STAR CADET X SNOWPIERCER
In our recent collaboration with the marketing team at Warner Media for their hit television series Snowpiercer, premiering its 3rd season on TNT, we curated a prize kit for the show’s most dedicated fans by pulling ideas straight from the Snowpiercer universe to let people hold the essence of the show in their hands.
We recently had the opportunity to collaborate with the marketing team at WarnerMedia for their hit television series Snowpiercer, which just premiered its third season on TNT. We curated and produced a number of prize kits for the show’s most dedicated fans by pulling ideas straight from the Snowpiercer universe, letting fans hold the essence of the show in their hands.
HOW IT BEGAN...
The idea didn’t start out this way initially. In the spring of 2020, we were approached by Turner Broadcasting to curate and design a collection of licensed products for Season 1 of Snowpiercer. These products would not only be sold on starcadet.com, but would act as an introductory style guide for other licensees to follow. So we came up with a bunch of ideas, including but not limited to: army jackets, notebooks, enamel pins, etc. For us, the goal has always been to put an end to the era of logo slaps on cheap, corporate-feeling apparel and accessories. Instead, we strived to create something that felt like it came out of the world of Snowpiercer–something that felt immersive and authentic to the show.
So we did research and came up with products that we felt reflected both our ideals and the Snowpiercer universe, and we pitched it. We then went through a full round of reviews and approvals with the show creator and the contact at Turner. Unfortunately, once we were done with the approval process and getting ready to launch, plans changed at Turner and the collaboration was cancelled due to the merger between Time Warner and Turner Broadcasting, thus killing the project dead in the water. This is not uncommon when dealing with the entertainment industry. We were saddened that the products would not make it to the fans of the show who had little to no merchandise for the fandom, but we didn’t give up.
FAST FORWARD TO SUMMER 2021
After hiking through Tuna Canyon in California and reminiscing about how much they wished that the work we did would get to the fans, Bailey and Rachel did another sweep through the product development with the idea to keep pursuing the project but shifting the focus to marketing. Bailey added two killer custom box designs with 3D renderings and dielines to the mix, then Rachel took this updated merchandise deck to a few remaining contacts left at Turner (now Warner Media) to see if the products could be used for marketing purposes. The pitch was that, because the products were already approved by the show creator and had been through the legal approval process, they could make an easy transition to a marketing kit.
As the marketing team began gearing up for Season 3 of the show to premier, we were at the top of their inboxes. With a lot of determination (and some luck), we landed the job to make these kits as a prize for their mobile game giveaway. We worked with Warner Media’s marketing team to determine the best means for distribution. Access to the kit was reserved exclusively for fans who engaged with the mobile game, Snowfighter, and was distributed via discount codes directly to the winner's email. We decided on listing the prize kit as a product on the site, only accessible through the email link and the discount codes–all unique to the individual winners. This also ensured the customer could enter their own shipping information and that they would receive production updates and tracking information.
Once we decided exactly what was going into the boxes and how they would be distributed, our in-house photographer Amberle shot images of the merchandise to provide to the marketing and social media teams at TNT. We photographed high-resolution flat lays and modeled shots of all of the merchandise on white backgrounds, then we took it a small step further by taking flat lays and modeled shots of the merchandise in a stylized way to look as though they were taken in-universe.
Then our printers, Skip, Seth, Luke, and Nylah, got to work on production. Both the t-shirts and hoodies were printed using gold shimmer ink and featured the Wilford “W” on the front. The hoodies received a “Wilford Industries” sleeve print, also printed with gold shimmer ink.
Our seamstress, Kirstie, sewed the teal and gold labels featuring the “W” on the hem of the shirts, the hood of the hoodies, and on the beanies. Once that was done, our shipping assistant Victoria began folding, bagging, and packing these items, while Amberle hand wrote each winner’s name on their train ticket.
KEEPING THE WINNERS IN THE LOOP
We’re a small team that focuses on the details that we feel elevate our product and make us stand out. But we don’t want our customers to be in the dark about why their order might take longer than, say, Amazon. In the time between the order confirmation and the shipping confirmation, we also like to send a production notification–a personalized email letting the customer know that our printers are currently printing their shirt and that they should get the shipping notification soon. We knew we wanted to do this for Snowpiercer, so we decided to create a production email specifically catered to these customers.
Instead of the 4-6 week gaps of limbo for the winners, we created a production email that showed fans both the production process and the people behind it every step of the way. We did this by filming GIFs of everything from shirts being printed and packed to their names being written on the train ticket backer cards (seen above). We received email responses from excited fans, telling us they couldn’t wait and that they loved being kept in the loop. Because this customer experience was so well received, it resulted in an increase in general sales on the Star Cadet website.
Lastly, anticipating that shipping carriers might lose items (it’s an unavoidable, though uncommon occurrence), we held back 10 boxes as backups and, as predicted, it helped us account for these human errors.
“I feel really proud of the products in this Snowpiercer marketing kit. I do wish we could have used more of the other items and artwork we curated for season one as well. But by the time this transitioned from a licensed collection Star Cadet would sell and moved to a marketing promotional kit, the show was in its 3rd season. Therefore, we chose to go with the more basic clothing items in the collection such as the Wilford W logo with shimmer gold inks. Not to mention keeping it simple made all the items play well together. Our ability to pivot and use the work curated from season one, for a kit going out to promote the third season, demonstrates that we were able to capture the essence of the show well enough that it stood the test of time. And that I am also proud of as well. =)” – Rachel Rogers, co-owner and art director
All in all, the boxes were well-received, fans were happy, and there was even more thoughtful production at Star Cadet. We loved doing this job, and we hope in the future that we’re able to do more kits like this.
Art Direction: Rachel Rogers
Package Design: Bailey O Galloway
Photographer: Amberle Phillips
Model: Tyler ReneAngelo
Special shout out to Ariel Yarmus, Laura Forti, & Jez DeWolff—without them this collaboration wouldn't have even left the station. Thank you for being down to bring this product to the fans and making all of this possible!
This post was written by Amberle Phillips and Rachel Rogers, and edited by Kirstie Frank. All images are by Amberle Phillips.