Frosting on the T-Shirt
Some things just stand out. T-Shirts sold like cupcakes is one of them. Being named America’s № 1 entrepreneur is another.
Crazy loyal, even tattooed fans, multi-million dollar profits, innovative (some say brazen) marketing strategies and global media attention has made Johnny Cupcakes one of the world’s coolest international clothing brands, in the space of 15 years.
“Guy’s thought it was funny, girls thought it was cute, it just made people smile…”
This kind of rapid success gets the world’s attention. But you don’t need to read the many case studies or scour The New York Times, Forbes or Business Week to find out how founder Johnny Earle did it. The young entrepreneur is more than happy to share his recipe for success, and he’s coming to Liverpool to do just that.
Headlining this year’s ACCELERATE (Friday 1st July) Johnny Earle will tell delegates how to build a dedicated fan-base from nothing, why creativity and surprise is essential and how authenticity in marketing makes people genuinely believe in your brand.
So to get you warmed up, we’ve selected 10 genius Johnny Cupcake moments that will make you wish you’d thought of his ideas first.
- WEIRD IS GOOD – While printing t-shirt for his band, Johnny got a few made up with one of his nicknames on ‘Johnny Cupcakes’ and everyone wanted one. “A food based clothing theme had never been done before,” explains Johnny, “It was weird for people, but it really got them talking, so I started making more”.
- BASTARDISE THE POPULAR – Johnny likes to poke fun at popular culture, borrowing elements of their design and presenting them as something totally different. “Pre-awareness helps. I replaced known references with cupcakes. That’s how the Jonny Cupcakes logo came about. Guy’s thought it was funny, girls thought it was cute and it just made people smile.”
- BE UNPREDICTABLE – Running with the Bakery theme, Johnny opened quirky stores in the world’s most sought after locations, including Los Angeles and London’s Carnaby Street. The greatest thing is that they don’t look anything like any other clothing store. Decked out like a traditional bakery Johnny’s stores come complete with serving counters, ovens, pastry packaging and a pumped in ‘cupcake frosting’ smell. “My inner-jokester still gets a kick out of fooling hungry shoppers. Cupcake or not, they usually leave with a t-shirt or a great story,” admits Johnny.
GET PEOPLE TALKING – Johnny’s customers do the marketing for him. “I’ve always taken my advertising budget and put it into building unique experiences through our products, packaging and events. Word of mouth spreads like nothing else but it also sticks, people believe it.”
- SURPRISE – Johnny started out by selling his T-Shirts out of old beat-up suitcases from the boot of his car, but the funny thing is that he’s still doing the same thing today. “I wanted to take it back to my roots by personally driving around the entire USA and opening up one-day pop-up shops in every major city. We called it the suitcase tour. We did the same thing for the Halloween season, but with coffins.”
- MAKE CUSTOMERS FEEL SPECIAL –Johnny likes to engage with his customers, on a personal level, through social media. “I’ve tweeted my location, announcing “Show up at this ice cream shop with your Johnny Cupcakes t-shirt on and I’ll treat you to desert!” It still amazes me to see hundreds of fans show up.”
- ONE-OF-A-KIND WORKS – Limited edition Johnny Cupcakes t-shirts can create fever-pitch demand and envious looks among fans. Jonny believes that rare pieces add to the lure of his clothing. “Fans even camp out for weeks for limited release items so I continue to run these little experiments.”
REWARD DEDICATION – If you need proof of the devotion of Johnny Cupcakes fans check out the scores of Johnny Cupcakes tattoos that’re popping up all over the place. “Nothing says commitment like a tattoo. It shows the enduring appeal of our logo and that people buy into our brand and ethos. I never get tired of seeing the tattooed fans, we always support them on social media and they love it”.
- GIVE BACK – Johnny is strong advocator of giving back by donating time to organizations in need every day, supporting local charities and donating products to fundraisers. “It’s good for mankind and it’s good for business too. We sponsor art foundations, sports teams, booster clubs and camps in my hometown of Hull, so the brand has this really close association with good work.”
DON’T BE AFRAID TO REINVENT – Johnny Cupcake’s designs are ever changing and the brand collaborates with some surprising partners to ensure they keep delighting fans. “We’ve worked with Nickelodeon, Marilyn Monroe’s estate, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, House of Blues, The Simpsons, Mike Napoli, Bicycle Playing Cards, Suffolk University, Linkin Park, Kamp Grizzly, Hello Kitty, Warner Bros. and Coachella. These mash-ups go down really well and help us to keep evolving.”
So there you have it. ACCLELERATE 2016 is a hot-ticket event this year thanks to Johnny Cupcakes. One size doesn’t fit all, but the strategy and ideas behind Johnny’s success could be the perfect fit for your business. Read more about the event and book here.
Chances are Johnny will even throw in a T-Shirt.
Tags: ACCELERATE 2015