities that need exposure. Wearing a pink ribbon or a Livestrong bracelet will not necessarily have the same impact as a cause with a more local impact.

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Cotton in the news

Periodically we keep tabs on the latest cotton news by scanning various sources. Vogue and Elle keep us up-to-date on fashion, Nasdaq.com the cotton stock report and Google News, everything else. Today we thought we’d take a look at Huffington Post.

Soft and fluffy cotton balls are not for eating...

Soft and fluffy cotton balls are not what’s for dinner…

As you might imagine, we found tons of articles about Tom Cotton. And as you might not imagine, we also found news about National Cotton Candy Day (who knew there was such a terrific day?) and about skinny models eating cotton ball diets in order to feel full and suppress their appetites (not recommended!). Then we found a post about organic cotton. Now here is something we can sink our teeth into: Protecting Our Planet and Protecting Ourselves: The Importance of Organic Cotton.

“Wearing organic fabrics has a major positive impact on your health and the health of our planet…What makes organic materials, like cotton, so much better than the conventional ones? Organic cotton is grown in a way that uses methods and materials that lessen the impact on our environment. A big effort in the organic movement is to use growing systems that replenish and maintain soil fertility and build biologically diverse agriculture. Organic cotton uses far less water too.” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-dietz/organic-cotton-sustainable-fashion_b_3562788.html)

Works for us! Our sister company, Aurum Organic Klothing is all about apparel manufactured using the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) developed by The International Working Group. GOTS covers all aspects of the processing of textile products made of organic fibers including all stages of manufacturing, packaging, labeling, exportation, and even importation and distribution.

The original goal of GOTS was “to define world-wide recognized requirements that ensure organic status of textiles, from harvesting of raw materials, through environmentally and socially responsible manufacturing up to labeling, in order to provide a credible assurance to the end consumer”. We love our sister company.

But whether you choose conventional (and super comfortable) cotton or GOTS certified organic cotton, please don’t eat it. You’ll feel better wearing it.