SBD/March 16, 2017/Marketing and Sponsorship

Fanatics' T-Shirt Makers Work Quickly With Schools Around NCAA Tournament Time

Fanatics helped Georgia State Univ. roll out a special t-shirt after its upset in '15
Fanatics has roughly a dozen rapid responders camped in its Jacksonville and San Mateo, Calif., offices during NCAA Tournament games, and when a big moment happens, it takes them all of a "few minutes to whip up a T-shirt reflecting the storyline," according to Eben Novy-Williams of BLOOMBERG NEWS. Fanatics Branded President Raphael Peck said, "That’s my Ferrari team. They only go fast." Once a shirt is created, whether it be for a "come-from-behind victory by an acclaimed powerhouse or a moment in the sun for an also-ran," the design "goes to the school’s licensing or athletic department for approval." Once that is received -- which can be "almost immediately, if Fanatics has a long-standing relationship with the program, or take agonizing minutes with a school caught unaware -- the shirt is listed on the Fanatics website." The whole process can "take less than 15 minutes from final shot to first sale." Peck is the "architect of this part of Fanatics’ business." To fully show off its "flexibility and speed, Fanatics needs narratives, and the three-week, 68-team NCAA basketball tournament is the autobahn of sporting events." It is "invariably full of unpredictable (i.e., highly marketable) moments." In '15, 14th-seeded Georgia State's upset victory over No. 3 Baylor "stunned" the GSU athletic department "almost as much as it did the rest of the country." Until that moment, "merchandise was an afterthought and, in retrospect, a missed opportunity." GSU Senior Associate AD/External Affairs Brian Kelly said, "It was an important lesson." Fanatics "helped compensate for some of that unpreparedness." Within 15 minutes, a shirt with the "David-vs.-Goliath-esque slogan 'This Was No Upset,' spelled out in Georgia State’s approved fonts and colors, had been approved and posted for sale on the Fanatics website" (BLOOMBERG NEWS 3/15).
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