Merchandising 101

3 Jul

Your Name here Shirt


Imagine going to out on a Friday night to one of New York’s premiere nightlife  events. You party with beautiful women and some of the most influential designers in the fashion industry. You burn some of the finest trees known to man and wake up around noon the following day. Your iphone is vibrating, but it’s not the newest tweets from that model you met last night.

It’s paypal and you just sold the hottest merchandise on the streets and made $12,000 over the last 12 hours.

No, you’re not Diddy and it really can happen to you. If you understand Branding and Merchandising. Today i’m specifically going to talk about the Merchandising  aspect.

When talking to a client recently, I tried to explain Merch the best way I knew how. Merchandising and it’s close cousin endorsements have been around in the lifestyle,  music and entertainment industry for a long time. Merchandising, or merch for short, is selling different brand related apparel to customers and fans.

The merchandise sold could literally be ANYTHING creative you can think of. Skateboards, jewelry, Snap backs, shot glasses, underwear, glasses, socks, umbrellas, swiss army knives, lighters, pens, key chains, books, book bags, and the most obviously popular (yet unoriginal) t-shirts.

With so many talented people in today’s marketplace, it’s more important than ever to be competitively creative with your brand.

When a brand works hard to build and manage their image, over time people who embrace and appreciate that brand, turn into customers. Music artist  for example tend to find more creative and financial success in the independent lane. Artist are finding that they can capitalize on their image and sell appropriate merch at live shows,pop-up shops, or through websites like BigCartel and Merchdirect.  You can even sell merch on tumblr if your ship’s tight! Merchandise is one of the most creative yet unappreciated ways brands can build and increase their image.

Merch is nothing new in the entertainment & lifestyle industry. Remember when Jacob the Jeweler came out with the colorful big face watches that Jay-Z & Roc-A-Fella made popular?  Everyone had to have one? It doesn’t matter if you’re Jay Z, with an internationally recognizable brand, or a culturally influential clothing & lifestyle brand like Supreme. Merchandising is a cool way anyone can build their brand, increase exposure and make some additional income.

Ok. How do I decide what to sell and why would anyone buy it?

You have to consider your audience and what their interest and social habits are. From product placement, product promotion, to product appeal, the marketing of different merchandise needs to be thoughtfully planned out in a way that makes sense. Twitter, instagram, tumblr, music, movies and videos are great outlets for a brand to build and increase it’s image. Once you decide the right outlet for YOU, it’s important to map out a plan and consider the best way to execute your campaign.

Off the top of my head, here are some brands that have capitalized off of their image and sell merchandise consistent with their image.

Karen Civil | Good Wood Beads

Meek Mill | Dream Chasers

40oz van | Balmain-inspired Snapback

Odd Future | Pop Up Shop

Pusha T | Play Cloths

Kevin Hart | Laugh at My Pain

Mac Miller | Stuff


How awesome would it be for you, your friends and complete strangers to wear something with your name on it? In the words of Pharrell “My nigga you can do it too”

Step Into the Black with Fader Magazine

21 Jun

Last week I went to Fader Magazine event, Step Into the Black, at Sigma Sound studio, in downtown Philly. From the moment I stepped into the building, I could feel the positive vibes from the eclectic crowd. The event gave complimentary Captain Morgan Black Spiced Rum drinks, free food, and oh yeah! A performance from Wu-Tang Clan member, Gza.

The Captain Morgan Black sponsored event seemed to bring out a few of the city’s young taste makers making a name for themselves on the entertainment and culture scene. Besides the Hip Hop fans there to see The Gza,the event attracted a diverse crowd of attorneys, photographers, and artists. I even met a backpacker from Germany who came through after hearing about the show while in town.

There was a photography section where people could have a short photo shoot and afterward, use nearby ipads to email the images to themselves. The sexy Captain Morgan Black models  and many of the nights attendees took advantage of the professional photo section.

Around the room on the walls were projections of the new Captain Morgan and Fader collaboration ‘Step Into the Black’. The Captain Morgan Black drinks, live band, and dim lighting set an intimate atmosphere for the crowd to let loose, network and enjoy themselves.

As the Gza performed a few tracks from his Liquid Swords album, everybody sang along to classics tracks like ‘Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nuthing ta Fuck Wit! It wasn’t  a long set from the Killa Bee, and everyone enjoyed interludes where Gza shared early Wu-Tang Clan stories.

Fader magazine and Captain Morgan Black put on a great event that brought out a very diverse crowd of young talent from around the city. The ambiance of the crowd, live music, and Captain Morgan Black drinks proved to be a winning combination. The Step Into the Black campaign created by the two brands smoothly merges The Fader‘s lifestyle & Culture aspect with a consumer segment  The Captain doesn’t significantly reach. But more importantly,  I made a few friends throughout the night and actually met a few twitter followers. I’m definitely going to check out Sigma Sound Studio again and even try to make my own ‘Black Knight’ with the new Captain Morgan Spiced Rum.

You can check out when ‘Step Into The black’ comes to your city here.

Mynd Marketing

17 May

 Neurofocus: Mindblowing us all!

Neurofocus “develops better methods of understanding customer thought, emotion and behavior”. Neurofocus goes beyond Social Psychology and finding Consumer preference, Neurofocus examines the thought process that leads up to you liking whatever it is you like. Wanna know the best way to market your product to kids? Well actually, kids register ads related to emotionally charged message as opposed to logically driven messages. Who would’ve thought!?

Neurofocus developed the first Dry, (No sticky goo) wireless full brain Measurement Headset: Mynd™

Mynd™ is essentially the first wireless EEG headset.

So what?! What does that mean to me the consumer or me the marketer?
Since forever, marketers and advertisers have been trying to find the best and most efficient way to reach their audience. It doesn’t matter if you have the funniest most clever commercial in the world but the viewers don’t register or care what you’re trying to convey.  Adding a technologically advanced spin on common methods, Mynd™  taps into the consumers’ subconscious and gains insight through real time data.

Heres how it works.

As I go to the movies, or even stay at home and watch a television commercial with the wireless EEG device attached to my head. The dozen or so sensors attached to the device capture my synaptic responses to what it is I am watching. So as that  new Nike commercial comes on or as I watch the NBA playoff’s, Mynd™ records my attention and emotional  engagement approximately 2,000 times per second. The Mynd™ headset is actually able to record my engagament, and memory to  eye placement, as I watch the media content. Mynd™

What does this mean to the general population you ask?

Well, have you ever noticed that the advertisements on the sidebar of your gmail account, youtube page or other favorite website are (kind of) tailored to your online web preferences? Behind the scenes, countless data and market research has been collected to get an idea of what type of person you are and what you are interested in. Mynd™  can make those advertisements, the commercials we see, or even the logos companies use, more precise in leaving a lasting impression with us the consumer.

In the future, our subconscious preferences and dislikes will be dissected so finely, that advertisers will know the most precise message us, the consumers want to see.

Mynd™ seems like amazing new technology that is still in it’s infancy stages. Check out this video below of the video game adaption, Myndplay in action.


Whats that barcode thing?

24 Apr

Theres supposed 2 b a QR code here Recently someone asked me for a quick, simple and creative marketing idea they could present at an idea sharing meeting. “Use a QR Code” was my immediate response. “What the hell is a QR Code?!” was their immediate response.

QR Codes, they’re everywhere! How can you not know what a QR Code is? They’re at train stations, on the front of posters and advertisements plastered wherever you are, business cards, above bathroom urinals, t shirts, resumes, retail stores, I’ve even seen one at a club that directed you to an email address so that anyone could inquire about booking acts to perform at their club.

Ok, Yes, I have seen them everywhere, but what the hell are they?

First of All, QR stands for Quick Response. The actual design you see is meant to be scanned with your cell phones “QR Scanner”. A QR scanner can be downloaded from androids Play Store, from the Apple app store and from BlackBerry’s app world. The QR Reader operates like a camera phone would and it allows you take a picture or “Scan” the QR design of your choosing. Once you have scanned the QR Code it may direct you to an address book with information already filled in, it may direct you to a website’s “about us” or “contact us” page, it may be a simple text message you receive. QR Codes allow you to be creative in the optimized information you share as well as allow you to easily be directed to information that could otherwise be difficult to access.

Since QR Codes are meant to be scanned using your cell phone, it’s best to make sure that the content you are directing the individual to is optimized to be read using a cellular device. It would suck to scan a QR Code only to be directed to “services” page of a website and you have to really sit and sift through a bunch of information. Or worse, to scan a QR Code and be directed to a page that slows down your cell phone connection.

QR Codes should direct you to a simple and straight forward link AND be located in convenient locations to be scanned via cell phone. Whether it’s personal contact information, a website, or an email address regarding a specified topic, QR Codes are meant to be cool, convenient, simple and straight forward.

Although making phone calls and text messaging still dominate regular cell phone usage, taking and sharing photographs  is the next most frequent activity. Approximately 72% of cell phone users have reported taking pictures within the past 30 days and 36% of consumers plan on using their device to make purchases.

With that being said, I decided to compose a very* exhaustive list of recent, creative ways QR Codes could of been used and how the opportunity was missed.

  • Concert at The TLA in Philadelphia, Pa

If you’ve been to a concert recently you know there is a lot of time spent waiting for the show to start as well as in between the time the opening act and headliner perform. At this sold out show of 1,000 or so people there was about 30 minutes of standing around after the opening act and before the headlining A$AP Head Honcho (A$AP Rocky) was set to perform. This would of been a great opportunity for concertgoers to scan QR Codes that was directed to the artist itunes, twitter account, or even website with more information about the artist.

  • Real Estate Company Sign

While walking down the street recently, I noticed a young couple pulling over to the side of the road to get out of their car and write down some information from the For Sale on the front lawn. As inconvenient as it is already to pull over and get information from a small For Sale sign, if that unnamed real estate company had  a convenient QR code that led to the companys website with information about the property, or perhaps contact information from the listing real estate agent, it shows that you have the potential customers convenience at heart.

Can you think of any other potential ideas for QR Codes?

*And by exhaustive list, I meant 2

Tupac’s Back!… Kinda

17 Apr


If your name isn’t Dr. Dre, 50 Cent, Eminem, Wiz Khalifa or Snoop Dogg, your concert SUCKED this year! Always ahead of the curve and waiting for the most precise time to return to the spotlight, Dr. Dre brought back the late rapper Tupac Shakur to perform at the 2012 Coachella Music Festival.

The hologram of Shakur was created by special effects production house Digital Domain, a spokesperson for Dr. Dre told MTV. Digital Domain is the company behind the computer-generated imagery that transformed Brad Pitt in “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”, Jeff Bridges in “TRON: Legacy,” Kevin Bacon in “X-Men: First Class” and Rooney Mara in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”

AV Concepts was charged with projecting the image of Tupac on the stage. Nick Smith, the company’s president, told MTV it took several months of planning and four months of studio time to create the hologram. Smith declined to comment on the price of the project, but said a comparable project would cost from $100,000 to $400,000.

Although the perception was of a 3D likeness of Shakur, the image was actually a 2D image. Shakur’s likeness was projected onto an angled piece of glass on ground, which in turn projected the image onto a Mylar screen on stage.

Whatever it is, be on the look out at a venue near you to see Tupac on tour. According to sources close to the project “Moving forward with discussions of a tour are representatives for Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg who, according to a source close to the project, will be meeting to discuss the logistics involved in scheduling a string of performances with the virtual Tupac. The report cites one option would be to tour in stadiums and involve other hip-hop stars like Eminem, 50 Cent and Wiz Khalifa. Another option is a limited tour that would only feature Dre, Snoop Dogg and the virtual Tupac in smaller arenas.”


Rocawear Presents: JAY Z From “Marcy to Barclays”

6 Apr

The first ever Rocawear commercial is a retrospective of Shawn “JAY Z” Carter’s journey as a kid growing up in the humble projects of Brooklyn aspiring to make music and eventually making history. On that journey, the first business beyond music was the birth of Rocawear. Carter’s Rocawear brand represents his prowess as a business man who continues to challenge himself to be more than merely a musician. “My goal was to have one gold album and that was it,” says JAY Z in the spot. “And then it became, I want to show that an artist can ascend to the executive ranks.” Ultimately it has been JAY Z’s ability to inspire his customers that has afforded Rocawear over 10 years as the number one brand in its’ space. JAY Z continues, “Rocawear just keeps reinventing itself and redefining itself every single day.“

Diamonds and Jordans

8 Mar

No. Not these Diamonds and Jordans

 Diamonds and Air Jordans. Huh? When you hear those two words together you probably don’t immediately think anything of it. The truth is, there’s a very rich history behind the two products that’s been carefully planned and executed over decades. The two items have more in common than you think.


Since the Air Jordans were first introduced in 1985, A new pair have been released every year since. During the 1985 season when Michael Jordan wore the original Air Jordans, he was fined $5,000 every game he wore the red and black color combination because the colors were against NBA regulations. The attention Nike garnered from the fines was very much welcomed. Nike took advantage of the marketing opportunity created by the NBA’s reaction and went on to later dub the red/black color combination, “Air Jordan 1 banned”. When first released 27 years ago, the sneakers retailed for $65, which at the time was the most expensive basketball sneaker available. Last year the sneakers were re-released at select stores for $110 and today you can expect to pay north of $300 for the infamous “Banned” Air Jordans.

A women’s best friend, Diamonds! Diamonds represent many things on different levels to different people. Diamonds represent a certain lifestyle few can afford to flaunt lavishly. When you want to dress up and show off you wear diamonds, right? When celebrities want the world to really notice the lifestyle and status they’ve attained they wear diamonds right? When you want to show your spouse your level of commitment, you buy a diamond engagement or wedding ring right? After all, diamonds are forever right?


Throughout the 20th century up until the millennium, the diamond market was dominated by Da Beers consolidated. Da Beers held an iron fist monopoly on the diamond trade throughout the world, and for a while controlled the supply of diamonds allowed in the marketplace. By controlling the supply of diamonds and their genius marketing plan, DaBeers literally created the demand for diamonds throughout the world. With one of the world’s most successful marketing campaignstrategies in history, Da Beers created the slogan “Diamonds are forever” to add a sentimental value to diamonds. At the time, the sentimental value attached to the gemstones prevented people from reselling diamonds independently and flooding the marketplace decreasing prices.

When Adage created their list of the Top 10 slogans of the 20th century, Da Beers was number 1 with “Diamonds are forever”. Do you know who number 2 was? That’s right, Nike with “Just do It”. After recognizing the genius marketing behind 2 of the most successful companies in their respective industries, I created a list of 4 ways Air Jordans and Diamonds are similar in their marketing strategies.


Name Recognition

1. Both Air Jordans (produced by Nike), and DaBeers have created logos/ slogans that have become part of the world culture and represent something bigger than the individual brand. The Jordan Jumpman logo is one of the most of the recognizable images in the world. Although the slogan “Diamonds are Forever” is not attached to one specific jewelry company, the slogan has become synonomous with showing your love by buying some type of bling bling. Da Beers has also inscribed their signature into their diamonds to brand and separate their diamonds from other companies.



2. Both brands have managed to create a level of exclusivity by offering their products in limited quantities, in different styles to different markets. Over the years, the Jordan brand sneakers have spawned many different styles and colors that are often available for a short time in specific markets. Player Exclusive Jordans are sneakers that are exclusively available to players and not sold in retail stores. On the upper end, the prices on some of these player exclusive sneakers can easily run a couple grand. Da Beers on the other hand has introduced forevermark diamonds which are sold through exclusive jewelers around the world. Forevermark diamonds are considered rarer than rare and less than 1 percent of the world’s diamonds meet the criteria to be considered part of the forevermark family.

It’s a Lifestyle

3. What Air Jordans and certain diamonds represent is something bigger than sneakers and diamonds.To put thinks in perspective, some of the younger generation who are heavily into Air Jordans, have never even seen his Airness play the game. Anyhow, the two companies have managed to sell a lifestyle as well as membership into a special subgroup of people. To some serious Jordan collectors, known as sneakerheads, investing in and collecting the different sneakers you may never wear is a way of life. Da Beers has managed to convince the entire world that diamonds are a representation of something intangible.


Marketplace Domination

4. In 2009, three out of every four pair of basketball sneakers sold in The United States are Air Jordans, and 86.5 of all basketball sneakers sold over $100 are Air Jordans.

The Da Beers were no slouches themselves. Throughout the 18th and much of the 19th century, Da Beers managed to practically wipe out the competition. Da Beers controlled and sold approximately 85 to 90% of the world’s mined diamonds. By being the dominant channel source of the world’s diamonds, Da Beers convinced independent producers to distribute through them, and then flood the marketplace with similar diamonds of the competition that refused to join their cartel. As the new millennium approached, and new dominant diamond suppliers emerged, Da Beers lost their market control.


20 to 500 in 30: The Twitter Challenge

22 Feb
Twitter follow back


Although I KNOW how to properly use the many different social media outlets, I personally am not a fan of them (surprise surprise). I don’t care to see a vintage picture of your doughnut, your newest doughnut recipe, or that you even like doughnuts. Ironically, as the guy in charge of social media at Lewis Brown, I do realize that these different social media platforms give companies and individuals an opportunity to engage their peers, friends, and audience in a way that can be easy, fun and convenient.

As the social media guy, I also realize that our twitter account sucks, and I don’t like that. At Lewis Brown, we not only have the responsibility to demonstrate our prowess at mastering the different social media outlets, but we have the opportunity to show that social media is not as complicated as it may seem. With  a well thought out, systematic campaign, social media should be embraced and can be an important part of your marketing strategy today.

That is why starting next Monday (February 27th), I am going on what we at Lewis Brown have dubbed “The Twitter Challenge”. What is the twitter challenge you ask? It’s a contest to see if the social media department can use some Brown Magic™ and get @lewisbrownmrktg 500 followers within a month    (Odds are 5 to 1).

Using data from @hubspot and a few other resources, we are going to systematically and strategically get Lewis Brown to 500 followers in 30 days. I’m glad you asked, here are 5 ways we’re going to increase our followers and the data driven, thought process behind it.

1. Tweet often: We are going to tweet 1-4 times an hour between the hours of 8am and 8pm.

You cannot be apart of a social media site like twitter and not be social. With minimum engagement, it makes for a very boring twitter life . We are going to retweet relevant content, reply to and mention (@) post that are engaging to us and ask for participation from our followers. By doing so, you are letting people that follow you know you’re a source of information and that you understand the social aspect of twitter.

2. Add “Please ReTweet” to tweets. (when applicable)

Ever notice your favorite celebrity or anyone for that matter, add “RT” or “Please ReTweet” at the end of a tweet? That’s because simply asking your followers to “Please ReTweet” your post, increases the likelihood 4x of actually getting the ReTweet.

3.Tweet during peak times and days when most people are actually on twitter.

This can be a negative or positive depending on how you look at it. Twitter is a numbers game sometimes. Depending on how many people your followers follow and how active their timeline is, your amazingly clever tweet can get mixed in and  lost in your followers timeline. By tweeting on higher volume days like the beginning and mid-work week (Monday- Thursday) or during the busier morning and afternoon hours (9am-11am/ 2pm-5pm), we have the opportunity to gain more followers by being more visible.

5. K..I.S.S (Keep it Simple Stupid)

Your followers are more likely to engage with you and ReTweet your content when the language is simple. That’s not really surprising considering we live in a time where OMG, BTW, OMW, LOL, LMAO, IJS, SMH, and LOL can potentially be complete sentences. WTF?

Honorable mention of steps we have recently taken to improve our profile and attract more followers.

  • Add profile picture :/
  • Update and make bio succinct
  • Interlink our social media channels
  • Change twitter background
  • Tweet relevant content about what we do

p.s. See what I did there??

Not Tanning in America

13 Feb

“Tanning is the catalytic force majeure that went beyond musical boundaries and into the psyche of young America-blurring cultural and demographic lines so permanently that it laid the foundation for a transformation.”

A few weeks ago I read a very informative book that deals with two passions of mine: Marketing and the Hip Hop culture. That book was called The Tanning of America: How Hip Hop Created a Culture That Rewrote the Rules of the New Economy by Steve Stoute. The book examines how different movements and strategies throughout the history of Hip Hop have gone on to influence the larger mainstream culture as a whole; thus, forever changing the way young people interact and view one another.

I will not give away too much about the book, but it provides specific details of how some of the biggest names in music (Jay Z, Lady Gaga,  LL Cool J and Mary J. Blige to name a few) have used their musical influence to successfully, and almost seamlessly transfer that image into a world beyond music.

As Stoute goes on to chronicle the many campaigns that have successfully harnessed the mindset of younger generations, while at the same time understanding “the code”, I started thinking of companies that have tried to, but failed to remain authentic or connect with the audience..

Here are two commercials I recently noticed get it wrong and why.


‘ sorry, but a korean car company with 3 older white men driving around a whole food parking lot, rapping, is weird. Not only is it weird but it makes people uncomfortable. The commercial comes off as a poor execution of intertwining rap and… I’m not entirely sure.

I understand that the commercial actually features DJ Dave of the L.A group Fog and Smog and that they released a similar video last year called Whole Foods parking lot, and yes, I also understand that Hyundai has a history of using viral internet video unknowns in their commercial advertising, but come on. Really?

I know some people who caught the joke and thought the commercial was funny, but I also know people who thought it was a horrible fail at life. The image most people have of Hyundai, was not on par with the way the message of the commercial was delivered . Instead, our image of Hyundai was embarrassingly disrupted with the rapping white men and that in return created a bad commercial.

I guess at the end of the day, funny or not, the commercial resonated with a lot of people and that is ultimately the goal, right?


America’s favorite fast food joint. How have you gotten it so wrong for so long? Surprise, you’re not fooling anyone, especially this guy. In this particular case, McDonald’s, has obviously turned its marketing efforts into promoting its delicious burgers and nuggets to the middle class black community.

The commercial seems to reach out to the black demographic using stereotypical images. Whether it’s a black male singing an r&b song in the rain, black children playing double dutch on the sidewalk, or a man rapping about chicken nuggets, the targeting of the demographic is not very subtle.

Tanning is the collaboration of two seemingly different worlds, to create a new AUTHENTIC standard. If today’s consumer is a mindset and not a race as Stoute describes, Mickey D’s chooses to ignore this and at times overtly market to a race, the black community.

I APPLAUD McDonald’s for their 365Black campaign and acknowledging that Black History should be celebrated year round, but quite frankly, the entire campaign seems inauthentic. 365Black seems to be a preëmptive tactic against backlash for explicitly marketing to the black community. Why not have a 365Hispanic campaign? But I digress. You can do better McDonald’s.

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