Marketing Gold: How 7-Eleven and Blenders Capitalized on Viral Football Moments
By: Quinn Kreller
Anyone who has tuned into a Bengals game in the last 3 seasons knows that Pro Bowl receiver Ja’Marr Chase wasn’t lying when he said, “I’m open. I’m always [expletive] open.” After a brutal 27-3 loss to the Tennessee Titans, that quote from his post-game interview went viral. The Bengals had gotten off to a disappointing 1-3 start following AFC Championship and Super Bowl appearances the past two seasons.
Unfortunately for those praying for the downfall of the AFC powerhouse, Ja’Marr backed his confident words up a week later against the Arizona Cardinals. Chase caught a franchise record 15 passes for 192 yards and three touchdowns in a 34-20 victory. After the game, Chase tweeted a picture of a 7-Eleven, which is famously “always open." 7-Eleven jumped to capitalize on the publicity, with Chase sporting a shiny chain with the store’s logo the following week against the Seahawks.
Two days after the photos of Chase’s new jewelry made its rounds on social media, 7-Eleven rolled out the Always Open x Ja’Marr Chase collection. The viral 7-Eleven chain Chase wore against Seattle sold out quickly despite its hefty $120 price tag. The partnership with Chase could not have come at a better time for 7-Eleven. Ja’Marr has returned to his regular record-breaking pace and the Bengals have seemingly righted the ship, going 4-0 since the loss to Tennessee that sparked Chase’s original comments.
7-Eleven got a further boost when Chase’s teammates Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd joined in, sporting 7-Eleven merch and t-shirts with pictures of Chase’s tweet in pregame warmups in Week 6. For 7-Eleven, the partnership with one of the best athletes in the most popular sport in the U.S. came to them on a silver platter. It started with a four-character tweet and has turned into an extremely successful merchandise collection and their brand name stamped on the Bengals' resurgence.
This isn’t the first time that a team has rallied around a product. In fact, it isn’t even the most notable time it has happened in the last two months. Ahead of Deion Sanders’ University of Colorado Buffs’ rivalry game against Colorado State, State’s head coach Jay Norvell took this shot at Sanders, “When I talk to grown-ups, I take my hat off and my glasses off”
Within 24 hours, Blenders, a sunglass company that had a partnership in the works with Sanders, dropped their Prime 21 sunglasses and gifted a pair to every one of Sanders’ players. Deion also publicly gifted a pair to Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Stephen A. Smith, among other celebrities. According to Blenders, their presales for the new line skyrocketed as fans scrambled to get their hands on a pair of the viral sunglasses.
Norvell stirring the pot leading up to the game brought even more attention to an already fiery rivalry, and the game lived up to the hype. This game had it all: a pregame scuffle, unsportsmanlike conduct penalties galore, viral polarizing calls, a 98-yard 2-minute drill to tie the game, and a double-OT victory led by Sanders’ sons on both sides of the ball. Surrounded by Buffaloes fans who had stormed the field, the Heisman hopeful, Shadeur Sanders, did his postgame interview while wearing- you guessed it, a hat and Prime 21 sunglasses.
These are two great examples of the unpredictability and spontaneity of sport which makes marketing in the space incredibly unique. A player could sign a deal and suffer a career-ending injury the next day or on the other hand, if you’re Blenders or 7-Eleven, the deal of a lifetime could drop into your lap organically and give you the opportunity to strike marketing gold.