“Hello and welcome to the 2016 NFL Draft.”
To the fandom that surrounds the NFL, there are few phrases that conjure more excitement. That phrase means fresh talent on their team’s roster, it means seeing the next Joe Montana before he becomes a superstar. But, for Franco client STAHLS’, it means making custom, national TV ready, NFL jerseys in minutes.
During the draft, teams select their new players one by one. As the newly drafted NFL player approaches the stage, the STAHLS’ team is working backstage to pull the correct jersey, correct player’s name in the proper font, press the name plate to adhere it on the jersey, and get it to the stage before the player is officially welcomed into the NFL, all in less than two minutes. Whew!
STAHLS’ has been part of this event for the past five years. When they began in 2012, they were not even sure if their products would make it to the stage. After doing countless tests preceding the 2012 Draft, STAHLS’ had to prove their abilities during the actual event.
As the first draft pick, Andrew Luck, was selected, STAHLS’ printed the jersey but making it to the stage was a game time decision. The jersey still had to get the final ‘OK’ from both the NFL and Nike, Inc. before the jersey was allowed to go the whole nine yards to the stage. The garment passed with flying colors and the rest is history.
From the moment they arrived in the city they could feel the excitement surrounding the festivities. Grant Park was completely transformed into ‘Draft Town.’ This included a fan viewing area, games, souvenirs, the NFL Shop and so much more.
But Kozak and Swoish had a game plan they needed to execute before reveling in the thrill of the day, so they got to work.
“As soon as we got the lay of the land we started talking to media on-site and making connections. It was a ‘Where’s Waldo’ hunt for the cameras,” Swoish said.
Our Franco quarterbacks had generated media hits leading up the event, and prescheduled a live hit with a local station for STAHLS’ during Draft weekend, but they knew that intercepting media to make those in person connections could further the STAHLS’ message.
“The next day we had Fox 32 Chicago come out and do live hits from the STAHLS’ area of Draft Town,” Swoish said. “Later in the day we had a reporter and photographer from the Chicago Tribune out to Draft Town and a phone interview with Printwear Magazine.”
Brent Kisha is the head coach for the STAHLS’ team and was the main interview subject for STAHLS’ throughout the event.
“It is great to see a message we helped to craft get picked up by so many media outlets. We just felt a huge sense of accomplishment.”
As draft time approached, Kozak and Swoish joined the huddle in Selection Square to watch the Draft live on the big screen.
“The energy was magnetic!” Swoish said. “We were right in the middle of the crowd. People who didn’t even know each other hugged and gave high fives when their team made a selection. I am not a die-hard football fan but you couldn’t help but get swept up in all the excitement.”
The two even purchased their own STAHLS’ custom made apparel before heading back to home turf.
And while the weekend was definitely full of fun, Swoish collected professional lessons that she will wear with pride.
“I experienced firsthand how important it is to make a local connection to any story when pitching the media,” Swoish said. “We received placements in key areas across the region because we were able to make a local tie. The Draft was an experience I never imagined having, but one I will definitely not forget.”