Marshawn Lynch may get fined for wearing a “Beast Mode” hat this week. But it’s been a boon for a booming brand that Lynch wants to sell in department stores around the country.
Marshawn Lynch is one step ahead of everyone.
Lynch turned this week’s Super Bowl media circus into a national discussion about his defiance of the NFL’s stringent rules. As he protested his required media duties by repeatedly saying “I’m just here so I don’t get fined,” Lynch was setting himself up for a possible league fine because he was wearing an unapproved hat.
Well, that hat featuring his “Beast Mode” design — available for $33 — is now sold out on Lynch’s website. Meanwhile, the running back has taken the unusual step of establishing a pop-up store near the Super Bowl stadium to sell an entire product line featuring his logo.
It’s a design that Lynch filed to trademark just two weeks ago.
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While he operates with a reclusive public persona, Lynch is among the NFL’s savviest of players when it comes to branding and trademarks. He first filed to trademark the name “Beast Mode” at the end of his rookie season in 2008, long before his famous “Beast Quake” run in the 2011 playoffs. He now owns four trademarks related to the name and is seeking more.
Christopher Bevans, a designer who has been working with Lynch to develop the Beast Mode brand over the past eight months, said the two talk daily about products, fabrications, designs and how to commercialize the whole line. They have plans to build a brand that will stand on its own, sold in department stores and other retailers around the country.
Bevans said Friday that he and Lynch didn’t discuss the prospect that the NFL would fine Lynch for wearing his hat this week. Bevans also said they don’t really care about that issue because “the NFL is going to do what the NFL is going to do.” He said Lynch simply wanted to wear the hat — it’s his style, after all.
Bevans also scoffed at some of the criticism Lynch has faced for his approach to the NFL’s required media sessions.
“He knows exactly what he’s doing,” Bevans said. “It’s well thought out.”
So far, Lynch has garnered some $2.9 million worth of advertising exposure for his brand this week, aided by the attention he got by not speaking openly at his media sessions, said Eric Smallwood, senior vice president of sports firm Front Row Marketing Services. That financial estimate is based on Front Row’s analysis of his national exposure, including on television, through social media and in newspapers.
Smallwood noted that when Lynch appeared with late-night host Conan O’Brien on Thursday, Lynch was wearing a Beast Mode sweatshirt and hat. He also wore his personalized Monster headphones and introduced Skittles into the segment — both products that Lynch is paid to endorse.
While the NFL is reportedly considering fining Lynch for wearing his apparel during his required media appearances, Smallwood said a fine would likely benefit Lynch even more.
“A fine that comes down will bring even more exposure,” Smallwood said.
The Seattle Times reported recently that the Seahawks organization has aggressively worked to control trademarks, including the number 12, the word “boom” and the phrase “Go Hawks.” Players, meanwhile, have sought trademarks of their own: Russell Wilson is trying to trademark “No Time 2 Sleep” and other phrases, while Kam Chancellor is looking to trademark the nickname “Bam Bam Kam.”
In 2013, Lynch started filing trademark requests for a “B” design composed of two triangles. He filed his new trademark request for a modified version on Jan 16. The trademark request is for a variety of products, from headphones, clothes, watches, gloves, sports drinks and candy.
Before last year’s Super Bowl, Lynch summarized his reluctance to do interviews by telling Deion Sanders: “I’m just about that action, boss.” Later that year, he filed to trademark the phrase “About That Action Boss” and is now selling apparel featuring the words.
This year’s popular comment was “I’m just here so I don’t get fined.”
Lynch hasn’t trademarked that line. Yet.