On the eve of its 'Quadrophenia' tour, the Who upgrades its collectibles and other offerings.
BandMerch's new global merchandising deal with the Who demonstrates that the modern merch partnership can be multifaceted and extend for a long term.
BandMerch, a division of sports and entertainment firm Anschutz Entertainment Group and its live entertainment arm AEG Live, signed the Who as the band tees up its Quadrophenia tour this fall. (2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the landmark rock opera.)
The deal with BandMerch features the traditional "three legs of the merch stool" -- retail, e-commerce and touring -- but also ventures into concert revenue from fan site TheWho.com and ticketing options. BandMerch has already successfully orchestrated an online presale for tickets to the upcoming Quadrophenia shows.
Merch deals often run for two years, the length of a tour or album cycle, but "we all wanted a relationship that has the potential to last for a much longer term than the usual 24 months," industry veteran and BandMerch president Joseph Bongiovi says. "It's not just built around this Quadrophenia anniversary. It's the time needed to truly build a program based on their iconic status, not only in music, but in lifestyle, with a multigenerational platform."
BandMerch set out to build a specific presence for the Who at retail outlets as well as bolster the e-commerce presence with memorabilia, collectibles and VIP/bundling opportunities synergized with tour promoter AEG Live. The first leg of the tour begins Nov. 1 at BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Fla., and runs until Dec. 9 at the Mohegan Sun Resort & Casino in Uncasville, Conn., while a second leg begins Jan. 28, 2013, at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
At retail, BandMerch is conducting "an extensive development process with management to really hone in on what the brand vision should be," Bongiovi says. With the Who, and specifically Quadrophenia, that vision falls into two areas: fan appreciation, meaning what things fans would like to buy on the tour, and lifestyle, which Bongiovi describes as "more brand fashion sense."
"If you watch the film 'Quadrophenia' and look at the fashion that the mods and rocker characters are wearing, it's still relevant today," Bongiovi says. "So how do we take advantage of a lifestyle/fashion brand approach utilizing the popularity and iconic value of the Who? Forty years ago, the established fashion trends were introduced to the world through Quadrophenia."
BandMerch will also dig deep into the Who's archives to find images and memorabilia that will appeal to hardcore fans. "Part of that new look, or refreshing it, is really using imagery from the past that nobody's even seen, or that definitely has not been used on the merchandising side," Bongiovi says. "Believe it or not, there still isn't a great iconic shot of Pete Townshend doing the windmill that has been used significantly on anything."
BandMerch will also build a high-end collectibles side, especially for e-commerce. "I say to properties like the Who, 'Your garbage is our gold. Don't throw anything out,'" Bongiovi says. "Broken guitars that Pete smashed -- did he save them? If he did, we could put something really cool together, auction it off live on TheWho.com, and do it for charity if they want. I know Pete has saved a lot of stuff that no one's even seen."
Now that the presale has been executed online, BandMerch will begin "growing and strengthening the product line and the functionality of the site, whether it's the live chat or the tour blog," Bongiovi says. "We're really [building] the content to drive traffic and keep fans satisfied, creating promotions and marketing opportunities directly through e-commerce, and keeping things fresh and new. If you go to really robust e-commerce sites once a week, which most fans hopefully do, you shouldn't see the same thing twice, at least on the front page."
For the tour, BandMerch is developing a program, potentially USB-based, in which fans can buy high-quality audio recordings from the concert they just attended.
"I'm confident, but there are rights issues when it comes to that," Bongiovi says. "If we can get a really good price point, I'd love to be able to do that. Fans could go home, plug that USB in, have a code on it that takes you to a section of TheWho.com and you could download the concert you were just at."