There’s an old adage in the world of golf, attributed to Gary Player, after someone suggested he had been lucky. The wizened Player stared back and proclaimed that “the harder I practice, the luckier I get”.
This anecdote came to mind after lunching with Chris Lindland of Betabrand, where he talked about the impact of so-called “Hoodie Gate” on his business. (for more on Betabrand see here )
Mark Zuckerberg favors the hoodie as his go-to fashion item — the hoodie is to Zuck as the black mock turtle was to Stephen P. And so a few weeks back Chris and team decided to make an Executive Hoodie cut from classic chalk-stripe (read Wall St) suiting material to help celebrate the Facebook IPO.
It fit perfectly the way they think — start with the story, then think of a product — and they knew they’d be able to draft off the incredible amount of coverage the IPO would generate. It’s a classic piece of Challenger behavior — spot a big trend, try like hell to attach your brand to it to put yourself into new conversations. (Note: Kulula airlines is particularly good at this as this interview and their latest ad shows.
Betabrand had high hopes and even a sense of the long term plan this story could contribute to (see video for details of the new West Coast clothing vibe is he is trying to create), but they could not have predicted that would happen when Zuck got into a spat with a Wall Street type over whether it was appropriate to wear his signature on the IPO roadshow.
Suddenly, the Executive Hoodie was the hottest item at Betabrand and sold out immediately. There’s now a waiting list of 6 weeks while production ramps up and Chris announced this will be their best month ever, which is saying something coming on the back of double digit growth each month since he started.
Chris tells the story of the Hoodie to Mark over a damn fine cup of coffee
Was he lucky? Of course. He couldn’t have foreseen the furor that Michael Pachter’s comments created. But Chris practices hard at looking for stories to insert his clothes into and that earns luck like HoodieGate.
So, sometimes it pays to start with the story. As I was saying to my friend and Lark COO Shannon McClenaghan the other day, perhaps more marketing departments — especially those of start-ups — should think and act like a newspaper, with a daily editorial meeting in the AM to review all the stories they are pursuing with the only difference being trying to understand how to insert their brand into the stories of the day.
And if a daily deadline seems a little harsh for Marketers, consider that Betabrand now launches three products a week.