Missing Out On A Golden Opportunity
The term beating a dead horse, is synonymous with continuing to harp on something and getting no results. A popular definition of insanity is to continue doing things the same way, yet expecting different results. These terms would both apply when going to the shop tab of the IndyCar.com website.
I say all of this because after all this time and fans griping, you would think you would see more up-to-date merchandise available with the Verizon IndyCar Series logo. To date, there is a long-sleeve tee-shirt that has been available for a while and the newest addition that is quite welcome – an assortment of Verizon IndyCar Series baseball caps.
Fortunately, they have included one of my favorite items – Verizon IndyCar Series patches. I really appreciate the fact that IMS and IndyCar have made logo patches available for years. Since I don’t wear polyester dri-fit polos, it gives me the option to wear 100% cotton polos that are much cheaper and actually better looking (I think) than what is available in the IMS gift shop. For $8 I can buy a patch and go buy a cotton polo for $16 at Sam’s or Target. Of course, I also have a nice wife that will sew the patch to reinforce the iron-on. Deciding whether to invest a total of $24 for all-cotton or $65 for a dri-fit that breathes about as well as a laundry bag, is a no-brainer; but I digress.
Verizon was not named as title sponsor for the series until early to mid-March; just a couple of weeks prior to the green flag dropping on the season. No one expected any Verizon merchandise to be available by the first race. From what I understand, the IndyCar staff received their official shirts in overnight packages at St. Petersburg on race weekend.
By the time I attended my first race of the season at Barber Motorsports Park almost a month later, I was hopeful there might be something in the gift shops with the Verizon logo – but I wasn’t surprised or even disappointed when there was nothing there. I knew these things take time, especially since most of the merchandise is made in China. I also know there were some licensing approvals for the lawyers to sort through. I figured their goal was to have everything ready by the month of May.
That was my first real disappointment. At the Grand Prix weekend – there was nothing with the Verizon logo. OK, surely they’ll have something by qualifying weekend. By Sunday of qualifying weekend, one store had white tank tops with the Verizon logo. Since I don’t live in a trailer, nor beat my wife – I decided to pass. Race weekend had no other offerings. A golden opportunity to promote the series through merchandising had come and gone.
Throughout the summer, I kept an eye on the IndyCar website to see what would be added. There was never much to report. This Saturday marks the beginning of November. The Verizon partnership was announced almost nine months ago, and you knew that the powers-that-be knew about it before the announcement. Just how long does it take to get something from concept to consumers?
I realize it takes longer than one would initially expect, but does it really take this long? I know that when IZOD came on board, they had a huge assortment on the shelves by May. But to be fair – they are an apparel company, so they were already geared up to get stuff out fast. Verizon and IndyCar are not in the apparel business, so some delay should be expected – but nine months?
There is also more than apparel involved here. Personally, I would love a Verizon IndyCar Series coffee mug to have at work. I’ve had the same IMS wing & wheel mug for the last three years. Even I like a change every now and then. I’d like to have little artifacts; like drink huggers, pens, rear-window stickers, magnets, etc. that have the Verizon IndyCar logo. Currently, if you want any of those items; you have to get them with the generic INDYCAR logo that I find dated, clunky and unimaginative.
Christmas is less than two months away. Surely they are not going to miss out on another golden opportunity to promote the series and the brand…are they? I know several people who have been patiently waiting for the chance to buy Verizon IndyCar Series polos, tee-shirts, sweat shirts, etc.; but have so far been able to buy nothing. Instead, fans have to continue wearing IZOD-related apparel that became obsolete over a year ago. Caps are finally available and that’s a nice start – but those should have been out by July. Will there be anything available in the next few weeks that will excite IndyCar fans to find under the tree this Christmas?
With a pending schedule announcement on Thursday, aerokits and sagging TV and attendance numbers – merchandising is probably not the highest item on the “to-do” list for Mark Miles. That’s why he has hired the top-level subordinates he has put in place. Miles has been on the job for almost two years now, while his chosen team has been around for almost one. The lack of Verizon related items on the IndyCar website just adds to the perception that not a whole lot is being done behind closed doors at IndyCar headquarters. I keep begging to be proved wrong.