Special Edition Jerseys Need to Get Creative

Another ‘holiday’, another special edition jersey.

Yes, Halloween is upon us and the now annual game of ‘which team has a Halloween jersey?’ is afoot.

Depending on the time of year you can of course transplant Christmas, Valentines Day and alike in place of Halloween. It’s all the same. It’s all so simple. It’s all so boring.

Special edition jerseys have become a lazy cash cow for clubs, diminishing in value all the time; not in terms of pennies and pounds but in terms of actually being special.

Can’t clubs at least be a little creative with these ventures?

Special edition jerseys sell. They always sell. Collectors love them, ‘ordinary’ fans love them, because they are unique, something genuinely limited edition with only around 22 of them (depending on roster size and blood shirts) ever becoming available.

And of course clubs love them because they’re an easy PR story and, more importantly, always turn a profit.

So it’s not hard to do the math and add up why teams produce these special editions. All power to them for tapping in to a revenue stream still yielding results. Make your money where you can etc.

But the depressing predictability with which they are now trotted out is only bettered in the tedium stakes by the tiresome claims by clubs that they ‘didn’t know if it would work out’, when each jersey inevitably attracts fans interest – and their cash – just like we all secretly knew they would.

Here’s our Halloween jersey.

Here’s a Christmas jersey.

Here’s a St. Patrick Day jersey.

They’ve all come before – either at another club, or the same. It’s just recycling old ideas over and over.

Again, they sell so lets not take this as some suggestion clubs should stop doing special editions. They shouldn’t because if something sells it’d be stupid to stop selling it.

This is an appeal – an appeal to do something different. To be truly special. To literally be a one of a kind design no other club will ape in the near future.

It’s not like there aren’t other incarnations that could help inspire clubs – just today the Toledo Walleyes unveiled the jerseys they, and the Fort Wayne Komets, will wear when the two teams meet on November 21st.

Walleyes Komets

OPPOSING SHIRTS! How complicated is it for two teams to get together like this? To stand out in a league that also houses the Bakersfield Condors, the Kings of the special edition jersey after years of rolling out commemorative shirts based around everything from Seinfeld to wrestling.

Toledo is already reaping rewards via the increased amount of coverage the hockey mediasphere has already given them just hours of unveiling the shirts.

I guess this must be a strange concept to a hockey nation like ours, all too accustomed to seeing itself linked to stories about players throwing their helmets at each other or spats over cancelled games rather than the fun side of the sport or, y’know, actual puck on stick action. But I digress.

Toldeo and Fort Wayne’s jerseys won’t only catch their existing fans eye, they stand a chance of reaching out beyond their normal demographic, to grab the attention of other spheres of interest – because you can guarantee their Super Mario inspired shirts will find their way on to gaming news sites as well.

In the past week, we’ve had Back to the Future Day and a new Bond film – ideas that could so easily be explored, provide something different. Imagine a Bond themed Coventry Blaze jersey followed by a casino night in Crosby’s bar?

Will they be for everyone? No. But you can’t please all of the people all of the time, and frankly the unique nature of a James Bond jersey will shift 22 shirts in no time at all and the PR practically writes itself.

Of course there are rights issues and so forth to consider; but to just let such things pass by is a wasted opportunity. To not even consider it a disservice. The same tired ideas are trotted out, trying to milk every drop from a fan base, with many designs linked to specific events rather than being something the owner feels they can throw on at any time.

As noted, Bakersfield are something of the masters of self promotion when it comes to this sort of thing. The held a Charlie Sheen Night in 2011, and sold toilet paper with the logo of their rival team, Fresno, on.

Simple but effective.

The creativity exists within the British game, it does. It just needs to be allowed a chance to shine. To try things. To step outside the norm sometimes.

Special jerseys are a guaranteed seller that also lets a club think outside the box – a rare opportunity. Someone seize it. Please.

I look forward to seeing Cardiff’s Star Wars jerseys in December.


About Rob

Software engineer by day, Elite League Media man by night, Rob also blogs about cricket for One Stump Short, hockey for In Goal Magazine and video games for Outpost Delta as well as hosting the One Stump Short Podcast.

Posted on October 29, 2015, in British Hockey, Hockey and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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