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New Service Lets YouTubers Sell Swag From Video Pages

In a Nutshell

*The new merch service displays branded products in a shelf below videos –fans click on items to purchase.

*Teespring and YouTube get a cut of the sales.

YouTube just took a big step into the promotional products industry – and boosted a competitor to traditional distributors in so doing.

The San Bruno, CA-based company announced last week that creators with more than 10,000 fans can sell branded merchandise directly through their channel on the popular video sharing website. Teespring, a web-based custom merchandise platform, will provide the fulfillment. Creators will be able to offer more than 20 merch items with their custom branding, including T-shirts, phone cases and hats.

As part of the service, branded items will appear in a shelf below participating creators' videos. To buy, a fan simply clicks on a product image in the shelf and is re-directed to Teespring, where they purchase the item. A number of media outlets reported that some YouTube creators already had success with the new swag service during beta testing. The creator of Lucas the Spider, for example, made more than $1 million in profit in about three weeks after selling a plush version of Lucas through the YouTube/Teespring service.

According to Teespring, YouTubers that sold through the merch shelf during beta testing experienced an 82% success rate. In fact, Teespring said conversions from views to sales tested at 2-½ times higher than with the typical YouTuber process for pitching merch on the platform, which essentially involves providing links to online destinations where creators' swag can be bought. Bottom line: It all translated into 25% more units sold per participating user in the limited beta group, data showed.

Given such numbers, it's not a surprise that other YouTubers were keen to get in on the action after YouTube moved to full rollout late last week.

Still, there was some backlash against YouTube's decision to partner with Teespring, which has been at the center of controversy for failing to detect that independent creators were selling everything from swastika/Nazi gear to pro Dylann Roof T-shirts on its platform.

Meanwhile, some critics noted that certain YouTubers already have merch partnerships with other companies and might not desire to use Teespring. YouTube is not requiring creators to use the on-page merch shelf offering, meaning video makers can still plug links to swag-buying destinations as has been done. Admittedly, that might put such creators at a disadvantage. Even so, YouTube is reportedly looking to add more online custom product providers from which creators can sell merch directly through its platform.

For those interested in the financial mechanics, it appears Teespring will retain a flat price per item sold. YouTubers will be able to set the pricing on products so there is potential for mark-up on popular products, which could possibly lead to substantial profit. Teespring's cut can vary per item and on quantity sold. YouTube receives a commission on the sales, but did not reveal the specifics of its compensation.

For Teespring, the partnership with YouTube is a huge win. Laying employees off amid difficult times a few years ago, the web-based merch seller now stands ready to benefit from a potentially massive new revenue channel. Could the exposure Teespring will gain threaten at least some sales for traditional distributors? Could the YouTube/Teespring partnership weaken distributors' ability to compete for the business of YouTubers selling merch? We'll be interested to see how things play out.

Capsule Collection Weds High Fashion With World Cup Spirit

In a Nutshell

*Fashion designers created looks for hoodies and T-Shirts to represent nations participating in the 2018 World Cup.

*Part of the proceeds benefit a children's charity.

Some mega popular international footballers – soccer players to us Yanks – are known to translate their sporting stardom into being fashion icons off the pitch. Just think of the ever Instagramable David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo. Given that, the new Soccer Couture collection of printed apparel tied to the 2018 World Cup makes a lot of sense.

The capsule collection is the fruit of a partnership between online fashion retailer Yoox and SEPP, a publication covering soccer/fashion. The pair enlisted fashion designers to create looks to embellish T-Shirts and sweatshirts. Each graphic represents something about the spirit of a nation whose national football team is participating in the World Cup, the international tournament being played now into July. Participating fashionistas include Vivienne Westwood, Marta Marques and Paulo Almeida, and Esteban Cortazar.

Hearteningly, part of the proceeds from sales of the #YOOXSOCCERCOUTURE capsule collection are being donated to Stars for Children, a charitable foundation founded in 2015 by Russian soccer player Alexander Kerzhakov to support kids in need and help them get involved in sports.

Anyway, without further ado, here are a few samples from the collection:

This design from Isolda supports Brazil – the nation that's won the World Cup more than any other (five times). Designers intend the plants and wildlife in the print, which are native to Brazil, to capture the essence of a big multicultural country that is unified by its love of soccer.

Created by Kolor, this design displays the famous Rising Sun of the Japanese flag. Designers said the idea is to show that passion for soccer can connect people, encouraging unity that helps them to become one – like a single rising sun.

This design from Nio Far x Mwami represents Senegal – sadly now eliminated from the tourney. Still, it's a great design, using the symmetry and position of the Senegal lion as a nod to traditional African masks.

Marques'Almeida came up with this creation that takes the brand's penchant for stripes and divvies the concept up into abstract shapes in the striped colors of Portugal's flag.

Let Freedom Ring with Vintage Americana Clothing

In a Nutshell

*Retro patriotic styles have an enduring appeal.

*Don't limit yourself to Independence Day. There are plenty of opportunities year-round to pitch this trend.

A sea of people in red, white and blue emerge each year to celebrate the Fourth of July with fireworks and festivities. But stars and stripes – particularly with a faded, distressed look – have an unflagging, year-round appeal.

Classic Americana "never goes out of style because it's homegrown and therefore touches on the nostalgic aspect of the unique American spirit," according to the Creative Market blog.

Alternative Apparel (asi/34850) recently released its Americana-inspired apparel line that features the classic red, white and blue in vintage style. The company used a "fabric first" approach to ensure soft, simple and eco-friendly apparel.

"Our Americana collection is the perfect apparel for any [Fourth of July] celebration," says Kevin Miles, director of sales operations for Alternative Apparel. "And beyond our favorite star-studded holiday, the vintage look of these styles is classic and timeless. The elevated stars-and-stripes prints create neutral design elements as a backdrop for embellishment."

Alternative Apparel's Americana collection includes baseball tees, ringer T-shirts, sweatshirts and tank tops.

To achieve a Vintage Americana look, designers typically use dusty reds, dirty whites and faded blues. The perfect balance of all three ensures no color overpowers another. Plus, it's more subtle and retro than the bright and vibrant flag motifs typically deployed for the Fourth of July. Think of any design or aesthetic that brings you back to the good old days. Vintage Americana reflects classic cars, 1970s-era John Travolta films and cozy diners from the 1950s.

Vintage Americana has an enduring patriotic feeling, which thrives despite the challenges the U.S. currently faces, according to Lea Robinson, vice president of sales and marketing for Staton Corporate and Casual (asi/89380). "It's a feeling that never goes away, whereas [saturated red, white and blue looks] feel like we are celebrating more in the moment."

The vintage Americana trend has broad appeal across party lines and demographics. After all, "Vintage is ageless," Robinson says.

"It's really the convergence of three well-established trends — the popularity of classic styles like baseball tees and ringer tees, the appeal of the vintage look and feel, and the drive toward authentic brands," Miles says. "It also connects to the idea of sustainability and durability."

Vantage Apparel (asi/93390) has also been capitalizing on the retail trend by applying vintage design to its merchandise. Even the cover page of this year's Vantage Apparel catalog is rendered in red, white and blue.

"Our design team spent a lot of time researching trends and putting together different ideas for this year's merchandise," says Gina Barreca, director of marketing for Vantage. "We decided on something that would show different colors and patterns that would work for various companies. The colors red, white and blue were up there and we saw an opportunity to go beyond the basic idea."

The Vansport Zen Pullover (3450 men's, 3451 women's) from Vantage Apparel

A screen print with a vintage Americana feel by Vantage Apparel.

This Gildan Fleece Hoodie with Custom Color Draw Cord features decoration with a vintage Americana feel.

Vantage Apparel has also explored the idea of adding the stars and stripes pattern within the fill of a logo to give it a patriotic look. Even clients that have strict logo guidelines have options: "Adding the company established date to a logo or using a small flag as a second placement are easy ways to put a heritage spin to apparel," Barreca says.

The company also recommends screen printing with soft-hand inks and distressed art filters to achieve the vintage and nostalgic aspect of the Americana theme. Soft cotton-rib appliqué also fits with the vintage Americana look.

For J. America (asi/62977), vintage styles have been surfacing in the past few years. Steve Zimmerman, vice president of sales, says that vintage designs continue to be a staple of the company's assortment, because "they are timeless." J. America recently introduced vintage Americana to its Top of the World headwear collection, by adding a vintage wash to the fabric.

Vintage Americana evokes a classic, nostalgic and retro feeling in the wearer. Showing off samples in that style will help you get that message across to clients, Miles says. "Create a trend sheet that captures vintage Americana styles from runways to retail displays," he suggests.

Though vintage Americana is a perfect fit for Independence Day, there's no need to retire the style after the fireworks fizzle and the picnics peter out. Opportunities to use the retro motif abound, suppliers say.

"Our country has gotten very patriotic the last couple of decades, not that we hadn't been prior to then," Zimmerman says. "Between our national holidays, sporting events, the agriculture market and what now seems to be endless election campaigning across the country, there are numerous opportunities for distributors and decorators to work with end users on Americana themes year round."

J. America introduced vintage Americana styling to its headwear collection.

Techdirt Promotional Products Based On Declassified NSA Security Posters

Techdirt is an influential blog that delivers keen insights into technology's legal challenges and related business and economic policy issues.

The Techdirt team is also pretty savvy when it comes to spotting an opportunity for clever promotional products that, in their way, augment the blog's brand and help it to raise funds to support its mission.

Case-in-point: Government Attic recently filed a Freedom of Information Request that resulted in the release of posters the National Security Agency (NSA) made in the 1950s and 60s to remind employees about security. After Techdirt got feedback about the posters, they decided to reproduce the prints on T-Shirts, hooded sweatshirts and coffee mugs. The branded merchandise has been on offer in the blog's swag store on Teespring. All profits from sales of the merch support Techdirt's ongoing reporting on copyright, technology and innovation.

A Techdirt T-Shirt based on an old NSA security poster. See this print on a mug and hoodie here.

The use of once classified information as swag is a nice match for the Techdirt brand. After all, the blog is focused on journalistic digging – on delving deep to uncover the real roots of important issues at the intersection of technology, business and related economics.

Also, quite honestly, the merch is cool in a retro way that we dig. Check out a few examples below.

See this print on a T-Shirt and hoodie here.

See this print on a T-Shirt and mug here.

See this print on a T-Shirt and hoodie here.

See this print on a hoodie and mug here.

Promotional Products Part of Historic TrumpKim Summit

U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean "Supreme Leader" Kim Jong-un are set to engage in historic face-to-face talks regarding possible nuclear disarmament of North Korea in Singapore. While the potential geopolitical implications are beyond our humble scope, we thought we'd mention this: There are promotional products tied to the summit – perhaps not a surprise given the global interest in the event.

The Straits Times, an English language broadsheet newspaper based in Singapore, had the below prefilled, single-use water bottle on offer:

At least some folks were eager to get their hands on summit swag:

Others disparaged The Straits Times summit-branded merchandise:

Additionally, Los Angeles Times reported that, on the ground in Singapore, there were cardboard fans and coffee cups that showed depictions of Trump and Kim. BBC Asia Bureau Chief Imelda Flattery noted that the summit's media center had summit-branded coffee cups:

Back in May, in anticipation of an earlier round of proposed talks between Trump and Kim that were cancelled, the White House Communications Agency was selling a coin – or medallion since it has no currency value. It was to commemorate the meeting:

It appears there will be more coins/medallions. The White House Gift Shop was making new commemorative coins available for pre-order as of Monday. The gift shop website said images of the first coin – apparently there will be another as well for a series of three -- would be released on Tuesday June 12th. Coins were expected to begin shipping Aug. 1.

Beyond the merch, there's a bit of a surreal atmosphere surrounding the summit between two of the world's most controversial leaders. For example, people were lining up in Singapore to take pictures with Kim and Trump impersonators. Pics reportedly cost $11.

Another element kicking the "What the heck?" factor of the summit into overdrive was the fact that Dennis Rodman, the eccentric former NBA star, was traveling to Singapore. Rodman says he is a friend of Trump and Kim. He was going to Singapore as part of a promotional push for a digital currency for the cannabis industry. While certainly not expected to figure in the talks, Rodman was offering to be a facilitator for Trump and Kim:

Los Angeles Times reported that about 2,500 members of the media have registered for the summit. That's the largest contingent ever hosted in Singapore, according to The Straits Times.

Promotional Products Were Everywhere At Wizard World Comic Con

From free swag to swanky branded merchandise, Wizard World Comic Con Philadelphia abounded with promotional products. There was everything from official logoed event gear for purchase, to giveaways from a variety of vendors and exhibitors, including household name brands like Xfinity and 5-hour Energy.

Held Thursday through Sunday at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in Philadelphia, the pop culture event featured talented comic book artists, unique toys and comics for sale, in-person autograph signings from celebrities such as Sebastian Stan, Elijah Wood, Jason Momoa, Sean Astin, and Henry Winkler, and much more. I swung by to check out the merch on offer (tough gig, I know). Here's what I found…and a saber fight…keep scrolling...

First up, official Wizard World Comic Con branded merchandise! As you can see in these first four photos, wearables, totes, drawstring backpacks and lanyards were part of the mix.

DKMS is a nonprofit that helps blood cancer patients find matching donors. To get Comic Con attendees engaged with its mission, the group came up with what the best giveaway I spotted from an exhibitor: This branded cape. It's a perfect product to connect with the superhero-loving Comic Con crowd. DKMS was also giving out the below earbuds in a branded clear plastic slide-open pouch.

Xfinity was promoting HBO GO with the above hat, which attendees were snapping up. Xfinity, which offers cable, internet, telephone and wireless services, also co-branded with Wizard World on the below freebie tote. Neat aside: Xfinity had screenprinters creating totes on the spot.

You could get these 5-hour Energy sunglasses by participating in a basketball shootout game at 5-hour's tent booth, which had a real-world game set similar to this for the hoops fun.

A super friendly woman at The Lasik Vision Institute table asked me if I was interested in Lasik surgery. I felt bad telling her not really, but she was still nice enough to give me this credit card holder to slap on the back of my phone.

Lots of parents attend Wizard World Comic Con with their kids. It makes sense then for a charter school like Commonwealth Charter Academy to promote at the event. As part of the effort, Commonwealth was handing out free pens, drawstring totes, dog-shaped stress toys, and info cards with a friendly dog mascot.

Army recruiters had a table at the event, too. The guys were very friendly and insisted I take this water bottle and keychain. I was happy to oblige.

A fair share of movie promoting was going on, and there were various types of swag to support the hype-push. I scored these Teen Titans buttons at a booth after playing a little game. To get the buttons – or potentially other movie-themed freebies – you spun a game wheel. You got whatever swag item the wheel fell still upon.

TV station PHL17 was promoting itself. By liking the station on Facebook, you were entered for a chance to win one of these fun show shirts, I was told.

Well, T-Mobile wasn't about to let itself be missed, was it?

Dudes from The Saber Legion, an international saber combat organization as it were, had quite the duel. I didn't record to the end because it went on a bit (sorry), but the fellow in all black emerged victorious (I'm pretty sure).

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