Bengals Superfan's Apparel Brand Blows Up After Cincinnati QB Joe Burrow Wears T-shirt to Game
The Cincinnati Bengals won their first playoff game in 31 years on Saturday, but the big winner of the weekend was a Cincinnati-based apparel brand.
Ace Boogie is a life-long Bengals superfan who runs a YouTube channel and hosts a podcast focusing on the team. He also designs and sells Bengals fan gear via New Stripe City, his company.
Before the 2021 season started, Boogie designed a shirt celebrating the team's trio of star wide receivers, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and rookie Ja'Marr Chase—the "tres amigos," as he dubbed them.
“There were a lot of people looking for a nickname for our trio of receivers," Boogie told WKRC-TV, a local news station in Cincinnati. "I’m a huge hip-hop fan and I immediately thought of 'Migos' because there are three rappers. You’ve got three receivers.”
According to WKRC-TV, Boogie sent shirts to each of the receivers and to Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow before the season. Months later, on Sunday, Jan. 2, Burrow wore the shirt to the stadium for a game against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Bengals rallied to win 34-31, clinching their division and a trip to the playoffs, and pictures of Burrow in the shirt made the rounds on social media.
— Alexa Helwig (@AlexaHelwig) January 7, 2022
Suddenly, everybody had to have a Tres Amigos shirt.
“My phone just started buzzing—it still has not stopped buzzing," Boogie told WKRC-TV a few days after the game. “To see him wear that just speaks to the kind of guy Joe is. He's tapped in with the city. He's an Ohio guy and supports little guys like me and stuff like that.”
Boogie said he sold hundreds of shirts in the immediate aftermath—not a bad haul at $45 for a tee and $62 for a hoodie. He would go on to expand the product line with a limited run of beanies (white are sold out, black still available) and, just in time for the Bengals' postseason matchup with the Las Vegas Raiders, a few playoff edition Tres Amigos styles
— Just Another Bengals Fan (@JustaBengalsFan) January 16, 2022
After the Bengals' win, Boogie said on Twitter he'd likely have new designs coming. OTO Supply Co., a full-service decorator based in Ohio, handled the printing for all of the current New Stripe City apparel.
We've seen a similar situation play out in Buffalo after Bills quarterback Josh Allen wore his old high school hoodie to a game. After the Bills won, the hoodie blew up on social media, with fans asking where they could get one for themselves. Allen's school ended up reissuing the old design and raising $100,000 from the sales.
This kind of thing isn't exactly repeatable, but it's a good reminder that branded merchandise plays nice with social media. Plenty of promo distributors and apparel brands have figured this out, designing merch with the internet in mind. Sometimes, it just gets a nice little bump in reach. Other times, it hitches a ride on an NFL playoff run 31 years in the making. Either way, it's a win.