The 2016 Democratic National Convention (DNC) rolls into Philadelphia at the end of July, but planning for the massive political event is already in high gear. Earlier this month, the host committee named Philadelphia-based distributor Impact Dimensions (asi/230321) the official merchandise firm for the convention.
Impact will be responsible for manufacturing, marketing, selling and fulfilling orders for a variety of host committee merchandise and promotional materials. “We are extremely honored to be selected as the official merchandise vendor,” said Luis Liceaga, president of Impact Dimensions.
The distributor firm was chosen because of its proven track record handling large-scale events, according to Kevin Washo, executive director of the host committee. Impact Dimensions has handled merchandising for a number of Philadelphia-based events, including the pope’s 2015 visit, the Philadelphia Marathon and the 2000 Republican National Convention. “We only do conventions when they're in our home town,” explained Norbert McGettigan, chief operating officer of Impact Dimensions. “Luis and I know the city in and out. We have a lot to offer clients.”
The request for proposal (RFP) process for this year’s DNC began in December. Impact Dimensions had to submit a 60-page bid explaining its areas of expertise and committing to staffing and inventory levels for the event, McGettigan said. Now that Impact has received the nod from the host committee, the firm is working with graphic artists to interpret the official logo into trendy and retail-friendly designs. Once the host committee approves the initial designs, Impact will reach out to key supplier partners to create virtual samples, eventually whittling down the official product line to about 50 pieces, including caps, T-shirts, drinkware, buttons and other trinkets. “All the things you would expect at a convention,” McGettigan said.
One important point, however, is that the DNC host committee requires all merchandise to be American-made, “100% start to finish,” McGettigan said. “You won’t find one item in our store that is not made in the USA.”
An online store for DNC merchandise is slated to go live in early May, and the first retail shops will open in late June, according to McGettigan. During the week of the convention (July 25-28), there will be multiple pop-up shops throughout Philadelphia, as well as at the main venue: the Wells Fargo Center. In addition to the retail merchandise, Impact will have the opportunity to put together welcome bags for delegates, and create T-shirts for tens of thousands of DNC volunteers. There is also the potential for special orders from out-of-state VIPs, looking for merchandise branded with their own logos, McGettigan noted.
Heading up the merchandising for an event as involved as the DNC can be a risk, McGettigan said. “We have to do it all on spec, and cross our fingers and hope people like what we design.” Otherwise, there’s the potential to be stuck with a lot of unsold inventory. In the past, Impact Dimensions has brought in anywhere from $450,000 to $2.9 million for events it handled. The firm is budgeting roughly $975,000 in sales for the 2016 DNC, McGettigan said.