It used to be that a man rolled out of bed and was ready to pummel other men wearing nothing but a pair of shorts and a tiny leather helmet strapped on.
/If this was Archer, we'd be making some damn good Ray Gillette jokes.
But this is not Archer, so concentrate on football. We in the B1G accessorize now with armbands, elbow bands, bicep bands, wrist bracelets...and the occasional paid for (or free) tattoo. In that menagerie of football stuff, there's an easy argument that most add-ons do not actually add anything onto an individuals performance on the football field.
But hold on - What if I told you there was a product, that was not only unbelievably manly looking, but also enhanced your performance on the field? Would that be something you were interested in? Lana: Yuuuuuuuuuuuup.
I give to you...Farkas Eye Black. A good friend of mine from Lansing, Brian Farkas, created a top of the line eye black that's been proven to reduce glare in your eyes. Oh and it looks awesome. Oh and Jim Leonhard, a Wisconsin walk-on, is hawking Farkas Eye Black. Oh and I'm sure if you email me, I can have Brian send you some Farkas Eye Black ON THE HOUSE. So here's how it's going on this lovely Wednesday: 1) Watch the bad-ass Jim Leonhard commercial that was filmed recently and 2) check out Brian's answers about creating the Farkas Eye Black brand, why it's more effective than stickers, and who they're targeting as the next endorser for Farkas Eye Black.
OTE: Tell me about the evolution of Farkas Eye Black.
The simple version:
It started with a Paul Lukas ESPN/Uniwatch article, that acknowledged that my grandpa, Andy Farkas, was the first to wear eye black in the NFL. Shortly thereafter, my sister Katie Gates and I co-founded Farkas Original Eye Black to help amplify and grow my grandpa's legacy and his lasting contribution to the sport.
What's the importance of Farkas Eye Black?
Using science and tradition, we are committed to selling the best eye black on the market. Period. No gimmicks, no fads, just the highest quality product rooted in tradition and science. My grandpa wouldn't have it any other way. I am putting my family's name on this product. It better be the best.
From a cultural perspective, we see a huge fad now of athletes wearing stickers which are little more than a fashion statement. Now that both the NCAA and NFL banned writing messages on them on the field, I'd have to imagine their novelty is wearing off.
Scientifically, there is a huge amount of misinformation out there about stickers. We have enough information and research from Yale to fill a book about why stickers are not effective at reducing glare.
The co-founder and I, eye blacked out before a nerve-wracking co-ed softball game...
You're just a young lawyer with Midwest roots, how do you intend to compete with Under Armour or Nike when they get into the eye black field?
Having a great team is key, I learned that at Detroit Catholic Central and at the University of Notre Dame. The people around you will have a big impact on the level of your success. With Farkas Eye Black, I have a lot of help from a great team, starting with my family and Lisa Mattison. That's what sets us apart. We are a family-run business with a mission and a message. Plus today's consumer is very smart. They demand the best. We are absolutely serious about selling them the best eye black on the market. With that said, we think humor can be a great way to sell a great product. I think USA Today said it best when talking about our campaign, "Humor goes a long way in selling product." Unlike Nike and under Armour, we are forced to be creative and think outside of the box. If we are in a position where we are competing with companies like that, I think that means we've succeeded in moving the needle in the market in our favor.
What's the next step for Farkas Eye Black, design-wise? Thicker? Different colors?
We are working very closely with Dr. DeBroff of Yale to research new ways to use science and tradition to give athletes the best preforming product. There's a lot we can do in this area, but our first objective will always be to make the best eye black, it is what my grandpa would have expected from us. But don't worry - we have plenty of things in the works. I just can't tip our hand just yet.
You've got Jim Leonard on board with Farkas Eye Black, a Wisconsin alum. Why is Jim such a good fit for endorsing Farkas Eye Black?
I can tell you that my family and I are thrilled to have someone of his caliber on and off the field representing our company, our product and our grandpa. The other day he sent us an autographed football that said "Farkas, Real men wear real eye black." Jim gets what we are doing. We couldn't have asked for a better player with a better personality to kick the campaign off.
It seems you've began waging war against eye black stickers. Give me three ways in which Farkas Eye Black is better than face stickers.
The Jim Leonhard PSA has done a great job at getting out our message that stickers don't work, they look silly.
1) Farkas Eye Black is proven to work
2) Stickers are proven not to work
3) Modern day warriors should not wear stickers on their face
Are you targeting any other former Big Ten players now in the NFL to hawk your product?
Yes. After the PSA went live on Wednesday, we have had athletes reach out to join Jim in the "Athletes Against Stickers" campaign. We will be rolling them out over the next few months