2PM - No. 730: A DTC Brand Takes Over

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Welcome to No. 730. The most read stories from Friday's member brief: Morning Brew on Tiffany is a great read (Morning Brew). And a whopping 24.1% read our latest member practical (2PM). 

I hope that you liked this edition, each one takes a substantial effort. Add the executive membership to your short list of premium newsletters. Thank you to all who already have us on that list. 

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NOBULL Takes Over / Footwear News: The most impactful move under Roza’s watch came in March when the company announced NOBULL as the CrossFit Games title sponsor, as well as its official footwear and apparel sponsor. NOBULL replaces longtime partner Reebok, which revealed in June 2020 that it was ending its relationship with CrossFit amid the Glassman controversy.

Short Analysis: Direct-to-consumer startups are designed to be disruptive by nature. Their purpose is to see the opportunities that larger corporations have gotten too big to identify themselves, improving on process and product in doing so. At CrossFit, the changeover in sponsor is giving a DTC challenger the chance to go toe-to-toe where an incumbent left shoes to fill. CrossFit CEO Eric Roza sought out NOBULL to take over as Crossfit’s main sponsor, letting Reebok’s time lapse. The brand pulled out following the former CEO’s remarks.

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Roza had a choice to make. As he recently told Footwear News, he could have given the company more time to recover before seeing who else he might have to choose from on the market. But he was a NOBULL fan, in large part due to the brand’s DTC spirit. He said in the interview:

I love their nimbleness and that I had a friendship with the founders, not just a business relationship. When I met them, I had an interest in investing in them, so they knew I was a bit of a fanboy. I loved that they were a direct-to-consumer play, they were e-commerce forward. The fact that they were digitally-native, really good at direct marketing and native to CrossFit with styling I really liked, made it the right decision for us.

NOBULL’s nimbleness, digitally-native and eCommerce forward traits made it the most attractive partner to CrossFit, proving that DTC challengers have real potential in shaking up the markets they’re in. That’s especially true when it comes to partnerships with brands who are looking to borrow some of that DTC spirit.

Reebok is making its own moves. The brand last week launched a Bonus Program that offers prize money to athletes who take first or second place in a CrossFit event wearing a Reebok shoe – directly incentivizing athletes to disregard the new sponsor’s shoes with a financial bonus. According to Reebok, nearly 200 athletes have taken them up on the challenge. NOBULL, in response, reminded Reebok who had the title sponsor spot. CMO Todd Meleney told Morning Chalk Up, “Since the beginning we’ve been in favor of anything that supports the athletes and the CrossFit community. As the title sponsor of the CrossFit Games, that’s the case now more than ever.”

In all, this is as much a story about Reebok's failure (the company is looking for a buyer) as it is NOBULLs rise as an enterprise-level brand. Click on the above graph to read Retail Dive's narration of Reebok's rise and fall. Reebok's sales fell to a 15 year low, meanwhile Nike and Puma (who suffered similar pandemic struggles) only fell to three and five year lows respectively. Meanwhile, at No. 109, 2PM estimates NOBULL's revenue to be well into the nine figures just seven years into their life cycle. 

Hilary Milnes and Web Smith, 2PM

Unbundling, remixing, and reintegrating media

The Creator Economy / Trends: To be successful in this new world, IP holders will adjust and focus less on control and more on managing chaos, on being able to take all of this creativity and move it towards something; the systems and skills to listen, integrate, celebrate and put periphery into the center. As remixing becomes increasingly accepted and encouraged as an art form, and product strategies congregate around platforms built for its reintegration, the decision to open up IP for remixing will have to be embraced, or it will be imposed by audiences. The same way it always has been.

Relevant: 👇🏽

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There’s a new way to view a brand’s investment in media operations. Every brand should have a digital supply chain or a set of components that, when properly constructed, equip a retail business with an important class of end products: content, first-party data, digital products, and community. [...] At the core of this supply chain is the in-house media company. Every brand needs to own one, whether through build or acquisition.

A New Practical

LVMH's Tiffany campaign sparks backlash

Brands / Marketing Brew: Jordan also pointed to Tiffany’s newest competitors for Gen Z attention: direct to consumer brands (DTCs). He said DTCs with no physical footprint showing up in Gen Z Instagram feeds are finding success with the age group “at the expense of legacy brands that are unwilling to change. For Tiffany to compete with these DTC brands, they had to shift their approach,” he continued.

How to stage immersive experiences in physical stores

Modern Retail / Business of Fashion: During this month’s BoF Professional Summit “What’s a Store For?” Krishna Nikhil, chief merchandising officer & chief marketing officer of Ssense, and Web Smith, founder of 2PM, unpacked the different ways brands are transforming their stores to be more than just a place to conduct transactions. That means thinking about a physical retail space as a means to provide experiences and entertainment that are relevant to their audiences and continue to prioritise service.

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Updated July 26: Shein remains No. 1 for the second week in a row. Hims, Maisonette, Bloomscape, Blume, and Helix Sleep each made enormous WoW leaps. Black Rifle Coffee Company, Peloton, and Draper James continued their relative slides in growth. Additionally, I've added contacts for many of the brands to assist with B2B business development. 

Mark Zuckerberg is betting Facebook's future on the metaverse

Metaverse / The Verge: Zuckerberg’s announced intention to build a more maximalist version of Facebook, spanning social presence, office work, and entertainment, comes at a time when the US government is attempting to break his current company up.

By 2PM: I am no Matthew Ball but read The Study's breakdown of metaverse (and Web3). The recently updated line up and summaries were a product of Grace Clarke. 

Medical-wear is the hot new DTC fascination

DTC Brands / Modern Retail: Employment in healthcare-related jobs is projected to grow 15% from 2019 to 2029 — about 2.4 million new jobs — according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, highlighting the market’s potential. These factors have prompted newcomers, like Clove and Moxie, to cater to more niche customer needs within the healthcare industry.

By 2PM: Read Figs Resuscitates the DTC Strategy 

The book that explains Bitcoin’s religious schism

Sociology / Bloomberg: Bitcoin shares many characteristics with religions. One such similarity is the existence of schisms — where two factions emerge with incompatible ideas about what Bitcoin is or should be for, and both claiming to represent the project’s true purpose, with sustained battling before they ultimately split.

Laying claim to dance isn't as straightforward for TikTok creators

Creator Economy / Quartz: In reality, it is often difficult to know who made it first and what constitutes fair use. When does doing some dance steps turn them into a new dance piece? Furthermore, discovering the original author or authors of a dance isn’t easy. That’s because unlike posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, TikTok posts aren’t time-stamped. 

Lil Nas X, Nike and the strategy behind 'Industry Baby'

New Media / AdWeek: For Lil Nas X, the headline-generating legal kerfuffle with Nike — combined with right-wing backlash against the homoeroticism and religious themes of his March video for “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” — made for fertile ground in which to grow the marketing strategy for his next single, “Industry Baby.”

Editor's Note: It's wild, MSCHF started all of this. 

Amazon reportedly has a 'key' to thousands of apartment buildings in US

Last Mile Logistics / The Verge: Amazon’s Key for Business, a system that allows its delivery drivers to gain access to apartment buildings without having to be buzzed in, has been installed in thousands of buildings across the US, according to the Associated Press. The company is reportedly pushing to get the system installed in more buildings, using a combination of free installations and $100 gift cards as incentives.

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Co-working spaces are back (NYT). Hunter Walk wants you to stop talking oversubscribed rounds (Medium). Immersive experiences in physical stores (BoF). Forbes launches a store (2PM). And hard seltzer hits a wall (Axios). 

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Few could have predicted what has happened since 2008. Brands like Aimé Leon Dore, Noah, KITH, Telfar, Todd Snyder (owned by American Eagle), and Rowing Blazers have each contributed to a rewriting of what it means to be preppy. In ways – each their own – the brands acknowledged what Ralph Lauren didn’t during its most pivotal growth stage.

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