Wayne Newton, Mr. Las Vegas himself, looked at the Golden Knights newly-created third jerseys. His reaction told the organization the product was exactly what it wanted.
“He saw it, he said, ‘Wow, this is reflective of Las Vegas. Over-the-top, the neon lights, the bright-lights, big-city. It really pops,’” said Vegas Senior Vice-President and Chief Marketing Officer Brian Killingsworth.
The Golden Knights unveiled their “Metallic Gold” third jersey on Friday in a hilariously fun video featuring Newton and rapper Lil Jon, two of the team’s biggest celebrity fans. A small crew travelled to Newton’s summer house in Montana to film his portion. Lil Jon’s part was remotely produced; he’s based in Atlanta. The final edit was completed Wednesday.
That was ambitious, but couldn’t happen until Vegas and Adidas finalized the jersey. It looks incredible, but I’ve been told you can’t truly appreciate the “shine, the sparkle, the feel” until seeing it in-person. This was an arduous process starting not long after the Golden Knights were born, both sides demanding much of each other.
“Part of (owner Bill Foley’s) mantra is ‘always advance, never retreat,’” Killingsworth said. (That phrase is inscribed inside the collar.) “He always thinks about the next step, the next acquisition, the next goal, the next project. He really wanted to focus on an alternate jersey and he wanted it to be bold and bright. Reflective of Vegas.”
From the beginning, Vegas made it clear it wanted “metallic gold” to be the colour. It wanted a “shimmering vibe,” and a “sparkle texture.” But it had to pass all of the required tests for durability and breathability. And, it had to be a jersey the fans would love, that players wouldn’t be embarrassed to wear.
“They’re unreal,” said Jonathan Marchessault, the franchise’s all-time scoring leader. “Exactly what you expected from a Vegas perspective. We were expecting great things and reached it.”
The team captured players’ initial reactions to the jersey and will be releasing them on social media.
“It was one of the most complicated initiatives we’ve gone through,” said Dan Near, Global Head of Adidas Hockey and Lacrosse. “Zero compromise on any of the three main ingredients: performance, colour and material which would hit that ‘sparkle aesthetic.’ Getting those three things right was hard, getting only two of the three was unacceptable.”
“We had only one chance to do it right,” Killingsworth added.
“Early on in the process, we heard a lot of, ‘We can't do that’, which was funny. It was outside their comfort zone, being the first team in sports to wear a truly metallic gold jersey. I wouldn’t say we’re hard to work with, but we try to push the envelope as much as possible. A couple of the versions that were the first- and second-generations weren’t really bright enough. We’re the Golden Knights, we have to own the colour gold. So it makes sense for us to come out big and bold. Kudos to them for coming up with a performance material that’s really never before been done — which we’re really happy with.”
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) October 2, 2020
“Brian is right,” Near added. “The journey was a long one. But if you want to elevate hockey and take it to new places, it’s not abnormal for a project to take quite some time. Metallic gold has not existed before as a body fabric in the league. Getting to that point was difficult — at times frustrating — but I don’t know that we ever had doubt we would get there. It was, ‘How long will it take?’
“Nothing shocks us as far as things we’re asked to try, and we’re energized by the challenge. The cool thing about this project? It wasn’t going to be a subjective decision…Everyone was going to know the moment they saw the right one.”
That was in March, right before the COVID-19 shutdown. Killingsworth travelled to Adidas headquarters in Portland with Art Director Brady Hackmeister and Marketing & Communications Director Carley Sisolak. Waiting for them were Near, Global Senior Brand Manager Jason Berry and Director of Hockey Relations Nic Corbett.
“We were pretty sure they were going to like what we had,” Near said.
“We were blown away,” Killingsworth laughed. “We said, ‘That’s it.’”
Three players — Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone and Alex Tuch — did television tests with the jerseys, making sure they were camera-friendly. These were done early in the morning, easier to keep under wraps.
Who’s going to look best?
“I’d have to say William Karlsson, with his blond hair and long flow,” Marchessault answered. “If he does warmup without a helmet, he’ll be the best-looking player out there.”
Who’s not? Marchessault laughed as he considered the answer.
“When Nate Schmidt wears colours he looks pale. But he has the best sense of humour of anyone I’ve met, so I know he’ll laugh at this, too.”
The team will sell an initial commemorative package of 777 exclusive gold Treasure Boxes containing the gold jersey, customization and a limited-edition gold coin, and 250 boxes will include VGK Gold Adidas Boost shoes for an additional charge. (Marchessault liked those, too.)
“This jersey on our fans (in the seats), on the team skating out of the tunnel, will validate the excitement,” Killingsworth said. “You’ll see the shine, you’ll see the sparkle, under the lights of the arena. I don’t know there’s been a lot of jerseys in sports history that have these attributes.
“It’s loud, it’s proud and it’s Vegas.”
Will gold helmets follow?
“Not at this point,” he answered, with a smile.
“You can’t rank your children,” Near concludes, “but we’re pretty excited to see the fan and athlete reaction. Not everyone in the world, and not everyone in the hockey community, is going to react with fire emojis. We’re 100 per cent okay with that, because we know as an organization and as a brand that these are the types of moves we should be making to bring in new fans, to extend reach, to be relevant in pop culture. We’re certain this will deliver that for the Golden Knights.”