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New Swag Collection Celebrates 25th Anniversary of Hocus Pocus

In a Nutshell
  • • Hocus Pocus is a family-friendly Halloween movie that has become a cult classic.
  • • Released by Disney, the merch collection gives fans a fun way to take new joy in the flick.
This merch will cast a spell on you. And it comes just in time for those summer-heat-weary folks (me) starting to crave cozy sweaters, carved pumpkins, and a little cool-weather autumn fun.

The branded merchandise in question is a new collection of promotional products from Disney celebrating the 25th anniversary of Hocus Pocus, a family-friendly Halloween flick. While the movie wasn't a box office hit when released in 1993, it has grown in stature over the years. Indeed, it's now widely watched during the fall in the lead-up to the annual Trick-or-Treat day. Tapping into the movie's latter-day popularity and the current pop penchant for all things 90s', Disney released the Hocus Pocus collection, which includes a journal, spirit jersey for women, T-Shirts, pin set, coffee mug, faux leather bag and more. Here's a look at the merch!


The Sanderson Sisters! Female fans of Hocus Pocus are going to dig this T-Shirt depicting the movie's entertaining antagonists – the witch sisters Winifred, Sarah and Mary. Image from ShopDisney.


This spookily attractive journal references the version of "I Put a Spell On You" that actress Bette Midler leads the singing of in her role as Winifred in a popular scene in Hocus Pocus. Image from ShopDisney.




The Hocus Pocus Spirit Jersey for women references the black candle that plays an important part in the film. "Hocus Pocus" is printed across the shoulders on the back. Image from ShopDisney.


You can start each morning with a little magic with this Hocus Pocus coffee mug. Image from ShopDisney.


The Hocus Pocus Faux Leather Bag is by Loungefly. Image from ShopDisney.


While much of the 25th anniversary merch is aimed at women, male fans weren't left out. This tee helps them express their Hocus Pocus fandom. Image from ShopDisney.


The official pin set. Image from ShopDisney.

Lastly, kudos of The Walt Disney Archives for preserving the below. The costumes are not part of the swag collection, of course, but they're a neat bit of pop culture history that just might put a smile on your face.

Child Prodigy Inspires T-Shirt Brand

From the tip of Walter Champion IV's pencil a hippo roars to vibrant life.

Walter Champion IV takes time to hand-sign cards that are sent out with each T-shirt order.

The quick strokes and strategic scribbles combine to form a drawing that's deft and detailed – an image that exudes the energy of the alpha animal it represents. The artwork becomes that much more impressive when you realize Walter was four when he drew it. Even more impressive still when you learn the hippo penciling was the inspiration for a T-Shirt brand that has Walter, now 6, installed as creative director.

Juvenile Virtuoso, as the nascent line is called, features Walter's hippo drawing on several styles of T-shirts. It's just the beginning of a tee collection Walter's parents say is aimed at revealing the hidden talents of child artists and supporting a worthy cause. The brand is also a testament to the power of imprinted T-shirts to convey powerful messages with layers of meanings.

"T-shirts are experiencing a renaissance," says Walter's mom Adepeju Champion, who started Juvenile Virtuoso in March with her husband, company president Walter III. "People are using them to display thoughts and feelings and affiliations with different ideas. We wanted to highlight the really beautiful things kids are capable of."

To that end, Juvenile Virtuoso expects to hold three or four new T-shirt releases annually. Child artists will create the graphics. Walter IV will play a lead role in selecting which designs make it onto T-shirts, and occasionally contribute additional designs of his own. A portion of sales will benefit Arts For Healing, a nonprofit organization that provides art therapies for individuals with disabilities. Children affiliated with Arts For Healing will be among the contributing artists. The next release is scheduled for August.

"We want to use T-shirts to do something bigger than just make money," says Walter III, who, like his wife, is a physician. "The whole concept is to encourage kids to pursue art, to show why that's important and what they can do with their abilities. Also, we have a child (Walter's brother William) on the autism spectrum, and we're passionate about supporting a charity like Arts For Healing."

For Walter IV, it's a thrill to see his art on T-shirts, and to view pictures of people wearing his tees on Instagram and Facebook. "He's just amazed that people like what he does," says Walter III. So much so, in fact, that Walter IV takes time to hand-sign cards that are sent out with each T-shirt order in a high-end gift box that also includes Juvenile Virtuoso merch, such as a branded pencil.

"Drawing is something he's used since preschool to calm down his nervous energy," says Adepeju. "All the positive reaction he's received has been a real confidence-builder." Walter IV draws every day at a table in the family home. Animals are his favorite subjects. "Drawing makes me happy," he says.

For now, Juvenile Virtuoso is in the startup stages. Nonetheless, the venture has garnered growing media attention, and Walter III said it's possible that partnerships with retailers and larger-scale production could be pursued. Whether or not that happens, though, the Champions will be happy if Juvenile Virtuoso does some good and inspires children – including their son – to use the potential they possess.

"My favorite part is seeing what our son is going to do next," says Walter III. "I just want to be part of his vision."

Photos
The young artist creates designs like these every day.

Shakira Removes Necklace Resembling Nazi Symbol From Merch Collection

In a Nutshell

*Shakira and Live Nation, the company that reportedly designed the controversial necklace, stopped selling the $9.95 piece in the wake of criticism.

*Live Nations said the symbol was based on pre-Colombian imagery and carried no racist intent.

Branded merchandise from pop star Shakira was at the center of controversy because of its use of a symbol that some criticized for bearing a striking resemblance to imagery used by Nazi Germany.

Neither Shakira nor the design's creators intended a connection to the Third Reich or modern day Neo-Nazis. Still, a necklace the singer was offering as part of the merch collection in support of her current Road to El Dorado Tour featured a design similar to a black sun, or sonnenrad. Ancient cultures had used the sunwheel image, but the Nazis appropriated it, inserting a swastika into the inner circle. As German publication Bento pointed out, the mosaic symbol appeared at the Wewelsburg Castle in Germany that later became a home base for Nazi leader Heinrich Himmler and his infamous Schutzstaffel. Twitter users latched onto the connection, and there was public outcry.

Some thought the criticism was overblown.

Live Nation, the events company that reportedly designed the necklace, apologized in tweets.

The necklace had been selling for $9.95, but is no longer available. For promotional products pros, perhaps the lesson here is: Make sure you and your clients fully understand the layers of meaning attached to the graphics, symbols, and logos you put out into the marketplace.

New Service Lets YouTubers Sell Swag From Video Pages

In a Nutshell
  • • The new merch service displays branded products in a shelf below videos –fans click on items to purchase.
  • • Teespring and YouTube get a cut of the sales.

YouTube just took a big step into the promotional products industry – and boosted a competitor to traditional distributors in so doing.

The San Bruno, CA-based company announced last week that creators with more than 10,000 fans can sell branded merchandise directly through their channel on the popular video sharing website. Teespring, a web-based custom merchandise platform, will provide the fulfillment. Creators will be able to offer more than 20 merch items with their custom branding, including T-shirts, phone cases and hats.

As part of the service, branded items will appear in a shelf below participating creators' videos. To buy, a fan simply clicks on a product image in the shelf and is re-directed to Teespring, where they purchase the item. A number of media outlets reported that some YouTube creators already had success with the new swag service during beta testing. The creator of Lucas the Spider, for example, made more than $1 million in profit in about three weeks after selling a plush version of Lucas through the YouTube/Teespring service.

According to Teespring, YouTubers that sold through the merch shelf during beta testing experienced an 82% success rate. In fact, Teespring said conversions from views to sales tested at 2-½ times higher than with the typical YouTuber process for pitching merch on the platform, which essentially involves providing links to online destinations where creators' swag can be bought. Bottom line: It all translated into 25% more units sold per participating user in the limited beta group, data showed.

Given such numbers, it's not a surprise that other YouTubers were keen to get in on the action after YouTube moved to full rollout late last week.

Still, there was some backlash against YouTube's decision to partner with Teespring, which has been at the center of controversy for failing to detect that independent creators were selling everything from swastika/Nazi gear to pro Dylann Roof T-shirts on its platform.

Meanwhile, some critics noted that certain YouTubers already have merch partnerships with other companies and might not desire to use Teespring. YouTube is not requiring creators to use the on-page merch shelf offering, meaning video makers can still plug links to swag-buying destinations as has been done. Admittedly, that might put such creators at a disadvantage. Even so, YouTube is reportedly looking to add more online custom product providers from which creators can sell merch directly through its platform.

For those interested in the financial mechanics, it appears Teespring will retain a flat price per item sold. YouTubers will be able to set the pricing on products so there is potential for mark-up on popular products, which could possibly lead to substantial profit. Teespring's cut can vary per item and on quantity sold. YouTube receives a commission on the sales, but did not reveal the specifics of its compensation.

For Teespring, the partnership with YouTube is a huge win. Laying employees off amid difficult times a few years ago, the web-based merch seller now stands ready to benefit from a potentially massive new revenue channel. Could the exposure Teespring will gain threaten at least some sales for traditional distributors? Could the YouTube/Teespring partnership weaken distributors' ability to compete for the business of YouTubers selling merch? We'll be interested to see how things play out.

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