Branded face masks hit the market
Brands have found a new advertising platform, and it goes right across our mouths.
Face masks have become essential items in the pandemic, with many cities in the U.S. enforcing their use and the CDC encouraging people to wear face coverings when they go out in public. For some, face masks are even becoming fashion or statement pieces.
At first, selling fashionable masks was deemed bad taste, a source of misinformation and a way to make a quick buck off the pandemic. ASOS was one retailer that quickly pulled ads for its fashionable chainmail face masks, even though they were meant as fashion statements, mainly for music festivals. Facebook and Google initially banned ads for face masks, a decision eventually reversed. Brands like Hershey, Nike and Gap began making masks for healthcare workers.
Now the climate is changing. A number of fashion brands like Madewell, J. Crew and Banana Republic have developed their own fashion-forward masks in signature patterns and colors and are seeing them sell out in record time.
Others are going a step further by placing their brand names or logos directly on new masks and selling them online, or working with licensing companies to sell custom branded masks.
You can now rep your favorite NBA, NFL, NHL or MLS teams with masks, support your favorite musician with Universal Music Group’s line of face masks or show off your fashion sense with Alice + Olivia’s character logo spread across your mouth. A number of bands and small businesses are also selling their own face masks online that don’t shy away from promoting their companies. Many are selling out fast.
“Anything we can do to celebrate and destigmatize the wearing of facemasks—either by making them more fashionable or more fun—the more we incentivize and normalize adoption,” says Jason Musante, global chief creative officer at Huge, who is currently working with a client on rolling out a line of “fun and fashionable face-coverings.” “The more we embrace this new normal, the more lives we'll save.”
In most cases, all or part of the proceeds from sales are going toward COVID-19 relief efforts and brands are making sure to state that their masks are not meant for healthcare professionals and not intended to replace personal protective equipment (PPE). After all, these items are more fashion accessories than safety measures.
Licensing suppliers also see their opening and are promoting their services across platforms. Promo Motive, for instance, shows an image of a mask with a Nike logo next to its pricing: masks with logos go for $1.98 each with a 10,000 order. Michael Lewis, CEO of licensor FOCO, told Licensing International that he estimates that four to six billion masks will be produced and sold in the next 12 months.
These 13 companies have branded masks already on the market:
On Thursday, Disney announced it is selling cloth masks following the CDC's April 3 recommendation that people wear cloth masks in public.
The masks feature beloved characters from across Disney, Pixar, Marvel and "Star Wars" films, such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Anna and Elsa from "Frozen," The Avengers, Woody and Buzz from "Toy Story" and yes, even "Baby Yoda" from Disney+'s "The Mandalorian."
The reusable face masks come in four-packs and are on sale on shopDisney.com in small, medium and large sizes for $19.99. Right now they can be pre-ordered and Disney expects them to be available by June 29. On each item, Disney makes a disclosure: "Not for Surgical or Industrial Use." Within just a few hours, the large Star Wars masks were out of stock.
Disney is donating up to $1 million of profits from sales to MedShare, an aid organization that delivers medical supplies to communities in need. Disney will also donate one million of the cloth face masks for children and families in vulnerable communities across the U.S. through MedShare. This is on top of the Walt Disney Company's $5 million in donations, gifts of more than 100,000 N95 masks to states hardest hit by the pandemic and 175,000 rain ponchos to hospitals.
"During these challenging times, we’re using the power of our timeless stories and beloved characters to address our guests’ needs," writes Laura Cirigliano, director of communications and public affairs at Disney Parks, Experiences and Products on Disney Parks' blog.
NBA and WNBA
The National Basketball Association was one of the first major organizations to embrace the mask game. The league and the Women’s National Basketball Association began selling masks on April 17, featuring logos of the 30 NBA teams and 12 WNBA teams. Youth and adult masks, manufactured by licensors FOCO and Industry Rag, are being sold online at NBAStore.com and WNBAStore.com through NBA’s e-commerce provider Fanatics for $14.99, and three-packs for $24.99. Items will begin shipping on May 21.
All proceeds are going to Feeding America in the U.S. and Second Harvest in Canada. The Fanatics site makes sure to say that masks are fashion accessories and cannot protect from viruses.
“Through this new product offering, NBA and WNBA fans can adhere to these guidelines while joining in the league’s efforts to aid those who have been directly affected by COVID-19,” said Kathy Behrens, NBA president, social responsibility and player programs, in a press release.
The National Football League is now selling face masks featuring all 32 teams on NFLshop.com through Fanatics, the NFL’s ecommerce provider. All proceeds of the $14.99 masks and $24.99 three-packs, also manufactured by FOCO, are going to the CDC Foundation. Masks are available in youth and adult sizes and are not being shipped until June 11.
Like the NBA’s Fanatics’ page, the items make an important disclosure: “This face covering is not intended to prevent or protect from any form of illness or disease.”
The National Hockey League has its own branded masks representing the 31 teams, available on NHLShop.com through its e-commerce provider Fanatics. Masks, manufactured by FOCO, are being sold in packs of three for $24.99 in adult and youth sizes, with all proceeds going towards Feeding America and Food Banks Canada. Similar to the NBA and NFL sites, the NHL items come with disclosures about health and safety.
Major League Soccer is also in on the mask game through its e-commerce provider Fanatics. The league is selling individual masks for $14.99 with logos from all 26 teams. All proceeds are going to Feeding America and Food Banks Canada, and Fanatics is donating one mask for every purchase. Masks will ship on May 8. The items include the same disclosures as the other sports leagues on the platform.
Universal Music Group
Universal Music Group is working with an array of artists to release branded face masks. Called “We Got You Covered,” musicians like Billie Eilish, Justin Bieber, Willie Nelson, Bob Marley and Queen are represented in unique ways. Some are more bespoke than others. The Billie Eilish mask features her signature Blohsh logo (a green man), while the Justin Bieber mask has his name written across the mask.
Each item states: “For the avoidance of doubt, the use of cloth face masks does not protect you against COVID-19.”
The effort is the brainchild of Universal Music Group’s merchandise division Bravado, which has created the e-commerce site wegotyoucovered.com to sell the masks for $15 each, with all of the proceeds going to Musicares, an organization that assists recording artists in need. Universal Music Group is also donating 50,000 masks to frontline workers in the U.S. UMG chairman Lucian Grainge is currently recovering from COVID-19 after being hospitalized.
“I’m humbled and grateful to work with artists and partners who are passionate and driven to deliver a program that supports those that need it most during this unprecedented time,” said Bravado CEO Mat Vlasic in a press release.
Alice + Olivia
With the hashtag #MaskTogether, Alice + Olivia is selling a line of washable, colorful cloth masks, which have already sold out in the two weeks they’ve been online. One of those masks, on sale for $10, is designed with its signature character logo. For every mask sold, the retailer is donating one to communities in need. The next batch of masks is expected to ship on May 30.
“Wearing masks is our shared responsibility to protect each other and reduce community transmission,” reads the retailer’s website. It states that the cloth masks are “not replacements for medical-grade Personal Protective Equipment.”
Alice and Olivia has also donated $20,000 to No Kid Hungry, supplied 50,000 face shields and fanny packs to healthcare workers, and is calling on its followers on social media to nominate doctors and nurses to win an #AOCares package, which includes the character masks.
Warner Bros. has partnered with new licensing e-commerce site MaskClub, which was born in four days at the beginning of April, to sell face masks.
A lineup of Warner Bros. characters and logos from the studio’s line of films and TV shows, such as “Batman,” “Beverly Hills 90210,” “Looney Tunes” and “Justice League,” are available on the MaskClub site for $13.99. With every mask bought, MaskClub is giving a mask to a first responder.
Metal band Korn is selling a black cloth “surgical mask” with its logo on the front in white letters for $15 on its online merchandise store at kornwebstore.com. All of the proceeds are going to Global Giving’s COVID-19 Relief Fund, which helps vulnerable communities on the front lines.
The masks have already sold out and the next batch will be shipped on May 8. Korn places a disclaimer next to the mask, stating: “Surgical masks do not seal tightly to the wearer’s face, nor do they provide a reliable level of protection from inhaling smaller airborne particles or viruses.”
The band Thursday Band is selling a black jersey fabric masks on its merchandise site for $20, with all proceeds going to hospitals in New Jersey and New York. The mask features a little dove in the corner, the logo for Thursday Band. The first batch at the beginning of April sold out in 45 seconds, the brand said on Twitter. They are once again sold out. “These are not medical masks—they are to be used for social distancing enhancement,” states the band’s website.
Streetwear retailer Culture Kings is selling a variety of face masks online, some branded and others not. Cotton jersey masks for men and women with the Culture Kings’ logo on them are selling for $14.75, with proceeds going towards the company.
“A Face Mask is the new 2020 must-cop, so sort one out that suits your style to rep it in confidence,” reads its website. Under each item, the site states it does not make any medical claims with the use of the masks.
Shoe brand Atoms is selling washable “everyday masks” featuring its logo for $10. With every mask bought, the brand is donating one to NYC Housing Authority, and doesn’t expect to make a profit. The masks come in black, blue, pink and yellow, although Atoms has sold out of all the colors already. The black masks on sale now will begin shipping after June 15.
Alexis Ohanian, co-founder of Reddit, is an investor in the company with his investment firm Initialized Capital, and shared the new masks on Instagram.
Black Forge Coffee
Pennsylvania-based coffee house Black Forge Coffee is selling branded masks with its logo for $20 online. “If you have to leave the house to visit your favorite coffee shop in Pittsburgh, you might as well do it in style,” reads the site. It also states its masks do do not replace surgical masks.
The Hard Times, a punk news website, is converting its merchandise shirts into masks that it's then selling online for $18. They are currently sold out. While the proceeds are supporting the news site, all excess materials are being donated to create more masks.