Of all the things Nike sells, tennis merchandise is probably towards the bottom of the list.
That even goes for its late, lamented Roger Federer “RF”-logoed merchandise.
Surprisingly, the gross sales on those items might not even have added up to the amount they paid the man himself to be the front man for it.
But there is a notable exception to that.
When Federer was on site at a tournament – especially in the U.S., where tournaments offer Nike merchandise on site – it’s not an exaggeration to say there was somewhat of a Fed frenzy.
Miami Open 2017 – selling out the caps
Federer has reclaimed his eponymous logo from Nike after nearly 2 1/2 years. And he and new sponsor Uniqlo announced Tuesday that they were going to put “RF” Uniqlo caps on sale next week.
If they want to sell a bunch of them, they need to figure out a way to get onsite at some of the events the comebacking Federer will play in 2021.
Because when the Fed is in the house, people go nuts for the merch.
Exhibit A: the Miami Open in 2017.
Caps flying off the shelves
Take a look at some of the footage we shot at the Miami Open in 2017.
This is what happened every time Federer finished a match on the stadium court.
People would fly over to the merchandise tent (which carried most of the main brands, not just Nike) and pile onto the Fed merchandise.
And if you remember how … jarring the Federer shirts were early in 2017, you realize that it wasn’t the fabulousness of the kit, but the fabulousness of the player they were after.
If memory serves, the footage above was right after the quarterfinal match against Tomas Berdych, which Federer won in a third-set tiebreak.
At one point, we were told, they sold … 317 caps in one 15-minute period.
It was a great “Sunshine Swing” for Federer, who won both Indian Wells and Miami that year.
Miami burned in 2016
The shelves emptied of Federer caps in about a nanosecond after every match in Miami in 2017. But the Nike people had a problem – they had not ordered nearly enough stock.
The caveat with the on-site sales is that Federer actually has to be playing.
The previous year, in 2016, Federer was scheduled to make his return after that “bathtub” accident after the Australian Open, when he tore his meniscus and had to have surgery.
So plenty of Federer merchandise was ordered. And Federer was in the house. But in the end, he never took the court. Federer pulled out – not because of the knee, but because of stomach virus.
And the Miami folks got stuck with a big portion of the order.
Miami cautious in 2017
So in 2017, they were super cautious. And with Federer being in the tournament all the way to the end, they ran out of stock in the first few days.
On the day we shot the video above, they had just gotten in a supplemental shipment of caps. They were all black, though.
So many people came up to the poor kid working in that section to ask about other colours, only to be told it was a “black only” day.
The shipment went in a hurry, and they filled in those shelves with some Rafael Nadal caps (which also sell well on site).
A couple of days later, they got a few more in – very few, all white.
Those also went in a flash. It’s also interesting to see how many of the people who strolled up to buy one already HAD an RF Federer cap on.
I guess you can never have too many. No doubt they’ll all pony up for the new Uniqlo version as well.