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Fitting 100,000 People To The Tee: J. D’Addario & Co.


While “Branding” may have hit as the hottest marketing term since the new millennium, some organizations have successfully utilized the strategy for years. J. D’Addario & Co. is not only the world’s largest manufacturer of musical instrument strings, but can also point to a legacy of family proprietorship that runs eight generations without interruption.

In order to dominate the surging domestic and emerging international markets in the 1980s, D’Addario needed to create an identity and a “brand”.

Quick Stats

Client: J. D’Addario & Co.
Industry: Music


PMG’s plan included a promotional theme and a look and feel that extended to media, posters and tee shirts…including one tee shirt that is still going strong more than 100,000 shirts later!

With the D’Addario sales organization expanding dramatically domestically and overseas, PMG embarked on an ambitious brand expansion to get the D’Addario message out en masse. The push was for hot-selling XL electric nickel round wound guitar strings. The XL campaign was comprehensive, beginning with full-page ads, then continuing with theme-related fractional ads.



One part of the strategy has since become a standard industry practice…use the chests of music aficionados as walking billboards. But people only wear what they like to wear, so the question confronting PMG’s creative team was how to make a tee shirt hip so people would put it on.

The shirt’s design was a lighthearted and irreverent spin for D’Addario XLs. It combined interesting “Cow” graphics, branding through visual package identification, and the message that D’Addario XLs last a long time. Over time, variations on the theme evolved, some catchy (The Moos Brothers), some corny (Like No Udder), but all reinforcing both brand and message.

Metrics of Success

tee shirts


It’s tough to argue with success. D’Addario XLs became the best selling electric guitar strings on the planet and they remain so today. Originally the cow tee shirt was used as a premium in redeeming players’ points from string packages but later, by popular demand, the shirts became an item of sale. Over 100,000 shirts were screened and they’re still going strong.

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