DTC Men’s Apparel Brand Mack Weldon Airs Television Ads for the First Time

A drop in demand for TV advertising has made the channel more affordable

Mack Weldon
DTC brand Mack Weldon is airing television spots for the first time. Mack Weldon
Headshot of Richard Collings

Mack Weldon, the direct-to-consumer men’s apparel brand, is now airing television ads for the first time in the company’s nearly 10-year history, said its CEO Brian Berger.

The brand’s ads began airing during the first week of June on a number of channels and platforms including Bloomberg, CNBC, Discovery, Viacom and Hulu.

It’s an unexpected move from the digital retailer: During the pandemic, most DTC businesses have been emphasizing digital outreach. But Berger said that with 80% of its marketing budget—which is spent on digital channels such as Facebook and Google—performing efficiently, the company can be more experimental with the remaining portion of its spend.

“If we were not facing [an] environment of efficiency, and seeing increased demand, then our playbook would have been to pull back on ad spending,” Berger said.

Mack Weldon decided to test linear television outlets such as ESPN and OTT or streaming platforms such as Hulu “given that costs have gone down in that world,” Berger said.

There were a few factors behind Mack Weldon’s decision to explore the world of television. “One, the ability of our marketing and creative team to effectively repurpose the existing video content we have into awesome brand presence and engaging video ads,” Berger said.

That existing content is comprised of customer testimonials that were then stitched together with voice-over and animation to create the spots. Berger added that it was important to approach its advertising with a certain amount of humility. Letting others speak on the brand’s behalf created a tone appropriate during a time fraught with headlines tied to Covid-19, unemployment and race relations.

Mack Weldon

The second factor was the benefit of pricing, Berger said. He pointed out that with an estimated 20% to 30% of demand for television advertising disappearing back when the brand made the decision, spots were more affordable than ever. He declined to say how much the brand is currently spending on television advertising.

Mack Weldon had planned to tap video advertising more extensively in 2019, but the expense and inefficiency of placing ads on television proved to be too great a risk for the company. However, the efficiency generated by Mack Weldon’s overall marketing spend gave the company permission to test it, said Berger.

The brand’s ability to buy linear television on a remnant or spot basis, negating the need to make long-term commitments, also played a role in the decision, he said.

While it’s too soon for the apparel brand to definitively state how successful its foray into television has been thus far, Berger said he is optimistic it will become a meaningful part of its mix. He explained there’s an aspect of frequency in television advertising that drives success.

“You can’t just show up one day and understand how it’s going,” Berger said. “We experimented with video in the past and worked with outside agencies, but you have to do something that creates a call to action.”

Even though the aim is to get the consumer to visit the website and then to ultimately purchase a product, the brand still needs to resonate. In Berger’s own words, Mack Weldon is “not selling glue,” it’s selling an image.

In terms of the process of actually buying air time, Berger said the challenges are pricing and transparency in the relationship-driven traditional media space. But he added that media-buying technology has changed this a bit in the current landscape.

Mack Weldon is now able to acquire spots for which the pricing is auction-based. To help obtain that air time, Mack Weldon partners with Tatari.tv, which is a partner of many DTC businesses, helping them buy, measure the effectiveness of and scale television campaigns.

“It’s pretty incredible that you can buy the way we do,” he said.

@RichCollings richard.collings@adweek.com Richard Collings is a retail reporter at Adweek.