Last week, Nike introduced a collection of on-field, sideline, training and lifestyle apparel, inspired by the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Called the NFL Nike Silver Speed Collection, it is centered around warmth and comfort.
“New York is the style center of the world,” said Todd Van Horne, Nike’s vice president and creative director of football. But because this game is being played outdoors, he said the company created a line that could “deal with all the elements,” whether it’s the next polar vortex or a midwinter thaw. The silver color of the Lombardi trophy was the inspiration for the collection, which includes everything from the Aeroloft Summit puffer jacket and a Sweatless jacket and pants, a reinvented warm-up, to Lunar Terra Arktos Boots and the new Vapor Carbon 2014 Elite Cleat, Super Bowl edition.
“We took a broader view this time,” he said, “and it has a more stylistic element because this is a city that cares how things look.”
Another key partner is Tommy Bahama, which signed a deal with the NFL in the fall to create a licensed collection of lifestyle apparel. The first product to be released is a half-zip pullover that features NFL team logos on the left sleeve and back collar and retails for $148. The second is a full-zip team jacket with NFL team logos and trim on the inside neck and a large team logo on the back for $295.
Rob Goldberg, senior vice president of marketing for Tommy Bahama, said the product has been a hot seller, led by the San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos and Chicago Bears items, all of which are sold out. “There’s so much power in the NFL brand,” he said. “They have a really loyal, passionate consumer.”
The manufacturer also produced a special Super Bowl sweatshirt that is selling well in its new New York City store, he said.
“People are really fired up because it’s in New York this year,” Goldberg said. “It’s becoming a collectors’ item and the Super Bowl attendees want premium product.”
Not be to outdone, Under Armour has rented out Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central Terminal from Thursday through Sunday of Super Bowl week and is creating a 12,500-square-foot interactive space to introduce its new holiday product line and tease its latest footwear launch, the SpeedForm Apollo running shoe, which will be released into the market on Feb. 28.
Although Under Armour doesn’t have specific Super Bowl merchandise, its roots are in football and it is involved with the NFL in other ways, including the Combine in February. So the brand will use the space to hold several events, including a motion technique footwear zone where fans can simulate catching a punt from an NFL kicker, or jump on a treadmill and try out the shoe, the first to be made in a bra factory. Several athletes are expected to make appearances at the space, according to Matt Mirchin, executive vice president of global marketing for Under Armour; there will be a live radio show broadcast and training classes with world-class trainers and former Wounded Warrior Project service members.
Under Armour will also host a press event at the space to unveil its commercials as well as its speed-skating and bobsled suits for the Olympics. The Baltimore-based company is preparing to open an office in New York and has taken 12,000 square feet in SoHo for a store scheduled to open in April.
“Our brand was born on the football field,” Mirchin said. “So it’s in our DNA. We broke $1 billion in sales in 2010 and will be $2.2 billion in 2013, so our marketing spend has more than doubled. We have more stories to tell and doing it during Super Bowl [week] is a real good investment.”
Carl Banks, former New York Giants linebacker and president of G-III Sports, has partnered with Iconix Brand Group’s Starter brand for a three-week-long pop-up Starter Clubhouse shop that will be located at the Paramount Hotel on West 46th Street starting Friday. The shop will hold a series of events, including fan appreciation nights, celebrity DJ sets, a celebrity poker tournament, professional athlete appearances and live radio-TV-Web broadcasts. The shop will feature NFL, NBA and MLB team jackets as well as the Starter Black Label premium collection featuring collaborations with prominent streetwear designers. There will also be a special-edition Super Bowl XLVIII Jacket.
Banks said he expects this Super Bowl to be especially notable.
“For fans who have never experienced New York, this will be great,” he said. “In other cities, you have to create programming, but not in New York.”
The only real challenge, he said, is the game. “Traditionally, [the] Super Bowl is held in a warm city where people can tailgate and then go to their seats. But it’s going to be hard to mill around outside here, and that will be a challenge for some fans.”
Leo Kane, the NFL’s senior vice president of consumer products, said the league is “embracing the cold. It’s all about understanding what you should wear and how. It’s really a layering story.” He said the NFL’s merchandise partners have stepped up to the plate this time to give fans “true Super Bowl style, whether it’s a great knit cap, a scarf, mittens or outerwear. But it’s all about being warm first, and then stylish.”
All told, the marketing and hype around this Super Bowl is unparalleled, according to the NFL.
“New York is the media capital of the world,” said the NFL’s Perlman, who noted that in addition to the fan activations in the streets and in the retail stores, all the entertainment shows that film here have also jumped on board. Players and Super Bowl-related events will be featured on everything from Jimmy Fallon and Rachael Ray to The Chew, as well as all the morning news and talk shows, she said.
There are Super Bowl ads on taxi tops, buses and subway cars and countdown clocks in Times Square and near the Lincoln Tunnel.
VH1, which has traditionally hosted a concert before every Super Bowl, is holding six in the New York area for this one, Perlman said, one in each borough as well as another in New Jersey, featuring acts including Gavin DeGraw, Fall Out Boy and the Goo Goo Dolls.
“We’re touching people with a different genre of music and in a different location every day,” she said, “but they’ll all have the ‘bigness’ and feel of [the] Super Bowl.”
Other events around town include a premiere of “Draft Day,” a football-related movie starring Kevin Costner that is coming out in April. “They thought they’d get the biggest bang for their buck because of all the celebrities in town for [the] Super Bowl,” Perlman said.
And it doesn’t stop there. On Jan. 30, the NFL will hold a press conference and roundtable discussion about the league’s antibullying initiatives in conjunction with Sports Illustrated. Flywheel, which holds indoor cycling classes, is running a contest through January at studios in the Tristate area, where riders are eligible for prizes and a chance to participate in a celebrity ride during Super Bowl weekend. There’s a Taste of the NFL event at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal, and even a sports career expo at the Gerald W. Lynch Theater at John Jay College in New York. DirecTV is hosting a Celebrity Beach Bowl at Pier 40, there’s a celebrity bowling tournament, NFL players will be featured in the “Rock of Ages” show on Broadway all Super Bowl week, and the list goes on.
But things really heat up the night before the game with the NFL Honors Red Carpet Show, a two-hour prime-time special on CBS hosted by Alec Baldwin. The event, which is being held at Radio City Music Hall, celebrates the best players, performances and plays from the 2013-14 season. Perlman said the league will use the show to announce its Hall of Fame inductees for the first time.
“And oh yeah, there’s that game on Sunday,” Perlman said with a laugh. “We’ve never done anything at this scale before.”
The NFL’s Kane agreed: “Bringing the Super Bowl to New York is an unprecedented opportunity,” he said.