Few t-shirt marketing campaigns have been quite as successful as the "I [heart] N Y" t-shirt. You see them everywhere -- on tourists, on celebrities, in the Big Apple, in California, and even in foreign countries. How did this shirt become a staple of cultural identity?
New York Spared No Expense
New York really pulled out all of the stops when they started their legendary marketing campaign back in the '70s. The New York State Department of Commerce hired Wells Rich Greene, an advertising agency, to spearhead the campaign. Milton Glaser, a graphic designer, came up with the iconic slogan. Unfortunately for Glaser, he didn't expect the project to go anywhere and worked pro bono. Image source: Bionicdisco.com
This success story shows that you get what you pay for. Hiring the right marketing professionals can be pricey, but they can help catapult your business into the national (and in this case, international) spotlight.
"I Love New York!"American composer Steve Karmen came up with the song "I Love New York" as part of the marketing campaign. The song officially became the state's national anthem three years later in 1980 and it has become just as iconic as the t-shirt. http://youtu.be/uO7s02PvG2U Clearly, the shirt and the song work together to create a strong pop culture identity. It might be a good idea to pursue multiple advertising mediums for your own marketing campaign. If you put a slogan on a line of clothing, be sure to repeat that slogan on videos, commercials, and social media announcements. Hopefully, your custom clothing and your social media campaign will build off of each other and hit viral status. Oh, and Sinatra helped 'em out, too. http://youtu.be/xMfz1jlyQrw
"Copy This Idea!"
Personally, I think that one of the reasons why the t-shirt became so successful is that it's so easy to replicate. People can copy the format with "I [heart] CA," I [heart] China," "I [heart] guns," or anything else for that matter. It kind of reminds me of the "Got milk?" campaign slogan, which also got picked up by special interest groups.