Whaddya Know… Popular Mechanics Connects With Young Fans With T-Shirts And A Contest

from the plenty-of-tshirts dept

Hearst Magazines, which is the division of the Hearst Corporation behind Popular Mechanics, has teamed up with Old Navy to print t-shirts with old Popular Mechanics illustrations aimed at kids. The classic artwork is supposed to revive interest in the new editions of Popular Mechanics as well as generate some enthusiasm for mechanical gadgets related to transportation (think 1950s rocket cars and electric motorcycle concepts). Along with the shirts, the magazine is also sponsoring a ‘Kids Can Do Great Things Design Contest’ for children (up to 12) to submit their own artwork. The winner of the contest will get a $500 shopping spree at Old Navy and have the design printed in the magazine — and if it looks good on a shirt, they’ll sell shirts, too.

Not too long ago, we mentioned Rolling Stone magazine trying out a similar merchandise program (though with a few more legal complications), so this isn’t exactly a novel concept (and we never said it was). But it’s interesting that more publications are experimenting with efforts to connect with fans — and especially younger fans to keep the fan pipeline filled. And one of the key components for this Popular Mechanics example is that it fits with the magazine’s audience and also highlights a common theme from the magazine. This is the beginning of creating a brand for the magazine that features why readers should be interested in paying attention to it. Namely, if you’re looking for articles and concept artwork related to futuristic transportation solutions, Popular Mechanics is where to go.

If this t-shirt trend continues, though, we’ll have to be on the lookout for newspapers printing t-shirts, too. I’m pretty sure there would be a market for WSJ-style hedcut artwork on t-shirts — and some copyright issues for it as well.

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Companies: hearst, popular mechanics

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Comments on “Whaddya Know… Popular Mechanics Connects With Young Fans With T-Shirts And A Contest”

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12 Comments
Edward Barrow (profile) says:

t-shirts are a rubbish proxy

Take one cheap t-shirt, made in a sweatshop in Bangladesh from cotton irrigated by water from dying inland seas…

print it up with a bit of apparel-unrelated branding…

sell it at a fat markup… based on some cultivated loyalty..

use the excess profits to pay professional musicians/journalists as professionals.

Sorry, but as a business model this sucks: making more crap stuff destined for landfill because we haven’t figured out how to make money to pay professionals as professionals is unsustainable in so many ways. When the professionals are producing stuff you can’t touch, like music, sooner or later we are going to have to work out how we can get punters to pay for stuff you can’t touch. That may or may not involve copyright; it almsot certainly involves trust; but tangible proxy value-carriers like t-shirts are a terrible idea.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: t-shirts are a rubbish proxy

Sorry, but as a business model this sucks: making more crap stuff destined for landfill because we haven’t figured out how to make money to pay professionals as professionals is unsustainable in so many ways.

Why? And if it’s just “crap stuff destined for landfill” then you’re not doing it right.

When the professionals are producing stuff you can’t touch, like music, sooner or later we are going to have to work out how we can get punters to pay for stuff you can’t touch.

Sure. And we’ve discussed an awful lot of business models based on stuff you can’t touch. Selling things like access, reputation, exclusivity, convenience, trust. Those are all things you can’t touch.

But they’re also scarce.

The thing you can’t sell are things that are abundant. That’s just economics.

That may or may not involve copyright; it almsot certainly involves trust; but tangible proxy value-carriers like t-shirts are a terrible idea.

No one has ever said that t-shirts are the answer, so I’m not sure why you imply that.

But I’ll also note that you repeatedly say it’s a terrible idea, but never explain why.

Anonymous Coward says:

Like Haynes Manuals

This is an established routine that tends to benefit the clothes retailer more than the original publication or brand.

In the UK, a company called Haynes produces manuals that allow people to maintain their cars. The manuals have been produced in the same style for years and have very distinctive branding that echoes a better age. The branding has been licensed for use on bags, t-shirts etc. because it is eye-catching and looks good. It is unlikely that this move has done anything to add to the number of manuals that Haynes sold but it has provided a new revenue stream through licensing the images and branding.

This is more about drawing on an untapped inventory of branding and imagery rather than connecting with fans.

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