How Super Bowl Champion Merchandise is Marketed Minutes After the Big Game with Help from Widen Digital Sampling and Digital Asset Management

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Saints Win! Saints Win! The 2010 Super Bowl between the New Orleans Saints and the Indianapolis Colts was watched by more than 106 million viewers, surpassing the 1983 finale of "M-A-S-H" to become the most-watched televised event in American history. This is the fifth consecutive year that the Super Bowl has averaged more than 90 million viewers, according to Nielsen.

That’s a lot of football fans and a lot of consumers that want to be the first to have the apparel the champions wear.

Minutes after the big game, I received this email from DICK’s Sporting Goods announcing the availability of the official Locker Room Merchandise from Reebok, the authentic outfitter of the NFL. No doubt, there are a lot of fans out there who want the Super Bowl XLIV Champion hat and t-shirt worn by their champagne popping locker-room heroes as soon as the outcome of the big game is decided.

Saints Super Bowl XLIV Champs Gear at Dick's Sporting Goods

How do retailers like DICK’s Sporting Goods get their hands on these images to have their emails and websites ready to go as soon as the champion is declared? More importantly, how does the Sports Licensed Division of The adidas Group make this process efficient, accurate and cost-effective?

With the help of Widen Digital Sampling and Digital Asset Management services, adidas can get official product images in the hands of their retailers who, in turn, get marketing messages in front of the eyes of the consumer as soon as a buying decision is ready to be made.

Widen digital sampling processes and digital asset management tools help ensure the entire digital supply chain is equipped with compelling, consistent and cost-effective content for commerce.

The Widen Digital Sampling process assists in the creation of digital apparel samples and the Widen web-based digital asset management system is used to manage, distribute and provide access to authentic image assets. As the official provider of licensed apparel for the NFL, NBA, and NHL, the adidas Sports Licensed Division (includes adidas and Reebok brands) uses Widen premedia services and DAM technologies to meet hot market demands for the Super Bowl, NBA Finals, and Stanley Cup Finals.  

Widen-powered technology and processes help retailers such as DICK’S Sporting Goods market championship apparel merchandise as soon you see the players wearing the hats and t-shirts after the big game is over.

Saints Super Bowl XLIV Champs Gear in the Widen-Powered Image Library

Saints Super Bowl XLIV Champs Gear in the Widen-powered image library (including blank hats).

What’s all included in the Widen Digital Sampling process? This premedia production process generally begins with photography of one neutral grey apparel sample. Next, digital sampling operators digitally create all color swatches according to league approved team colors. Lastly, graphics are applied according to Reebok/NFL technical guidelines and the final approved images are loaded into the image database where they can be centrally managed and available for download in a working file format.

All Reebok / adidas digital samples are loaded into the Widen-powered web-based image library, which holds the all apparel and headwear styles for the current and coming sports season for the NFL, NBA, and NHL. Since many of the physical apparel styles are not yet available in stores or online (or even physically produced en masse), many of the images are on hold and are tightly controlled using Widen’s governance tools. Styles and logos are often determined 6-7 months in advance of the coming season for the major sports leagues.

When it’s time for these assets to go to market, orders are placed in the DAM system and retailers can download the files according to exact specifications for print or web use. All users are required to sign off on a rights release agreement before they have access to the images. For example, DICK’s Sporting Goods was granted permission to access championship apparel images for the Saints and Colts so they could prepare their email marketing templates in advance of the Super Bowl.

As you can guess, the digital apparel sample production and distribution process shaves weeks off the time to market versus the process of physically producing, photographing and shipping physical samples. Plus, it streamlines a very difficult process—particularly when meeting hot market demands such as with championship merchandise. Besides the time savings of digital sample creation, adidas is able to drastically reduce costs of physically producing each item and team combination and the photography and shipping costs to go along with it.
Benefits of using hosted Digital Asset Management:

  • Accelerated search and retrieval time in accessing official imagery
  • Increased real-time collaboration of assets and approvals
  • Cost savings through the elimination of physical delivery of samples
  • Elimination of the cost of lost or misplaced work
  • Reduction in time-to-market through digital delivery

Here’s an inside look at the market preparedness leading up to the Super Bowl:

1 week before the NFL Conference Championships – Conference Championship merchandise was created for the eight teams in the Divisional Round (Baltimore, Indianapolis, N.Y. Jets, San Diego, Arizona, New Orleans, Dallas, and Minnesota)

2 weeks before the Super Bowl – Super Bowl Champion merchandise was created for the four teams in the Conference Championship Round (Indianapolis, N.Y. Jets, New Orleans, and Minnesota)

What happens to the images for the losing teams that didn’t make it, you ask? Quite simply, those are destroyed.


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