BiF-4 Insights – Mark Ecko Show ‘n’ Tell

by Braden Kelley

Mark Ecko, leader of Mark Ecko enterprises gave a show and tell about how he came up with the Rhino as the symbol for the Ecko brand.

It was interesting to hear about how he went from airbrushing t-shirts in his garage in high school and a start as a pharmacy student at Rutgers to eventually creating a major urban fashion house.

Apparently the Rhino came from playing with Star Wars action figures as a kid and his friend getting a Ton-Ton for Christmas but him not getting one for Hanukah, so he used one of his father’s driftwood rhinos and he always kicked his friend’s Ton-Ton’s ass when they fought.

He then told a story about how the Star Wars Storm Trooper hoodie (and other Star Wars licensed line came to be). Briefly:

  • Mark was in Japan and saw an unauthorized George Lucas action figure
  • He bought the action figure
  • Mark had bought a table at a fundraising event that George Lucas was attending or hosting (can’t remember)
  • At the last minute, Mark couldn’t go
  • Mark asked someone to send the George Lucas action figure in his place
  • Mark asked someone to get a picture of little George with George Lucas
  • This person made these somewhat unusual requests actually happen in his absence
  • Mark later contacted George Lucas and asked if he remembered this event
  • George Lucas did remember
  • Conversation continued and Ecko ended up getting license to do Star Wars clothing line
  • The Star Wars Storm Trooper hoodie now exists

The morals of the story?

  1. Don’t be afraid to drop out of something safe and secure like pharmacy school if your passions lie elsewhere
  2. People love to hear good stories
  3. People build emotional connections to people and brands who tell good stories
  4. You can’t tell good stories if you don’t make memories
  5. Making memories requires two things – vision and chutzpah
  6. Turn these memories into stories and share them

If you make memories and tell stories that people can identify with (rhino story, Barry Bonds baseball) or be inspired by (storm trooper hoodie story, Air Force One tagging video), they will identify with or be inspired by your organization and maybe even help to promote it.

For more information on the talk, go here.

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