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The Merchification of the Super Bowl

It ain’t new but it hits different this year
February 9, 2021

Early edition of The Senses this week covering all things Super Bowl, and the notable (and ignoble) themes we caught in-between all the penalties, er, I mean, downs.

The superest of bowls has always been about the merch. Just last year the widely-panned Planters Baby Peanut x VaynerMedia campaign flop produced a line of ugly Christmas sweaters. And don’t get us started on what happens to the merch for the losing team. But this year it hits different. 2020’s leisure-fest was eventually co-opted by brands, as well-documented in this very newsletter (read prior editions here). 

Merchify Everything

You’d be forgiven for missing three fairly subtle, but notable, merch pushes that happened during Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Florida this past Sunday. Astute viewers caught that the Tide ad worked in Gen Z / CARLY themes with anemoia-influenced hoodie, featuring Seinfeld’s Jason Alexander, screen-printed in full-bleed glory. This ad hit on every single theme of our 2021 Vision report under the Consumer category: performance art, absurdity, merch, and nostalgia. You can donate to charity and win the actual hoodie via Tide’s website, but Etsy sellers have beat them to the punch.

Collabs and Superteams

The Weeknd teamed up with infamous Nike customs maker Warren Lotas. Lotas has a lotas time on his hands since being slapped with a $10M lawsuit C&D from Beaverton after ripping off their swoosh on “lookalike” (read: counterfeit) Dunks. This tongue-in-cheek teamup doesn’t go unnoticed, and teams up nicely with the halftime show singer who has his share of punches for being a person of color performing for the NFL after the events of the Summer of 2020. Maybe that’s why he wears all those bandages?

Hustle culture x Polly Darton: Intentional misspelling there, fwiw. The singer reworked her famous song for a collab with Squarespace, enabling the creator culture that has fueled much of the pandemic-led rise of entrepreneurship. The catchy, if not dyslexic, rewording of “nine to five” into “five to nine” celebrates all things hustle, which is super inspiring and actually kind of dark. Not all of your hobbies has to have a bag, people.

The merch? You have to visit the signup link to get the entire song, a digital collectible unto itself.

High-glycemic Collab: Oatly’s CEO singing a jingle is almost as bad for your ears as his oatm*lk is for your heart. The ultra-high-glycemic stunt was recycled from a lawsuit-inducing ad campaign in Sweden from SEVEN YEARS AGO. I’ve heard of the circular economy, but that’s just ridiculous. This, all in a clever ploy to then (checks notes) sell t-shirts? Is that right? Surprisingly both the milk and the shirt are stocked out at the time of this writing. 

New Luxury | Brands as Performance Art: Behold, the Birkinstock, born by the death of Birkin and forged upon the craftsman’s table into the sock-wearer’s Sandals of Theseus. MSCHF’s latest project explores the real value of luxury products by treating an Hermes’ Birkin bag as a material, rather than an end product.

Vending: “Finally, robotic beings rule the world.” DoorDash can deliver robot-made salads thanks to its acquisition of Chowbotics, a vending machine company. The machines are ‘mother’ now. The machines will nourish us.

Image credit: Same Energy site ( > Bizarre

Same Energy: A new moodboard generator (currently in beta) just launched that has all of the image recognition and curation of Pinterest, but less focused on tangible goods and more capable of visualization of bad acid trips. Created by Jacob Jackson of Tabnine (formerly of OpenAI).

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