This Sunday, the Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks will square off in the NFC wild-card game that according to the weather, may be the coldest game in football history. Shirtless face painted bros aside, the less enthusiastic fans will be dressed in multi-layered clothing to keep from getting frost bite while the players will also have their cold weather gear. Nike, of course, has an exclusive partnership with the NFL the same way Gatorade is the hydration beverage of choice.
But when the sponsorship doesn't provide everything you need, you work around it. So what's making news this weekend isn't Nike's take-it-for granted sponsorship, but an underdog brand called WSI Sports. And while the iconic swoosh will be visible to all, WSI has a greater purpose: keeping the football players nargles from falling off. WSI Sports is supplying cold-weather gear including long-sleeve compression shirts, glove liners and socks to the players. No logos will be visible, but to WSI Sports founder, Joel Wiens it's still a huge break.
An article in USA Today Sports separated the brand from Nike as well as Under Armor, it's multibillion dollar rivals.
While Nike is known for sweatshop clothing, Wiens has always made everything in the U.S. “I wanted to keep the jobs here....we’ve done pretty well for ourselves utilizing our great technology. Money isn’t everything. I never wanted to be the biggest.” That's not a bad elevator pitch for the brand or the founder at all.
Though WSI Sports is 25-years old, I suspect its brand awareness is quite low outside of select audiences. Hopefully the earned media Wiens is getting this weekend will remedy that.