Custom Clothing Success Story: I Heart New York

I Heart New York Image source:

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.   I Love New York Logo Image source:

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.   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.  

"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.  

I Heart China Shirts Image source:

More than a Shirt

The slogan easily translates into other mediums, so you can have "I [heart] N Y" buttons, handbags, bumper stickers, posters, custom hats, magnets, and on a million other different products. The slogan is absurdly versatile, so much so that people can use it whenever they want, however they want. It's really no wonder that this slogan provoked a marketing boom.   Banksy I Heart New York Art Image source:   

Elegant in its Simplicity

All viral campaigns have a hook -- that is, something that sets them apart and captures our imagination. For this slogan, it's all about elegant simplicity. It takes what may very well be the most famous city on planet Earth, with its incredible architecture, history, Broadway plays, and businesses, and it condenses that down into four symbols. You've got everything from the Statue of Liberty to King Kong climbing the Empire State Building tightly packed into that tiny slogan. It uses simple type, huge letters, iconic symbols, and bright colors. Truly, this logo was an absolute stroke of genius.
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