I had a chat recently with Jordan Stark, one of the minds behind the Bring Back the Brown campaign. I first met Jordan at Friar Fest 2011. RJ’s Fro, Friarhood, Ghost of Ray Kroc, a few others and I were hanging out when up walks a dude handing out flyers that with “Bring Back the Brown” printed. At the time I wasn’t sure how much success a flyer would have in that regard, but I dug the sentiment. Thanks in part to our shared love of the Padres and fashion, Jordan and I became friends. I soon learned more about his cool ideas, so I asked him to share some of them with us.
I chatted with Jordan about his thoughts on what Bring Back the Brown is about, how he sees it happening, his involvement in Padres promotions, and a great brown promotional item being given away on this Friday, May 17th.
We’re also giving away a FREE pair of limited edition Bring Back the Brown Knockaround sunglasses, vol. 2. To enter, post a photo of yourself wearing brown Padres gear on Facebook or Twitter. Be sure to tag Padres Public or mention Padres Public so we see you, and use the hashtag #BringBackTheBrown. We’ll pick a winner and send them a pair of shades.
Melvin: Jordan Stark, welcome to the Danger Zone. In a few sentences what is the Bring Back the Brown project and why did you start it?
Jordan: 1. It’s our way of maintaining a relationship with our hometown baseball club.
The Pads have had a ton of identity and cultural changes over the last twenty years that conflict with the club we grew up supporting. Since moving back to San Diego after college, we started paying notice to all the locals throughout San Diego still wearing brown Padres gear. We realized we totally relate with them, and that there was an unspoken sentiment. In the 20+ years the Padres wore blue in the MLB none of us at our studio ever sought to own a blue Padres product, and it wasn’t because of any sort of conscious boycott. We just would naturally gravitate towards brown Padres/SD gear when showing support, and it’s the only color we feel right wearing when doing so. Brown is a big part of the identity we grew up associating with San Diego, SD baseball and the Padres. To us and many others, it has always been distinctively Padres Baseball and San Diego, there is no mistaking it.
2. “Bring Back the Brown” is a fun passion project for us.
We’re a design studio with an emphasis in identity and branding. It’s sufficient to say that the Padres franchise (and the city of San Diego) have issues which have made it challenging to develop a rooted and very loyal following; both in the sense of civic pride and consequently sporting fan-ship. I’d go into detail on the various problems and challenges we’ve identified but it’d be a dissertation! Beyond the Zoo, SeaWorld, surfing, Tony Gwynn, the Chargers, the Padres, the military, and good weather, San Diego doesn’t call to mind much else to the outside world.
The problem is there is sooooo much more that San Diego can be proud of, including the fact it is home to the busiest international border crossing in the entire world. The gate to Latin America is 15.2 miles away from Petco Park and that’s just incredible to us. Our city has an incredibly rich history, and much of what is written starts off with the Spanish, Juan Cabrillo and later, Friar Junípero Sierra. Afterall, that’s where “The Padres” come from. Our city’s history and culture is undeniably tied to Latin American and Mexico, more so than the rest of California, and frankly we feel the Padres franchise is a little clueless. Ultimately though, it’s the job of San Diegans to take ownership of their identity, to bring out that character and color to draw from, and that’s all we’re doing. Addressing one aspect of our hometown in a fun, playful fashion, by doing what we do best.
Melvin: Ok, so that’s Bring Back the Brown in a symbolic sense. What has Bring Back the Brown been so far in a physical sense? I know it’s been a movement that’s involved fans, downtown area businesses, and some fun products. Can you explain a little about those?
Jordan: Engagement with fans, advocates, businesses and a broader community is important for many reasons. Without engagement and support from like-minded people, whatever we’re endorsing has little weight, and the project itself wouldn’t be any fun. Being part of a club or city is about the community. When we support a club or live in a city, we’re contributing to the makeup of the culture whether we like it or not. We can be passive, active, eccentric, boring, friendly, rude, etc, but we’re a contributor regardless. So naturally, we seek to build with active supporters who believe in San Diego, and are eager to positively contribute to the legacy of the club and city. Phenomenal clubs and cultures are not made in isolation, and that’s a fact.
As for the products we’re producing, we’re simply making things we like and practice what we preach. We realize the Padres have had some pretty audacious uniforms in their past, and that’s not exactly what we’re advocates of. As designers and artists, we know brown can be applied with just as much class as blue, or red, or whatever, and that’s what we’re doing when making products in support of the campaign and team. It also enables us to do exciting work with, or in support of, other companies, organizations, and fans that feel the same way.
Melvin: So speaking of, you and I have talked a lot about our ideas for Padres uniforms. Obviously one of your (and my) goals is for the Padres to incorporate brown in their uniforms. Do you think this is a reachable goal? How do you see it happening?
Jordan: We absolutely believe it’s a reachable goal and we see it happening with time, perseverance, and most importantly persuasion. We understand that the Padres leadership holds fan surveys in high regard, but anybody in marketing and advertising knows that surveys only tell you so much. An opinion can be swayed with a compelling alternative or argument that someone filling out a survey isn’t seeing, anticipating or thinking about.
Although we typically we don’t release plans before actually executing them, one way we plan to demonstrate this is launching a uniform contest on the Bring Back The Brown website this season. We feel this will most certainly raise the bar in more ways than one. The only rule we imagine setting for the contest is that brown must be incorporated into the uniform submission, everything else would be fair game. Should be fun.
Melvin: I think seeing some quality uniform designs that incorporate brown can really change the way people think of the idea. Brown can be used in lots of ways with different shades and accents, and can be tasteful and beautiful in the right hands.
Haha well, I think we can talk about hypothetical unis forever. Let’s move on to the giveaway glasses which are tangible and actually happening this week.
Melvin: What convenient timing!
You worked on the creation of the sunglasses to be given away on retro night, Friday May 17th. Can you share with us more details about how you were involved, and any interesting nuggets you learned about while being part of a Padres promotional night?
Jordan: Yea, sure thing.
To offer some background, Knockaround are good friends and clients of our design studio (Product Etc™), and we produce a range of items for them in any given month. Advertising, package design, product design, event production, environmental design, etc.
Well, this Friday, May 17th they lined up their second annual giveaway with the San Diego Padres. Knockaround are big supporters of the Bring Back the Brown campaign and they sought to line-up a brown giveaway for the 2013 season. To our delight, they ended up securing the promotion for an ’84 “retro-night.” Knockaround then asked us to design a wide range of sunglass styles that use brown and reflect the ’84 colors. Between Knockaround and us, we then selected a design/model that was best reflective of the ’84 Padres uniforms while also satisfying production and budget guidelines. Knockaround then received the Padres approval and the glasses were sent to production. Overall, it was a super smooth process.
Since then we’ve created a lot of the collateral leading up to the promotion such as the brown, orange and gold Knockaround sticker insert / promotion that comes with the glasses, as well as organizing a big event at Mission Brewing that’s going down this Wednesday (5/15) to celebrate the giveaway. It’s been a HUGE honor to be involved in this specific project given our history and passion behind the Padres, Bring Back The Brown, and the city of San Diego.
As far as interesting nuggets, I won’t release much but I will say that the Padres do a great job of taking care of their partners and being a first-class organization to work with.
Melvin: The Padres seem to have promoted the Knockaround name well, both this year and last. As a consumer it’s not something I’m used to thinking or caring about, but those partnerships can bring big revenue streams and it’s good to hear that they’re handled well.
I know lots of us from Padres Public, including Padres and Pints will be at Mission Brewing this Wednesday for the party and then game on Friday.
Don’t forget we’re giving away a free pair of polarized, limited edition Bring Back the Brown glasses. Be sure to tag Padres Public on Facebook or mention Padres Public on Twitter with photos of yourself wearing brown Padres gear, and use the hashtag #BringBackTheBrown.
I have to say I love the Bring Back the Brown campaign and I love the way you’ve turned your passion into something so memorable. I also think it’s hilarious that the guys involved in an official Padres promotion are the same team behind the Bring Back the Brown campaign. Passion is contagious, and getting to know other Padres fans like you guys doing great projects makes being a fan a lot more fun. Any final thoughts?
Jordan: Appreciate that Mel, we absolutely feel the same way about you guys at Padres Public and the other diehards in the Padres community. Playing our part to help build a larger, passionate base of San Diego Padres supporters is a huge reason why we started the campaign and joined the fray. So to hear and see that type of response is all the reward we could ask for. We look forward to contributing to the community for a very long time.
With that said, I think that sums it up! Thanks so much for the opportunity mang!
Oh yeah… one last thing: Go Padres!