Bleacher Report Is Planning a Huge Apparel, Merchandise Expansion
Last week, we reported that Bleacher Report, the digital publisher known for its sports coverage, was becoming a branded apparel company after it announced it would sell merchandise in collaboration with NBA star Dwyane Wade. We meant it kind of jokingly, but it looks like we were more right than we imagined, as the company has now unveiled a plan to offer 600 apparel items and other merchandise by year’s end.
Anybody who reads Bleacher Report knows that it employs scribes with a knack for undressing topics quite well. In the name of increasing its holdings, though, it's striving to dress up its identity via what Digiday has reported could amount to eight collaborations. And though the company intends to move “beyond releasing T-shirts,” as chief brand officer Ed Romaine noted, nobody should think those garments will not be among the heavy hitters in his employer’s attempt to be far more than a digital chronicler of the athletic world.
It also appears that Bleacher Report is viewing the move as more than just a revenue driver. “This is a broader marketing and branding play,” David Meltzer, CEO of Sports 1 Marketing, said of the reasoning behind Bleacher Report’s decision to up its commerce identity.
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Bleacher Report, according to Digiday, has built out a commerce team while also calling on phone apps and advertising allies to sell the Wade apparel. Since the Miami Heat legend will be receiving two more merchandise unveilings through Bleacher Report, one wonders, as the spring and summer approach, if his basketball brethren will likewise earn a spot in the branded apparel spotlight, and if baseball players will join the starting lineup of athletes who can provide that added revenue stream for the digital entity.
Publications and sports figures have always benefited one another anyway, so what should stop them from forging a different sort of economic-fueled connection? In doing so, they would certainly be giving credence to Meltzer’s contention that “There is a new awareness of personal brands and their ability to leverage new digital publications with a younger, more engaged audience.”
Basketball and baseball, simply because of the time of year, will likely be the first recipients of the Bleacher Report genesis as a branded apparel purveyor, so we will be eager to see how creative the online publication is with its commerce execution. Many observers lament that baseball is boring and that even its stars cannot captivate legions of people outside of said athletes’ respective markets, so maybe Bleacher Report will be putting in the marketing equivalent of extra innings to make stars like Bryce Harper, Manny Machado and Mike Trout even more appealing.
We would certainly like to see hockey receive its due as the playoffs approach, too, as we do not need to be Mensa members to know the NFL will earn that branded apparel treatment through Bleacher Report come the late summer and all of the fall. Since the company gave soccer a plug last year, perhaps “the beautiful game” will be kicking around in the heads of the marketing team, too. And based on that collaboration, which also included a music angle, perhaps entertainment figures will likewise join the Bleacher Report parade of possible revenue generators.