Bleacher Report is gunning to be more than just a digital property. The sports and sports culture site is launching pop-up shops and a fashion partnership to build its brand in the real world.
Firmly established as an outlet covering all things NBA, MLB and other mainstream sports, Bleacher Report has partnered with streetwear label KITH, founded by Ronnie Fieg, to open the nine-day pop-up store, #BR99, in Soho, as its first physical outcropping.
“We want to be a brand young people aspire to be a part of, and the pop-up shop is the first step in that process,” said Bleacher Report president Rory Brown. “KITH is a brand that young people line up outside of pop-up shops to buy their clothes, so there was no better brand to associate ourselves with.”
The store’s ambience is dripping in sports culture, including a KITH sportswear collection exclusive to the pop-up, interactive screens allowing people to create their own Bleacher Report memes, and sports-related street-art pieces decorating the bright white walls of the space. A specific Snapchat filter and Instagram geofilter were also created so people can tag the spot.
“BR99 is our brand experience: 99 is kind of this ode to retail; when you’re in a bodega it’s 99 cents a lot, so we said Bleacher Report meets fashion, it’s BR99,” said Bennet Spector, vp of brand strategy and the project’s lead.
To see inside the pop-up, watch the video below.
At 10 years old, the Turner Broadcasting-owned sports site is growing at a rapid pace. It plans to build a 35-person social content team using a $100 million injection from Turner and is in the process of refining its digital and social media strategies. It has assigned a managing editor to individual platforms like Instagram, for example, where since January last year, its followers have increased from 100,000 to 2.6 million, after it developed a content strategy purely for the platform.
In terms of growth, Brown said there’s a huge opportunity to connect with young males especially, and pop-up shops are increasingly becoming the go-to for online-only retailers and brands to face their consumers.
“It’s about brand building at the end of the day,” said Specter. “It’s not about getting more people to go to bleacherreport.com. It’s about when people are talking about sports in general, Bleacher Report should be top of their mind.” And fashion, he said, plays an important role, too.
“Fashion is a part of the culture and it’s part of sports culture. You see guys walking into games and they’re not wearing these three piece suits, they’re wearing cool shoes and cool clothes and that’s what makes fashion important to Bleacher Report.”
Looking forward, Specter said more pop-ups and fashion collaborations are in the pipeline.
“It started with New York, but the next cities we’ll go to are very fashion based, the L.A.s and Miamis of the world.”