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Hats photo for fishing column

Advertising on hats has become big business in the fishing and boating industries.

TERRY BROWN PHOTO

Advertising one’s products has leapfrogged from simple to complex and subtle nuances have jumped significantly in recent years. What started out as a hat has turned into an advertising tool and a valuable piece of real estate. It started as a team thing and has evolved into an advertising thing.

It started with a hat: The baseball style cap has now transcended all sports as a tool, but just as important as a place where company logos can be represented. Function has been replaced with marketing.

Originating and long used in baseball, worn by the New York Knickerbockers beginning in 1849 and first made of straw, they were designed to protect the eyes on a sunny day. Later the baseball cap was made of wool and latex and the look changed from floppy to upright with a crown.

The bill style lid is now found in every sport and the marketing possibilities for that piece of head gear seem endless. Owning that valuable real estate on an athlete can bring value to the advertiser in the form of visibility and to the athlete in the way of a stipend.

NASCAR supporting companies have made the cap a prime placement and if you watch races often you will see those hats being changed multiple times during interviews, etc., for that branding. It has become big business.

There are logos on the front, side and back of the hat, multiple change-outs for visibility and big dollars from companies for their wear in appearances. High profile athletes reap the benefits of large contracts just for wearing company logos on their hats. Professional leagues mandate what can be on these hats on the field of play in the NFL and MLB and the guidelines are strict.

Professional anglers also have hat wear in their contracts and companies in the fishing industry know the value of strategic placement. Although monies contracted for by professional anglers have not reached the level of NASCAR and other sports, it is increasing and is no longer given away.

Hats and vinyl wrapping of the anglers' boats has become big business and the numbers of impressions generated by each can be staggering. High profile professional anglers have reaped the benefits of being savvy business people for both.

Manufacturers not only use hats for their pros, but fans and lower level weekend folks clamor for a hat like their heroes. Companies in fishing utilize the pro angler and weekenders equally. It becomes both an endorsement and advertising piece all in one.

Vinyl wraps and floor graphics: Looking at a car at a NASCAR race could cause a seizure. Every square inch of that car has value and companies pay for that placement. The same is now true in fishing.

What once was just a boat is now a floating billboard and every mile on the water and the road to the lake is measured. Companies are willing to pay for ad impressions and because boats and trucks are angler offices, they are using them to increase their value and balance sheet.

Vinyl wraps on boats are now rolling murals and just about everything imaginable can be designed and wrapped onto the boat. Inside the boat floor graphics add to the wrap with more logos. Because the business of fishing is done inside the boat and TV coverage and press materials for magazine and digital publications, placement inside the boat is equally critical.

These floor graphics use an adhesive that sticks to carpet but can easily be removed, when sponsors change, without decreasing the value of the boat. The same is true with the wrap. It can be removed. The side benefit to the wrap is it actually protects the outside of the boat while on it.

What is next? Sublimation style shirts, embroidered hats, floor graphics and wraps are changing the game for the professional angler. The smart ones know the value of quality logo placement. The companies that participate in fishing do as well.

What once was a simple sport about catching fish has turned into an attractive advertising venue for all kinds of companies. They can enter fishing for less money than other sports with nearly the same visibility and a lot less headaches.

Non-endemic (outside of the sport) and endemic companies are beginning to see the value of fishing to reach a demographic of more than 60 million people that they may not be reaching today. I can hardly wait to see what is next.

Terry Brown is President of Wired2Fish.com, an industry leading, daily website and social media fishing centered community that provides information on products, industry newsmakers and fishing techniques. You can read more by going to www.Wired2Fish.com.

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