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The Good Ones Clothing Co. Builds Brand around Band
Posted February 22, 2013 by Rob Peoni
WRITTEN BY
Rob Peoni
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February 22, 2013
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The Final Hurrahs MFT Page
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The lines that define acceptable use of creative property blurred long ago. In the years since the legal and public backlash over Nike's decision to repurpose The Beatles' "Revolution" for its 1987 sneaker ad, fans and artists alike have grown comfortable with the incestuous relationship between music and advertising. Some commercials have served to provide posthumous success to still largely unknown artists, as was the case with Nick Drake after "Pink Moon" was used in a Volkswagen commercial.

What happens when a brand decides to build its entire marketing strategy around a single band? Take that concept another step further. What if a company could invent a band specifically for the purpose of creating a narrative around its product line? This concept was brought to life when Matt Kelley, owner of Fort Wayne design and marketing boutiqueOne Lucky Guitar partnered with longtime client Denise Demarchis ofMatilda Jane Clothing to launch a boy's line last spring.The Good Ones brand revolves around its fictional in-house band The Final Hurrahs.

"The Idea was that we could do a bunch of just cool t-shirts and things that are unconnected," Kelley said in an interview, "but if there was just something that tied it all together and make it feel cohesive, it would give us the opportunity with the website to do more interactive, free things: the tour blog, the coloring pages and all that. For the kid, this is not just an article of clothing but it's something they can get excited about and maybe inspire them."

So Kelley and Demarchis had their concept, but they still didn't have a band. For that, Kelley tapped Indiana musician Josh Hall (Thunderhawk), and commissioned him to create a concept album on the magic of boyhood.

"I met with Matt at a bar a few days after I got this cryptic email about doing some project," Hall said. "He basically had a few black and white sketches of these four cartoon dogs that had guitars and drums in their hands. I don't know shit about clothes, especially kids clothes and I'm not sure Matt does either. I've only ever seen him in jeans and a t-shirt. But if there's one thing I've learned, it's that whatever project Matt is involved in, you want to be a part of it."

Hall spent the next several weeks crafting the material that would comprise The Final Hurrahs' debut LP Numero One. Hall said that he drew from childhood memories of jumping on a BMX bike and not coming back until sundown. He would meet regularly with Kelley and trade emails regarding specific ideas for songs and lyrics. Kelley's goal was to produce an album that could attract the ears and imagination of children, but that parents might fall in love with too.

To put it mildly, Hall achieved what the project set out to accomplish. Numero One is a guitar-driven celebration of distinctly childlike emotions with the backbone of a kick-ass rock release. Hall effectively interprets the confining nature of parental regulations, the dependable comfort of an old t-shirt, and the singular joy of a backstage pass. Kelley talked a lot about the fact that Hall is "cursed" with this prolific creative output - a fact that Hall did not dispute. He said he has always had way too many songs rolling around in his head for one band, let alone one man. So what began as a few commissioned songs quickly snowballed into a full album.

"Personally I was just hoping to write some cool songs that kids would get exposed to at an early age," Hall said, "and then when they were about 12 or 13 and started riffling through their parents record collection just like the rest of us did, they would revisit The Good Ones and it would inspire them to pick up a guitar and write songs and I could pass 'the curse' onto someone else."

Kelley echoed these sentiments, saying: "That's part of our noble mission I think, is that some of these six or eight year-olds out here, in 10 years, are gonna have killer rock bands."


For its first year, The Good Ones was content to ride on the coattails of Matilda Jane and simply get the word out about the boy's line. Sales were limited to online orders. For 2013, the company hopes to expand into some boutique and retail outlets. Kelley is excited about the brand's potential from a display perspective, so the team has been creating mock-ups of potential cut-outs of The Final Hurrahs characters. The clothing line is planning to roll out a series of shirts and other materials that would follow the band along fictional tour dates, allowing The Good Ones to target specific geographic regions.

Kelley said that The Good Ones plans to stick with Hall as the brand's musical counterpart for a while. Though Hall is unsure of how the characters will grow or develop, he is excited about the prospect of continuing the concept and has already began fleshing out more material. He is also grateful for the financial opportunity that The Good Ones represents.

"I think the best part is that I was able to save up some money and keep the lights on," Hall said. "but I also like the idea that some suburban mom is secretly listening to Thunderhawk. I was also promised a bunch of free TGO shirts, which I did get."

The relative success of The Good Ones brand remains to be seen. However, Kelley and his crew deserve credit for thinking outside of the box to create a marketing campaign that utilizes music in a new template. Hall credits Kelley for entering uncharted territory, acknowledging the difference between The Good Ones concept and brands like Urban Outfitters who put together music compilations of existing bands to create an aesthetic around their clothes. He is optimistic about the brand's potential, but remains wary of other companies capitalizing off of their idea.

"Realistically, some other kids clothing company will steal The Good Ones business model and incorporate cool indie rock songs that appeal to kids and adults," Hall said. "Then it will get bought out by Target for a bagillion dollars, meanwhile i'll be standing at a stop light in front of a Target with a sign that says 'Will Write Songs for Food' as people throw pennies at me."

For the sake of all involved, let's hope Hall is wrong about this one.

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