Bleacher Report's New E-commerce Collection Is a Masterclass in Branded Merchandise
We’ve written extensively about publishers getting into e-commerce of late. From the New York Times to Buzzfeed, publications both in print and online have been turning to branded merchandise as a means of offsetting digital struggles.
This time around, we’ve got a different angle, one that finds a much more subtle and targeted use of an e-commerce platform not as a means of offsetting any shortcomings, but rather of bolstering an already-thriving online media presence.
Enter Bleacher Report, the extremely successful sports media publisher owned by Turner Broadcasting.
In the weekend before the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final, Bleacher Report launched a capsule collection of soccer jerseys—Hip Hop x World Cup—designed in collaboration with rappers including Black Thought, Vince Staples, 21 Savage, Vic Mensa and Smokepurpp. The jerseys, which were created to reference the local roots of each artist, were priced at $80 apiece and sold out in a mere three days, leaving only the collection’s $30 T-shirts up for grabs online.
Hip Hop x World Cup Collection
See what happens when 🔥 artists @21savage @YBNNahmir @VicMensa @vincestaples @smokepurpp @theroots design World Cup-inspired capsules for their cities. On-sale 4 days only https://t.co/653i5soG1S pic.twitter.com/KwNttjFr5C
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 13, 2018
While Bleacher Report declined to produce raw sales figures, it said that the tens of thousands of jerseys sold had “wildly exceeded” sales projections.
According to Ed Romaine, chief brand officer for the publisher, e-commerce is not the endgame for Bleacher Report, but rather a targeted means with which to grow its brand.
“Having a Bleacher Report clothing store is not our end goal,” he said. “We want to create a unique footprint.”
This latest collection follows a few other carefully selected, limited edition branded merchandise forays that turned into successes for the brand, including a Carmelo Anthony-meme inspired sweatshirt—“Hoodie Melo”—and a small series of Bleacher Report-branded T-shirts sold through sports cap and apparel retailer Lids.
By choosing when and where to launch its collections, Bleacher Report displays a savvy approach to branded merchandise, ensuring that each will not only succeed, but reach a dedicated, even niche, audience as well. By collaborating with rappers, and designing jerseys that speak to specific cities around the U.S., the Hip Hop x World Cup collection managed to appeal to fans of a number of things—particular artists, soccer and hip hop—without limiting itself to fans of all three.
That the collection sold out should be no surprise. At the end of the day, it’s asking where Bleacher Report will go next with e-commerce that leaves us guessing.