NEW YORK Should you desire, the next big Britney story could become fodder for a T-shirt courtesy of CNN.
Visitors to CNN.com might notice an unfamiliar T-shirt logo next to headlines of stories that included video content. Clicking on the shirt icon leads to a CNN store, where users can have the headline emblazoned on a T-shirt with the tagline, “I just saw it on CNN.com,” and a time stamp of the story’s posting. CNN is selling the American Apparel shirts for $15.
The project arose from a brief to build awareness and drive traffic to the organization’s online video offerings and communicate that the site houses more than just news videos, said Andy Mitchell, vp, interactive marketing at CNN.
“Every marketer wants to figure out how to become the next viral phenomenon and have consumers engage in the brand on a different level,” he said.
CNN editors will choose which headlines are eligible for printing, avoiding those that deal with violent or sensitive topics. Consumers cannot have their own CNN headlines printed on T-shirts, although the application does allow users to create mock-ups of their own creations.
“The headlines are really fun or really interesting,” said Bruce Winterton, president of The Barbarian Group, the Boston digital shop that crafted the promotion. “The way to make it personal was to declare which headline you like. What better way to do that than through a T-shirt?”
With the T-shirt icon dotting the front page and news section pages, there’s no need for media buys, Winterton added.
Yesterday evening, visitors had the options of getting shirts with headlines like, “Waste food dished up to hungry diners,” and “Weird fish leave sea, spawn on beach.”
The T-shirt concept stems from CNN’s desire to leverage its power in the marketplace: 27 million monthly visitors to its homepage, according to NetView, a Nielsen Internet measurement service.
CNN is not the first marketer to turn to custom T-shirts for promotion. AT&T last November ran a campaign that invited users to create their own made-up place names, along the theme of its “Where you live” wireless campaign.
But will people want to spend $15 for T-shirts from CNN?
“This isn’t necessarily about selling T-shirts,” Mitchell said. “There are a lot of goals. If a by-product of it is selling T-shirts, great.”
The tool could become particularly popular, Winterton said, when a historic event happens, as a way to commemorate it.
“When something amazing happens, people save the newspaper,” he said. “We hope when events like that happen, people will save it on a T-shirt.”