Babcock may be gone, but his socks live on with a different name

The brand now known as Major League Socks launches a social campaign to extend its reach beyond Leafs fans.

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Torono Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock may have just been given his walking papers, but the idea to rebrand the socks that (sorta) bear his name is more of a move to extend the appeal of sports-themed apparel beyond fans of a single team.

That’s according to Jake Mednick and Tom McCole, who founded the company formerly known as Babsocks and is now called Major League Socks, and it’s supporting those efforts with a “no pants” campaign. Starting by selling socks featuring Babcock, the company now sells products featuring likenesses of various NHL players, past and present. The brand recently announced a partnership with the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA, and a retail launch with the NHL Alumni Association earlier this year.

The name change, Mednick says, has been underway for more than 18 months (well before Babcock was let go from his post), as the company was looking for a name that could help it extend beyond Maple Leafs fans. He says when the brand first emerged as Babsocks, it was representing Mike Babcock, and representing one person’s likeness always comes with an inherent risk – be it because public opinion about that person turns, or needing to build trust from scratch in new markets that don’t have the same affinity for a hockey coach.

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“We always knew that it was going to be a bit difficult with a few added obstacles, when we switched to Major League Socks, because the Babcock name had such clout, recognition and trust, even in the United States,” Mednick says.

Regarding the creative element, McCole jokes, “the only thing really getting in the way of showing off your socks, is pants.” He says fans always like to show off their favorite teams, and that this campaign is a more playful way to do it.

McCole says the brand is focusing on a social-only campaign because it is still at the grassroots level. Plus, “our product lends itself to fun advertising on those social channels,” he says. The campaign was developed by Juniper Park\TBWA (Babsocks had previously worked with agency Red Lion, which has since closed).

The foundations of the business is how artists have captured players’ likenesses, according to Mednick. And he says the campaign conveys this in a way that celebrates the artwork and best shows it off.

When it comes to audience, Mednick says the brand now has a constituency beyond Leafs Nation, and for the first time it’s seen a surge in American orders. He says the media it’s received thus far has been organic, and domestic. According to Mednick, the audience for the novelty product is a diverse one, from families to high-end professionals.