There's a Lesson in Appreciating the Bucks' Absurd T-shirt Cannon
We’re not going to waste anyone’s time rehashing how much we love T-shirt cannons at Promo Marketing. As Editor-in-Chief Sean Norris said earlier today, it’s pretty much my official beat at this point.
So, with that distinction, it’s my duty to keep everyone updated on the news and developments that relate to all things T-shirt cannon. In this case, it’s how the Milwaukee Bucks’ absolutely bonkers T-shirt cannon called The Quad came to be, and what we can learn from it.
The Quad is the largest T-shirt cannon of its kind. It has four barrels and fires more than 180 shirts in about 15 seconds. It is the brainchild of former Milwaukee-area wedding DJ Todd Scheel, a man who knows what fans want.
Deadspin did a story on Scheel, and how he is sort of the godfather of modern promo cannons. He didn’t come up with the idea, but he did improve on existing designs and make them way more powerful.
If the original inventor is the Karl Benz of the T-shirt cannon, then Scheel is the Enzo Ferrari.
At the 38,000-square-foot weapons lab/big-kid playground in suburban New Berlin, Wis., that also serves as headquarters for his company, FX in Motion, Scheel also produces other implements for arena use. There are high-end confetti cannons that, he says, “will bury your floor in confetti,” real cannons (here’s one recently delivered to MLS’s Houston Dynamo), and mini-parachute systems that he brags are capable of making any coliseum “look like Normandy for about 55 seconds.” The company, which now has a full-time staff of 50, is getting into producing rugged, anti-aircraft-looking vehicles equipped with multi-barreled T-shirt shooters for outdoor stadiums, such as the Cincinnati Reds’ Redzilla.
The NBA has invested much more than any other major sports league in “dead-ball entertainment,” or whatever you want to call the sponsor-friendly efforts to keep ticket buyers occupied during game breaks. Scheel boasts that all 30 NBA teams, and “more than 250” college basketball programs, use FXiM’s wares.
“I’m a big kid getting to play with big toys in big arenas,” Scheel told Deadspin. “I can’t wait to get back to the shop and blow things up.”
Scheel first worked as a DJ at the arena, and saw what pumped up the crowds during breaks in games.
The whole story is worth a read, but the takeaway here is this: Scheel started just as an employee in the arena, and saw what made the fans (i.e. his “customers”) wanted. He saw their demands, and he saw what they didn’t like. He basically just made a string of educated guesses based on the information that he had, and ended up with the Doomsday Device of T-shirt cannons.
The lesson here is to see what your clients want. See where there are places to improve their businesses and their lives, and don’t settle for something just because it’s the way it’s always been done. You might be missing out on a gigantic, four-barreled behemoth of a job.
As one FXiM employee said of the Quad, "There's no reason for this to exist, except that it's awesome."
It sure is.