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.

George Phillips

22 Responses to “Missing Out On A Golden Opportunity”

  1. Unfortunately, there is no merch outside US. So, it doesn’t matter for me…

  2. This is just another reflection on current Indycar management.

  3. I had similar thoughts at the GP of Indy and the 500. I was SO HAPPY when I went to Milwaukee and was FINALLY able to buy a Verizon IndyCar Series hat.

  4. DZ-groundedeffects Says:

    Step 1. get marker/crayon/writing implement.
    Step 2. stand facing nearest wall.
    Step 3. use writing implement, draw circle on wall at head height.
    Step 4. put down writing implement.
    Step 5. smash head into circle on wall
    Step 6. if able, return to upright standing position facing wall.
    Step 7. repeat Steps 5-6 until Step 6 is no longer possible.

    • DZ-groundedeffects Says:

      In defense of said shop, I will say I just visited the store and it has a pretty decent selection of merchandise, just almost nothing with the Verizon ICS logo. I get it.

      Merch is tough though. Almost always a subjective and impulse buy, it takes a ton to get the right mix of items, styles, etc. that buyers want, not to mention about 20% of the mix becomes obsolete each year through team/driver changes.

      When merch is right, it’s great for everyone involved.
      When it’s not, it’s bad for everyone involved.

      It seems the offerings are better than in most of years past (although I loved the IZOD/Lids era – spent more by far than in most all other years combined).

      If there is product I like on the shelves (or webstore) I’ll buy. If not, I won’t simple as that. For your own health, do not follow my instructions above.

    • That is hilarious!

  5. Doug gardner Says:

    I believe the issue has something to do with the sponsorship of the Penske cars. Team Penske has plenty of Verizon logo items.

    • On further pondering the Verizon sponsorship of the Series as well as Verizon’s sponsorship of Team Penske….

      …. More Verizon visibility would not be a bad advertising ploy and may only serve to provide more visibility for Team Penske.

      Who brought Chevrolet engines to the Series?

      A potential Win – Win scenario for Team Penske.

  6. on the scale of things, seems like t-shirts and hats would be about the cheapest form of direct advertising there is. if I were Verizon you’d see merchandise everywhere, and cheap, and let people help do my advertising. I’ve been a Verizon person for 10 years and I’ve never seen an Indycar tie-in in any mailers, bills or in any Verizon office. I’d blame Verizon more than Indycar, but I blame them both for short-sightedness or lack of interest.

  7. It just gives the impression that the top brass is asleep at the wheel which unfortunately is the all to common perception for most of us fans of the upper management of IndyCar. Whats amazing is, there has got to be plenty of facilities that are ready to crank up the presses to make hats, shirts, patches ect here in the U.S maybe even in Indiana for that matter. I mean our economy sucks right now. Making hats might create some jobs! Imagine that idea? Again it shows the ridiculousness and the inept guidance at the top IMHO. If I were Verizon I would be pissed. They should have their name all over the place by now. If I were Verizon I would demand a lit sign hung on the outside grandstands if IMS. You can’t tell me a multi (probably billion) dollar company can’t get some hats and shirts out by now to the 30 IndyCar fans that are left.

    I am just venting my frustration being a long, long time IndyCar fan. I am often mind scrambled by the decisions that are made at the top. You know its bad when your average Joe like me is saying “what the hell are they doing up there?” But somehow I keep coming back for more. I guess I am one of those that fits into the definition of insanity.

  8. I suspect you are mostly preaching to the choir here. Have you tried printing this out and sending it to everyone in marketing at IndyCar?
    Also, ask Curt Cavin to respond at IndyStar. Sneak into the track and paint “Where are the damn Verizon shirts?” on the front straight.

    When did you get rid of your trailer?

  9. I suspect they printed up truck loads of the generic merchandise last winter anticipating that there would be no title sponsor. Then when Verizon came on-board they had a warehouse full of merchandise which was outdated which they wanted to try and sell before introducing new items. Hopefully when they order new items to reflect team/driver changes they also order some Verizon items.

  10. Verizon Logo merch is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS and YOU’LL GET NOTHING AND LIKE IT. No, seriously, I think it’s one of two things.: 1) incompetence/don’t care or way bigger fish to fry (distracted by other stuff), 2) They don’t think they can sell enough of the stuff to bother with it. I suspect it’s 2. I’m not trying to be a dick here, but if you don’t believe there’s a big enough market for a product, you don’t put the time and energy into making said product. So, maybe they took a look at the sales of IZOD IndyCar logo stuff and said, “not worth it” for Verizon versions of the same stuff. As much as you’d love to please the relatively small group of fans that want something, you don’t do it if it there’s no ROI in it. Now you could argue (strongly) that the ROI is spreading the brand. But given the relentless advertising Verizon does just in general, Verizon probably don’t see the value and IndyCar has $34 in the bank and I doubt they want to invest it in clothing. You could also argue the people who would like the Verizon branded stuff are still going to be fans if they don’t get it, soooooo … I’ll warn you now to NOT go to the NASCAR.com store. It will just depress you.

  11. I think you have missed the point – the series is not aimed at the fans, it is mostly B2B and going ever farther in that direction. So selling trinkets to fans is a pretty low priority.

    • Chris Lukens Says:

      I’m amazed no one has commented on this post. 25cabotst has identified the NUMBER ONE problem with IndyCar’s management team.

  12. Just put a Kyle Busch M&M’s hat on and look pouty. It works for him! I kid. I kid.

    I still have a Molson Indy hat from the 90’s that still gets a bit of wear.

    Seriously, the brass doesn’t know what it’s doing. Same as Brian France of NASCAR. His only luck is that he started with a lot more fans. Though, from the declining fan base, he’ll be in Indy territory soon enough.

  13. Sorry old people. If it doesn’t say Aeropostale young people won’t wear it. And Frankly I don’t want you crunchy old farts representing my brand. Please. Don’t wear anything with my brand on it.

    The staggering elephant in the room still relates to absence in the gaming sphere.

  14. There is a nice IndyCar polo on the IndyCar website and that suits me for now. Also, they 500 logo polos look great as do the Wing and Wheel logo on a nice Nike Dri-Fit. However, I was dissapointed that IMS didn’t have any high ball glasses this past year with the 2014 logo. I have made a nice collection from the past years and I like using them. I also would like to see the Wing and Wheel logo on a glass. One more. For several years IMS was making Holiday Season T-shirts and then they stopped. While everybody else were wearing their sweaters and shirts I was usually the only person wearing one. I enjoyed that because and I would like to see it again.
    By the way, let’s get back to the 1/18 cars.

  15. billytheskink Says:

    At both of the Texas races, the Indycar merchandise tent had long-sleeve t-shirts, caps, and stickers (and maybe some more things that I missed) with the Verizon Indycar Series logo. I would hope all of these things would be for sale on the website.
    In fact, the Verizon series logo sticker I bought at the Houston race this June just recently succumbed to the Texas heat and peeled itself right off the back window of my car. That was disappointing, as my white “IMS” circle logo sticker made it for 3 years.

    Ultimately, though, Indycar merchandise is limited and probably going to remain that way into the near future because it is not move in high volumes outside of the 500 (and much of that is event-specific merchandise). Check out the Lids website, they are still trying to clear out Indycar merchandise. Not just from 2013, either, you can still buy Graham Rahal-Ganassi crew shirts (among other things, like Jarret Andretti sprint car t-shirts) from them. It’s a tough market.
    While I’ve had my share of disappointments with Indycar merchandise in recent years (2012’s driver shirts, the sticker story above), I am thankful for much of what is offered considering the demand. I’ve been able to buy my favorite driver’s t-shirt every year since 2009, and have been pleased with the shirt in all but one of those years.

  16. I have an IndyCar hat that I love. The reason (despite the fact that it is not fitted) is because there is no tacky sponsor on it. It just says “IndyCar” with the black and red IndyCar silhouette logo. Stuff that says Verizon just doesn’t interest me.

  17. Contrary to my comment above, the truth is that I am not going to wear a cap with some phone company’s name on it. My hat rack includes one that simply says Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a Milwaukee Indyfest cap, John Deere, Winchester, Toledo Mud Hens (not from Toledo, just like the cap, Trout Unlimited, Lake Street Dive, a retro Champion Spark Plug cap which features a lovely young lady, and the classic Vince Lombardi Packer cap with the understated (“When you get to the end zone act like you’ve been there before”) GB initials.

    I would buy an Emma Dixon cap however. Maybe two.

  18. Years ago I quit wearing anything with a logo that wouldn’t get me paid. I haven’ been seen outside the house without my company’s logo on my clothes, phone, business portfolios or carrying bags in years.
    I was nice to see my company’s logo on the 98 last season, that was special.
    When I covered sports I was covered with Canon logos because Canon supported me in that business. I wasn’t an employee, but I was supported.
    I really follow IndyCar and enjoy watching the races, but that doesn’t pay my bills

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