Wikipedia Enters Branded Merchandise Game, Sells Out of Long-Sleeve Tee
Wikipedia is getting into the branded merchandise game, and it appears it already has a hit on its hands.
Advisory Board Crystals (Abc.)—a streetwear label that bills itself as "the contemporary iteration of a crystal shop inspired by the needs of the modern human with the desire to utilize the incredible properties of crystals as an integral addition to the art of daily life," whatever that means—announced a partnership with Wikipedia last week on Instagram. Abc. is well known for its crystal collection, but it offers multiple apparel items on its website as well.
In an effort to raise money for Wikipedia, the companies collaborated on an $85 long-sleeve tee, with proceeds going directly to the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization behind Wikipedia. And the shirts sold out in a matter of days.
Wikipedia is certainly not the first or only internet company to start selling branded merchandise to raise funds. Just take a look at The New York Times, Buzzfeed and other large publishers that also started merchandise lines. Sure, one long-sleeve tee isn’t quite on the same level as Buzzfeed’s entire line of cookware to support its Tasty brand, but it's a start. And, clearly, the shirts were a hit with Wikipedia's audience that believes free knowledge should be accessible.
The phrase “Internet Master” appears on the back of the shirt to further illustrate Wikipedia’s mission (and even humor). Abc. is keen on the idea that “there are many ways to save the world,” as noted on the Instagram post. Although this collaboration between the two brands isn’t a typical idea most would categorize under “saving the world," it does stick with the idea of "keeping knowledge free" by supporting Wikipedia.
Wikipedia has volunteers all over the world that spread knowledge through its free encyclopedia platform. The information is accessible to everyone, but Wikipedia relies heavily on donations to cover operating expenses. As it turns out, “free information” is nearly impossible to keep free of cost.
For the Wikimedia Foundation, this was a great collaboration choice. Wikipedia already has a large and devoted following, so adding branded long-sleeve tees only helps the brand become more recognizable while putting some cash back in its coffers. On Abc.’s end, it implements a campaign to spread awareness about keeping information free and to support the nonprofit Wikimedia Foundation.
Branded T-shirts are one of the top-selling fashion apparel items, and long-sleeve tees in particular have become hot streetwear items. Wikipedia hopped on the trend right on time.
For promotional apparel distributors, this just proves once again that branded merchandise can fit into any company's business model. For a website like Wikipedia that has already has a stellar reputation, huge site traffic and a loyal following, this could just be the beginning of a greater branded merchandise operation.