Decoration Lessons from Fanatics' Crooked Football Gear Problem
Fanatics is one of the biggest names in sports merchandising, buying up its competition, expanding into things like trading cards, and forging major deals with sports leagues in the U.S. and abroad.
But that doesn't make it immune to decoration mistakes.
Philadelphia Eagles fans sure were excited about the Kelly Green color scheme returning this season, and as soon as the merchandise like jerseys and T-shirts became available, fans flocked to Fanatics' website to buy it. However, in some instances, the stuff came with crooked numbers, off-centered names and numbers, and other printing errors that could have been (and should have been) easily avoided.
And in today's world where everyone is just a social media search away, Fanatics customers let the company know about their grievances.
One particular post got more than 3 million views on The Artist Formerly Known as Twitter.
Did anyone else’s Kelly green Eagles merch come in from the official NFL shop uhhhh crooked? pic.twitter.com/JRdoD4Bk9l
— Shealyn Kilroy (@shealynkilroy) September 14, 2023
The poster's boyfriend took it in stride, reportedly saying the he still plans to wear the shirt as a novelty (which he calls the Leaning Tower of Hurts," but that good natured humor doesn't absolve Fanatics of this issue — especially when she was not the only person to complain.
— Bryan (@BigSchu03) September 14, 2023
YES I WAS PISSED. pic.twitter.com/4gnv3792dN
— Andrizzy (10-1) 🦅 (@acumber99) September 14, 2023
I didnt fully inspect mine when I got it, and then I pulled it out to wear it yesterday and I looked at it and noticed the same damn thing! pic.twitter.com/bWN9ubWq3j
— Ryan (@ThatOhioKidRyan) September 15, 2023
That's a bad look for a company with as much clout as Fanatics. And owner Michael Rubin knows this. He took to Elon Musk's X to try to make things right, giving customers the chance to contact Fanatics Customer Service and receive a more aligned piece of merchandise.
If there’s one thing I've learned in business - own your mistakes.
Anytime we let any fan down, it’s a failure on our part and that’s on me.
Last year we sold nearly four million units of Eagles merchandise. That’s just Eagles products, which shows Philly fans truly are the… pic.twitter.com/Fegqd2bRJm
— Michael Rubin (@michaelrubin) September 19, 2023
And, ask any sports fan, if you're going to get a fandom's bad side, it's not the Eagles. But, it's not just some vendetta against the Birds. Other customers complained about Fanatics jerseys for teams like the Indianapolis Colts, or even the "GOAT" quarterback's Tampa Bay shirt.
Happened to my colts jersey, how do they not center a number on a $130 jersey? Definitely getting a refund smh pic.twitter.com/uisQfFtj0G
— Lil Uzi Squirt (@NitroScorpion) September 15, 2023
— Gunz (@TheGunzShow) September 15, 2023
This is a lesson for apparel decorators (or any printers) of any size: Do your quality control homework, or people will notice. They might not come back to you if it's bad enough. These are unforced printing errors that can be avoided by paying attention to detail and taking that extra second to make sure things are properly lined up and level.
If you do make a mistake like this, own up to it, make it right with the customer, and hopefully you won't have hoards of fans from different buying periods all coming at you at once saying, "Yeah, they messed up my product, too!"
Fanatics has that size and market dominance to survive a few mistakes. Not every company does, so it's crucial to get things right, or as close to right, the first time. These small mistakes can be huge in the big picture.