So What About Them Tees?
The Tee Shirt or “Tshirt” how most prefer to write it, has played a significant role and an integrated part of my various marketing plans since I started my first business a very long time ago! Now with the advent of the Internet and a keen, easy to remember name or company URL, the Tshirt can be a very powerful tool. There is a lot to say for the Marketing methods of the past, the Old School advertising ways, don’t discount them one bit. Even the use of business cards and post cards is still very powerful. Combine these two marketing elements and look out! My friends that work in the Digital world of Social Media Marketing don’t want you to think that, but when someone sees you in a company Tshirt and comments, it is a very simple task to pull out a two-sided, beautifully printed, high quality, business or post card and hand it to them. Starting at only $29.00 per thousand that small 2 x 3.5″ tool can wallop a great punch in a partnership with your Tshirt campaign and help your company reach a level of success beyond what you could imagine; and to think it cost a tiny fraction of many other marketing campaigns in today’s modern digital world.
Even on its own, the Tshirt has been a huge success from the get go. The “T-Shirt” surfaced in the United States as a standard issue by the U.S. Navy sometime around the period of the Spanish American War. But way before that the original Tshirt was invented during the Middle ages as an “undergarment”. During the 19th Century the Navy adopted this and featured the crew-neck and short sleeved garment to be worn as underwear beneath the uniform. Shortly after this, the Army followed as part of the standard issue ensemble given to recruits. Of course, it got its unique name from the simple fact of its shape resembling the letter “T”. It became popular very quickly as it was such an easy to clean garment and mothers loved it for their sons as outerwear for chores and play. By the 1920’s the “T-shirt” became an official American-English word in the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary.
So how did it become a printed product? The earliest printed shirt was a tee made for promoting The Wizard of OZ in 1939. Official historical credit of the first printed Tshirt worn in a photo usually goes to the Air Corps Gunnery School “promotional” T-shirt featured on the July 13th, 1942 cover of LIFE magazine (there’s one you need Sujan for your collection).
Then good old Mickey Mouse would follow in those footsteps a few years later as an exclusively licensed print for Tropix Togs, a company founded by Sam Kantor in Miami, Florida.
One might think once Tshirts were used to promote Mickey Mouse that was it, but actually it wasn’t until Marlon Brando wore one in A Streetcar Named Desire that the Tshirt skyrocketed to even greater heights. It became fashionably cool to wear as an outer garment.
When the 60’s came along, the T-shirt was now the impetus for self expression and wearable art for an entire generation and movement of primarily young, creative minds! The commercialism of theTshirt began as it took off as an advertising tool, souvenir messages, promotional campaigns, and even protests.
The 1960’s Psychedelic artist Warren Dayton pioneered several political, and pop-culture art Tshirts featuring images of Cesar Chavez, several political cartoons, and other many other cultural icons of that era. Many of the designs produced in the 1970’s are just as popular today as they were back then, maybe even more so. Some of the more notable shirt designs over the decades include the yellow “Smiling” Happy Face Tees, The Rolling Stones’ “Tongue and Lips” logo, “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” St. Patrick’s Day slogan, and the legendary “I ♥ SF”, “I ♥ N Y” or any of the “I ♥ __” variants and spoofs. Of course there is the ever popular Tshirt message “My parents went to ______ (name of place), and all I got was this lousy T-shirt!”, “Who farted?”, “I’m With stupid —->”, and a multitude of other crazy tees.
Sujan, you and many others have lived it so have I, the success from using Tshirts. We don’t need to convince ourselves the value and power of a Tshirt campaign. We already know and have experienced, what I like to refer to as, “The Power of the T” or “Power to the ‘T’ Degree”! Tshirts have always been powerful and IMHO, are even more powerful today!
The company Event City is about to launch a product that will certainly change how people live, attend events, purchase, acquire and receive whatever they buy at any given time, wherever they might be. You can bet they’ll have a Tshirt for that as well!
I wish all of you well and best in your continued success and if you haven’t tried a Tshirt campaign now’s the time to do that.
This article was influenced by my business partner and In2Hollywood Co-Founder David Falicki and Sujan Patel, the CEO of When I Work and Single Grain Internet based companies in the San Francisco Bay Area. It seems we all share the same passion about the power of the T-shirt.