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The NFL was a little more colorful this past weekend, as hundreds of
players wore logoed customized cleats to raise awareness and money for
Players this season have been expressing their personality and
fashion tastes with colorful custom cleats – shoes that would also
violate the NFL dress code and draw a fine. For Week 13 of the football
season, the NFL called a détente on the shoe wars and concocted “My
Cause My Cleats,” a campaign designed to raise awareness for different
social causes. More than a third of the league – over 500 players –
donned cleats with custom designs representing a charity or cause of
“While there has always been interest and adoption at the youth level
in sports, customized footwear has now taken the main stage in many
verticals such as sports with the NFL’s Week 13 efforts or fashion with
UGG stores offering the opportunity on their famous boots,” Josh
Ellsworth, general manager of Stahls’(asi/88984) CAD-CUT Direct
division, tells Counselor. Ellsworth noted the increasing demand for
personalization and advances in a number of decoration techniques,
including heat printing, direct-to-garment, UV printing and embroidery.
“They are helping to drive quality products and, therefore, profitable
new sales opportunities for businesses.”
Traditionally, NFL players must wear shoes without brand names and
logos (beyond that of the shoe manufacturer) – it’s a fine of $6,076 for
first-time infractions and $12,154 for subsequent ones. But the cleats
sported by players last week featured all sorts of colorful logos,
graphics and designs to raise awareness about issues such as domestic
abuse, animal cruelty and rare diseases. NFL Auction has also allowed
bidding on the shoes with 100% of the proceeds benefiting respective
Ellsworth says customized footwear meshes well with the promotional
product industry because it centers on memorability. “Custom branded
shoes can be the next great thing that aligns with a campaign’s goals,”
Ellsworth says. “Consider the following opportunities: customized
footwear that supports a special cause for a charity run/walk,
promotional footwear with a ‘Kick Cancer’ mantra that allows on-demand
customization, promotional sneakers for a company’s event staff that
will be on their feet all day or even custom shoes with a player’s name,
number, or hashtag.”
However, Ellsworth warns that there are challenges to consider.
“Footwear does bring in an element of sizing, so inventory risk for
print on demand or in advance promotional opportunities can be costly,”
he says. “The shoe fits when you have a good understanding of exactly
who your customer is and what size they want.”
Here’s a look at several of the cleat designs that were worn by the players.
Washington Capitals winger Alex Ovechkin is quite a hockey player.
Not only has "Ovi" amassed nearly 1,000 NHL points in just over 11
seasons, but he's internationally recognized as one of the game's most
talented and popular players. So admired is the Russian-born Ovechkin
that his likeness is frequently etched on bobbleheads and given away as
part of Washington Capital promotions, with this season being no
However, this year’s bobblehead is a little different.
Included in this bobblehead statue giveaway – part of a promotion that encourages multi-game ticket purchases
– is a clever Ovi “Career Points” counter at the base that can be
manually updated each time a point is scored. So as the winger draws
nearer to the vaunted 1,000-point club, fans can tick off the points in
What makes this small, but not insignificant, feature brilliant is
that it transforms a traditional bobblehead from a somewhat boring
collectible item, usually stored in dark closets and display cases, to
an interactive one that commands attention. People are going to want to
display this item prominently in their home theaters, man (and woman)
caves, desks and offices.
And as Ovi continues to score points well past 1,000 – he’s still in
his prime at 31 and could play another 10 years – this item will prove
to have far more staying power and promotional impact than any
traditional bobblehead ever could.
Harley-Davidson has a longstanding brand connection with pets,
dating back to 1914 when Miss Della Crewe drove cross-country on a
Harley accompanied by her Boston bulldog, Trouble, in the sidecar
sporting a special custom sweater.
“To us, dog is family, and Harley-Davidson is a family-oriented
brand,” says Jodi Politowski, motor clothes manager at the House of
Harley Davidson in Milwaukee. The company also has a strong relationship
with the Humane Society and sponsors many pet-oriented events and
fundraisers to support that partnership.
Pets are welcome at all of the company’s showroom locations, with pet
bowls and treats available for furry friends, as well as an array of
themed merchandise. Initially Harley-Davidson offered collars and
leashes, but eventually its exclusive supplier, Coastal Pet Products,
recognized it should expand its pet product offerings, according to
“Harley riders are passionate about our product,” she says. “Many
will come in when they get a new dog to have it fitted for a
Harley-Davidson collar, and some even pick Harley-related names for
Harley-themed pet merchandise is available for sale on the company website www.houseofharley.com
as well as in showrooms and at Harley-sponsored events. Its best
sellers are its leather-spiked collars, pet apparel for smaller dogs and
a pet fleece hoodie, according to Politowski.