A few months ago, a contestant from Memphis appeared on the TV game show “Wheel of Fortune.”
Jorge Bolivar-Rivera, from left, Edward Edmond and Cedric Douglas screen print a batch of Memphis Rocks T-shirts at Champion Awards & Apparel.
(Photos: Lance Murphey)
The host asked if Memphis, by chance, had a slogan for the city, to which the local contestant replied there isn’t one. But Jeremy Park, the indefatigable maestro behind the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club and one of the city’s loudest cheerleaders, is eager to see something fill that void.
To that end, the breakfast club is spearheading a project that’s been about a year in the making. The campaign’s tag is “Memphis Rocks,” and its key feature is a blue T-shirt on which is a musical note comprised of words.
The words are a list of fun, memorable and one-of-a-kind elements of Memphis.
“It is designed as a fun conversation starter and something both Memphians and tourists alike can enjoy,” said Park, the director of the breakfast club.
It’s also more than that. All proceeds from the sale of the shirts benefit the Memphis Police Department Fallen Officer Memorial, a $1 million project being built to honor officers who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty.
The shirts are $20, and in keeping with the spirit of the breakfast club – which has long advocated a “buy local” mentality among its members and in the community – Park said the shirts are being made, shipped and stocked by Memphis-based Champion Awards & Apparel.
Champion has been in business for more than 40 years and has a family of customers that ranges from small businesses up to corporations like FedEx and International Paper.
Park said that over the last year or so, the breakfast club had been talking internally and with many of its partners about promoting some kind of campaign to foster civic pride. That included trying to come up with a catchy slogan.
“Memphis Rocks” popped up by chance in a conversation Park had one day with Joe Fracchia, a partner in Memphis with Vaco. That concept was taken to Mike Bowen, president and CEO of Champion Awards.
“We came up with quite a few different ideas for a shirt and started narrowing it down to the version we are using now,” Park said. “We wanted to capture many of the things that make Memphis great and serve as a conversation starter, thus the music note in the backdrop. Also, we wanted something the businesses could put their logo on and have fun with, as well as retail shops selling to tourists. Something that could be larger than all of us and really be a positive for Memphis.”
A batch of Memphis Rocks T-shirts is prepared for printing at Champion Awards & Apparel. The shirts will benefit the Memphis Police Department Fallen Officer Memorial.
Beyond the T-shirt, Memphians should be seeing an additional side of the campaign soon, if they aren’t already. The “Memphis Rocks” campaign now includes a billboard component through Clear Channel Outdoor, and Park said everyone soon will be seeing “Memphis Rocks” across Clear Channel’s digital network here.
“We are encouraging anyone with a Memphis Rocks T-shirt to email us a photo of them wearing their shirt to be featured in the next phase of our billboard campaign,” he said. “The next phase will be all of the fun (photos) of Memphians wearing their ‘Memphis Rocks’ shirt.”
A television commercial will come after that.
“When it comes to the MPD Fallen Officer Memorial, one of the things we truly wanted to accomplish was broad community support,” Park said.
“When the memorial is built and the MPD, family and friends visit the site, we want them to see thousands and thousands of names that supported the effort on the donor wall. We did not want it to be a handful of companies, but rather a sea of names that shows how much our community cares and appreciates their efforts. ‘Memphis Rocks’ is an easy way to take this approach where literally the whole community can come together, celebrate our city, and give back to say thanks to all those who sacrifice their lives protecting our freedom at the same time.”
For more information about purchasing shirts, go to www.memphisrocksmerch.com.
Jeremy Park is a regular contributor to The Daily News with his weekly Giving Back column.