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The Missed Opportunities of Sales In Team Colors

A few weeks ago, I tagged along to a Sherwin-Williams paint store with someone who recently moved into a house that needed some slight touch-up painting.

Since shopping for paint can be about as exciting as watching it dry, I sought a way to amuse myself while the clerk was determining the precise color and mixing the paint.

I decided to entertain myself by eyeballing the store’s paint sample cards for colors that would most closely match the colors of sports teams.

Since most household paint isn’t geared toward the vivid palettes used for sports team colors, I quickly settled on trying to find the shade closest to that of the famous Green Monster in Boston’s Fenway Park.

With surprising glee, I pored over the hundreds of color sample cards on display and grabbed five that might be remotely close.

Before I could narrow them to a single, precise selection, the clerk informed us that the paint was ready.

At the register, I asked the clerk, “Would your store happen to have a guide that might give the official paint shades of sports team colors?”

She frowned and sadly shook her head no.

“That’s interesting,” I replied, “because although I can’t recall which ones, I know Sherwin-Williams sponsors some pro sports teams!”

“I know,” she said, “and we are also the official paint of NASCAR!

“Now,” she continued, “The Home Depot has that system with Glidden Paints, but we don’t have it.”

Half perplexed and half delighted, I remarked, “That’s what I call ‘leaving money on the table!’” The person with me laughed knowingly.

Subsequent research by me and my friend Kris Mathis of helped me discover that Sherwin-Williams has 26 current sport or entertainment sponsorship deals.

Most deals are with NASCAR teams and Cleveland-area pro sports teams, as well as the IndyCar racing league and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
In the late 1990’s, Sherwin-Williams TV ads featured a jingle that went, “Ask how, ask now, ask Sherwin-Williams!”

In light of what I saw in their stores and discovered in my research, here are three questions I’d like to ask Sherwin-Williams.


Has Sherwin-Williams ever considered offering paint in official team colors in any shape, form, or fashion?

From my perspective, obtaining these official team colors should be anywhere from free to very cheap.

Unless Glidden has exclusive sponsorship deals with all sports leagues to provide official team-colored paint at The Home Depot (which I doubt they do), Sherwin-Williams has every right to approach the leagues and ask for the official team color combinations, which might be had for free.

If not, some sort of nominal, below-the-radar fee could probably take care of that.

And there’s always the Internet, where official team color palettes can easily be found for free and matched with appropriately corresponding Sherwin-Williams paint codes by someone who does that every day for a living.

Perhaps Sherwin-Williams shouldn’t/can’t try to do paint shades for all major sports teams at once, but it could start with the ones for which it has sponsorship rights, including its sponsored NASCAR teams.


Why doesn’t Sherwin-Williams at least activate its NASCAR league and team sponsorships to enliven its stores?

Even if I’d wandered into the only Sherwin-Williams retail store that had no activation, that’s still one store too many.

Imagine the appeal to buy Sherwin-Williams paint for people with children (or, like me, with inner children) who could be amused by life-sized cardboard cutouts of drivers Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Martin Truex, Jr., or any other driving “Junior” out there!

Throw in some branded stickers and/or a free poster of those “Junior” drivers to the “junior” customers, and Sherwin-Williams could go a long way toward creating a lasting memory via a distinct retail experience and a long-kept souvenir that will perpetually market their paints to multiple individuals for pennies (or less)!

And if it really wanted to take things over the top AND recoup some of its sponsorship investment, Sherwin-Williams could offer for sale a series of scale-model die-cast race car replicas and other assorted, officially licensed racing toys.

The company could take things even further over the top by also selling some adult-sized NASCAR souvenirs, like caps, t-shirts, keychains, lanyards, etc. (which would certainly enliven an otherwise bland retail environment).

Of course, with selected levels of minimum purchases, these items could also make nice bonus gifts for paint customers, who probably didn’t expect to have a very exciting day at a paint retail store!


Why would Sherwin-Williams not approach sport properties with unique or distinctive hues in their repertoires (like the Boston Red Sox and their Green Monster) to create exclusive sponsorships that would fully maximize the value of those properties’ colors and drive business to Sherwin-Williams stores?

Imagine if Red Sox fans were able to buy specially labeled, co-branded cans of Fenway Green paint at Sherwin-Williams stores throughout New England, if not the entire nation!

Or imagine how overrun Sherwin-Williams stores in Charlotte would be if they offered buckets of (North) Carolina Tar Heel Blue!

And think about how fast Texas Longhorns fans would hook a can of Burnt Orange in Lone Star State stores!

Even better: charge a premium price for the special shades of paint to cover any sponsorship or licensing fees, and to increase the profitability from the partnership.

Better still: knowing full well that not every sport fan’s significant other will approve of bathing a room in a selected shade of sport, offer the paint in commemorative, specially labeled and/or limited edition clear containers approximately the same size as pill bottles!

This will allow fans to boast that they have some of the exact same paint that adorns some notable spot in their favorite team’s venue, and it could create an impulse-buy revenue stream for Sherwin-Williams stores.

With these friendly suggestions, my hope for Sherwin-Williams is two-fold: that it will offer Fenway Green paint for sale so it can adorn at least one wall in my dream man-cave/study room someday, and so that it can generate some Dollar-Bill Green for itself and some sports properties.

Until it does, Sherwin-Williams is leaving money on the table.

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