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Purple pros: Ravens, Jos. A. Bank team up

Mark Miller//Daily Record Business Writer//October 12, 2011

Purple pros: Ravens, Jos. A. Bank team up

By Mark Miller

//Daily Record Business Writer

//October 12, 2011

Power ties are red. Dress shirts are white. Suits are black or blue or grey.

So what’s a corporate executive to do on Purple Fridays?

The Baltimore Ravens and Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. have teamed up to help, signing a deal that will have the Hampstead-based firm feature purple business wear marketed as a way for Ravens fans to celebrate Fridays before their team’s regular-season games.

The partnership stemmed from an interest in filling a niche for men in the office on the last day of the work week, said Edward A. Burchell Jr., vice president of regional partnerships and sales for the Ravens.

“People know where to get jerseys … but where do you go to get men’s corporate apparel?” Burchell said.

Enter Jos. A. Bank, which company Vice President of Corporate Sales Nick J. Rizzi said had a longstanding relationship with the Ravens that did not include marketing or cross-promotion but saw the company supply clothing to Ravens staff in exchange for signage at M&T Bank Stadium.

“We pulled this together pretty quickly at the 11th hour this year,” Rizzi said, noting that the deal was signed just before the team’s first game of the season. Clothing sold as part of the promotion includes purple shirts in various shades and color schemes that existed in Jos. A. Bank’s inventory prior to the agreement, he said.

Rizzi estimated that just under half of the merchandise laid out on Purple Fridays displays in the 10 Jos. A. Bank stores that are participating is neckwear introduced for the promotion with Ravens colors, though none is branded with the team’s logo.

“Purple is currently one of the hottest fashion colors … it’s a very popular color nationally, not just here, but nationally,” Rizzi said. “If we see good results and we reload for next year, I think we’ll have more time to develop products specifically colored to the Ravens’ color tone.”

Pat Donoho, president of the Maryland Retailers Association, said the deal could be useful both in helping Jos. A. Bank, which is not a member of his organization, sell many of its purple clothing items and develop new merchandise specific to the Ravens to be sold as well.

“There are tremendous promotional opportunities on both sides,” said Donoho.

“You could do everything from going to Ravens events and seeing Jos. A. Bank product, to placement in the stadium,” as well as Jos. A. Bank holding “Ravens Day” sales events and hosting Ravens players in its stores.

As the deal stands, the Ravens are giving Jos. A. Bank radio and television spots in the Baltimore media market. This advertising includes radio commercials during game day coverage, as well as one spot apiece on sports programs including “1 Winning Drive,” “Ravens One on One” and “Ravens Game Plan.” Jos. A. Bank also has banner ads displayed on the Ravens website as part of the arrangement.

“We believe Jos. A. Bank is the leader and the expert in men’s corporate wear in this marketplace,” Burchell said. “We’re trying to drive our fans … to make it a destination for corporate Purple Friday men’s apparel.”

Since purple attire sold relatively poorly last year in the Baltimore market, according to Rizzi, the company hopes the Purple Fridays promotion boosts sales. Though he declined to specify sales figures, Rizzi said that to measure the success of the promotion, his company would compare sales of purple merchandise in its 10 participating stores, including one in York, Pa., from the corresponding period in 2010 to the fall of 2011.

“We’re going to look at the product we’ve sold in those 10 stores that is dedicated to our purple assortment, and of course we have to weigh that against our investment and determine if it’s a success or not,” Rizzi said.

Although the partnership is just over a month old and was only set to last for the 17 weeks of the NFL’s regular season, with an option to continue into the postseason if the Ravens make the NFL playoffs, Burchell and Rizzi expressed optimism that it will be renewed.

“We’re looking to build a long-standing relationship with them … [and] build on our existing relationship,” said Burchell, adding that the Ravens and Jos. A. Bank have plans to partner with Baltimore charity Helping Up Mission next month to provide lightly used business attire to Baltimoreans who cannot afford it.

Burchell and Rizzi said they are unaware of any sports franchise and formalwear store to have such a partnership elsewhere in the country.

“I think we set the standard, or we’re starting the standard,” Burchell said.

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