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Glock Misfires With Lifestyle Apparel Line

Posted by Abe Sauer on March 20, 2012 11:55 AM

The initial response to firearm maker Glock's "Glock Perform" apparel collection suggests the brand extension is lacking… performance.

Last year, we looked at how the once-exotic and prohibitively expensive Austrian handgun became a household name just months before the release of the book, Glock: The Rise of America's Gun.

Now, to celebrate its 25th anniversary, the firearm-maker is letting brand fans show their pride through a line of Glock-branded clothing. By its own definition Glock Perform "supports your lifestyle" and provides "Confidence in any situation."

The Glock online store already offers a number of apparel choices, including sweatshirts, hats, jackets and t-shirts. But the Glock Perform line will "employ quality fabrics, updated fits and elevated designs." An early look at a few of the designs suggests Glock Perform will marry Under Armor-style sportswear and modern designs.

The full line will be available on April 12th. But for the last month Glock made six of the designs available online through an "exclusive pre-launch event." The five t-shirts and one hoodie featured Glock branding and, in two cases, modern Glock firearm designs.

Immediately, Glock's new brand extension faced two major problems. The first was pure execution. While the items themselves were not a bargain priced between $20 and $45, it was the shipping that got Glock consumers fired up.

On Glock's Facebook posts about the pre-sale, fans were shocked that FedEx Express was the only shipping option. This hiked the price of buying a $20 t-shirt with up to $14 in shipping charges.

When it comes to marketing, Glock has been tone deaf before. Last year, in the wake of the mass shooting in Arizona by Glock owner Jared Loughner at an event featuring now-former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, we looked at how Glock (and other firearm makers) were blind to the questionable image their brands were cultivating on social media like Facebook. But then, Glock exists in a "love it or hate it" industry where you can only please half the people at any time, so why not please the ones with all the guns?

Glock has a larger problem with its Glock Perform line. As one Glock page Facbook poster put it, "Rather not advertise my undergarment(s)."

This sentiment that wearing apparel that openly yelled "Glock" might spook some people and attract unwelcome attention was one widely shared by other firearm (and Glock) enthusiasts. The Serious Gun Blog balked at the idea of wearing the clothing, reasoning that "I like to blend in to the background." A Serious Gun Blog commenter concurred that "sometimes this apparel can garner unwanted attention from law enforcenment [sic]."

One law enforcement group that pays "unwanted attention" to such apparel designs is the TSA and airport security. Last year, a teenage girl was detained because her purse featured the logo of a six-shooter. A few years before that, another youth found himself the focus of flight authorities because his Transformers French Connection t-shirt featured a robot holding a gun.

Featuring detailed handgun designs, two of the pre-sale Glock Perform shirts would appear to maybe run afoul of TSA standards. Glock appears to have a disconnect between what's it's like in the vacuum of Glock HQ and the world in which actual Glock owners, especially those who conceal carry, live.

Impassioned firearm owners are often extremely brand loyal, so extending gun brands to full lifestyle lines makes a lot of sense from the brand's perspective. At the same time, gun ownership is unlike many other consumer activities; while Chrysler fans may be willing, even excited, about displaying their brand loyalty by wearing an "Imported from Detroit" t-shirt (the subject of a trademark dispute between a t-shirt brand and Chrysler, by the way) and advertising their consumption proclivities, firearm owners might not.

When it comes to fashion forward firearm brand extensions, Glock might look to Smith & Wesson. When that gunmaker recently extended its brand to higher-end apparel, it did so in a very suble fashion. For its jackets, the brand used an original vintage blueprint of a classic Smith & Wesson pistol design, but placed it only in the lining. Also, the jacket's zipper pull was made from the hammer of a classic S&W .45 caliber pistol.

An alternative idea comes from another commenter at the Serious Gun Blog: "I like the shirts at Endo that are REALLY subtle because only the REAL gunnies get them, and the guys who get them aren’t anybody you’re worried about." The "ENDO" (Everyday No Days Off) shirts the commenter referenced include a design incorporating the three settings of the AK-47 fire selector.

Not only do these more subtle accents attract less attention, they create more buzz between brand champions in the know.


Harry Falber United States says:

Dear Abe,

I run licensing for Smith & Wesson. I am fortunate to have a great licensing partner in Wild Things led by VP Merchandising, Kim Pingaro and CEO Ed Schmults - makers of our new sportswear line. But like every good marketing partnership it takes work on both sides. I am fortunate that I have the good fortune of being associated with a core portfolio of licensees that work closely with me in nurturing, protecting and growing the iconic Smith & Wesson brand and truly understand its value. It would be great to take a big bow, but I learned a long, long time ago ( I started at Scali ), most great clients are only as good as their agencies. On behalf of Kim, Ed and all my associates, thank you for your kind words.

Harry Falber

March 20, 2012 01:04 PM #

Ed Kriese United States says:

Agree that Smith & Wesson does a much better job and Mr. Falber & Co. are to be congradulated. Great guns too, I own two.

March 21, 2012 07:32 AM #

Thomas United States says:

Wow, talk about trying to shoehorn separate facts into an nonexistent story to make it into something it isn't.

Expensive shipping?  Absolutely.  But does this warrant an article?

you quote a single blog and a couple of posts to support your premise people don't like to advertise what they wear.  Hmmm....

Then you state Glock's have been "prohibitively expensive".  Really?  Do some research.  They are among the least expensive guns on the market.

Finally you state their marketing was 'tone deaf' after the Giffords shooting.  Maybe Bud should stop being 'tone deaf' and discontinue sponsoring car racing events due to drunk driving in this country.  Where is your article on that one?

March 21, 2012 10:19 AM #

A Sauer United States says:

Glocks were indeed "prohibitively expensive" at one time. Just as they were also once exotic. Remember the famous Die Hard 2 Glocks "costing more than you make in a month."

And that's actually an interesting idea for an article on why Bud does NOT get flack for such promotions.

March 22, 2012 03:42 PM #

mike United States says:

Hey, they gave it a shot.

March 21, 2012 05:27 PM #

Gary Ramey United States says:

Clearly the author is not a firearm owner....the GLOCK is NOT an expensive firearm.
It is an inexpensive design that does not even have a "safety" on it (safety is in the trigger....which is NOT a safety at all).
Why isn't GLOCK apparel working????
It's because the brand has no brand equity regarding standing for something.
Brands like Beretta carry a lifestyle panache to them while GLOCK is simply a small line of inexpensive pistols.
Why would anyone want to wear that brand?

Side comment.....the hero in "Die Hard" carried a Beretta...

March 24, 2012 03:04 PM #

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