#TheStreetScene: Carbon takes a step inside New Era, the world’s most iconic cap brand

We talk collaborations, influencer marketing and how to make it in the industry with Head of PR Samantha Gibb!

Q: What is your job role at New Era Cap, and what are you responsible for?

I work in the brand team at New Era EMEA as the Head of PR and Entertainment Marketing. On a day-to-day level, my team and I work closely on the PR and digital strategies through media and influencer partnerships, social media and web content, press launches and music collaborations. That sounds like a lot but the importance is to have consistency in brand messaging across all of our brand channels.

Q: Coming up to thirteen years now at New Era Cap Company, if you could highlight and share your favourite marketing campaign which you were a part of, throughout your time there so far, what would it be?

There really have been so many as the brand has grown exponentially in the last decade. If I were to think of a few, leading both press announcements of our headwear partnerships with Manchester United FC and Tottenham FC – a proud moment for all of us. We launched the brand in India a few years back with cricket captain, Virat Kohli, designing a line of caps. If you know how fanatical the country is about cricket, then you will appreciate how much of a megastar he is. When we arrived in Mumbai for the launch event and I saw Virat gracing several towering billboards across the city, it confirmed the magnitude of his influence across a country with a population of 1.3 billion.

Aside from that, I’ve loved initiating our music collaboration program which has reached so many new audiences and created instant sell-out products. I had worked on the Moodymann collaboration for over two years right from the initial design session with Kenny, to legal contracts, product development and content creation, so it’s extremely satisfying to see the work pay off when his global fanbase are so hyped for the launch. The artists that we choose to work with are passionate about our products which ultimately creates much more engaging and meaningful content for the consumer to enjoy.

India cricket captain Virat Kohli with New Era

Q: Technology is ever-growing, how do you think it is going to change the way New Era operates?

I would say technology has already changed the way we operate across all functions from marketing and product development to logistics and sourcing. From a marketing standpoint, our target consumer is digitally savvy so we absolutely need to focus our efforts through digital marketing. We’re constantly improving our user experience across web and continuing to grow both our social and email communities with personalised and engaging content. Technology has revolutionised the way we make product as improved machinery enables us to produce new headwear silhouettes and fabrics as well as more intricate embroidery on our caps that would not have been possible a few years ago. We’re even producing wearable technology so yes, it’s ever-evolving!

Q: Influencer marketing is a huge part of PR now, are there any who really sum up the New Era brand and why?

It is, we’re very fortunate that our products are naturally adopted by globally recognised stars in sport, music and fashion such as Romelu Lukaku, Chance the Rapper and Kendall Jenner to name a few. With the help of regional PR agencies across Europe, we’re focusing our seeding efforts on micro influencers who have a lower but more engaged following. With the meteoric rise of Instagram and YouTube over recent years, consumers take their style cues from every day, more relatable influencers as opposed to global icons. We partner with streams of influencers every season on content creation for upcoming collections and ensure we have the rights to share their images across our platforms as well as theirs.

Q: Why is it important for New Era to show such an iconic link to sport, music and culture within marketing campaigns and brand activity?

New Era is celebrating its 100 year anniversary in 2020 and our brand heritage is enriched with so many incredible stories of product innovation, brand partnerships and the commitment and passion of the Koch family (the CEO is currently fourth generation). We’re a brand defined by our licence portfolio which includes longstanding partnerships with MLB, NBA, NFL and more recently, Manchester United, Tottenham and McLaren motorsport, but we’re also a product that is rooted in street culture which has seen New Era collaborate with the likes of The North Face, Fear of God and Moncler. It’s important to balance the two messages so both sport and culture sit at the heart of our marketing strategy.

The Tottenham Hotspur and New Era announcement

Q: New Era Cap celebrated their 100-year anniversary this year. The brand has seen so many trends come and go throughout the past century, from various colours to style to collaborations. What trends will New Era be tapping into next season?

We have to be very nimble when it comes to reacting to trends, we can be working on seasons a few years ahead of launch but we also have the capacity to create quick-to-market programs which can be designed, developed and launched into market within a matter of months. With the current coronavirus situation, it’s hard to know how this will affect our product roadmap long-term but you can definitely expect to see more headwear patches, digital camo prints and sports tech-inspired products from us in the coming months as we continue to listen to the needs of our consumers and key accounts.

Q: New Era have expanded into producing other garments such as t-shirts and bags? What drove this decision?

Again, this was a decision based on consumer demand which has been met by an appetite to sell via our key accounts across Europe as well as our own stores and online. We may be category leaders when it comes to headwear but we’re not when it comes to apparel and accessories so we’ve driven both through our MLB, NFL and NBA licenses which does give us a competitive advantage.

Part of the New Era SS20 collection

Q: Our student audience are obsessed with streetwear and huge fans of New Era – how important are portfolios, CV’s and social media profiles when you’re recruiting interns? Any top tips to stand out in the crowd?

Absolutely, it’s great to have an insight into you as an individual. We can receive a lot of CVs but a link to a portfolio can be a great way to give the employer more of a reason to meet you in person. Always proof read your CV, you wouldn’t believe how many CVs I come across with grammatical errors and when it comes to applying for a job in brand comms, those CVs are immediately dismissed!

Q: You’ve worked your way up the ladder at New Era – where did you work/intern before and did you learn any skills which have helped you progress through the industry?

I studied Multimedia Journalism at Bournemouth University which was very vocational, I was interviewing news broadcasters at ITV as well as editing my own features so that was a good foundation for me to start with. I’ve interned at local magazines, the BBC, record labels and worked in high fashion previously– I can’t stress enough that work experience counts for a lot, I see a lot of young people leaving education and not really possessing a drive to work above and beyond. Never be afraid to reach out to companies to explore internships, some will be paid and others won’t but you have to make some sacrifices to stand out from the rest, even if it’s just for a few weeks at a time. Don’t shy away from hard work. Our PR Coordinator started as an intern and he made himself invaluable to the team by showing such enthusiasm for even the most mundane tasks such as unpacking large deliveries. Over a year later, he’s a permanent member of my team who’s running projects and helping to shape our seasonal PR strategies.

Q: Due to your very demanding role you must experience a heavy workload and as students we are constantly juggling deadlines – what is your best method of time management?

Prioritise and don’t procrastinate! As a brand, we can have anything up to 20-30 different product launches happening in one week so we have to choose which ones we will communicate and then decide which brand channel we will use. I have a weekly meeting with the Brand Director and my counterparts across Product, Marketing and Design and we will review each project and finalise the calendar for the week ahead. The preparation that goes in beforehand is crucial to a successful launch. Write it down, assign deadlines and stick to it!

A massive thank you to Samantha Gibb for taking part in this interview for Carbon Magazine, on behalf of New Era Cap.

She can be found on Instagram with the handle @samanthavgibb and New Era can be found with @neweraeurope.

By Matthew Nicoll for #TheStreetScene