May 15, 2020

When Conan O’Brien Said Make a Shirt

by joeyphoenix

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by Joey Phoenix

Sully’s Brand t-shirts and merchandise have been popping up everywhere in the last few weeks. Ben Affleck has been caught strolling his Los Angeles neighborhood sporting various Sully’s attire and Donnie Wahlberg is seen wearing Sully’s “I Miss Sports” t-shirt in the new “House Party” New Kids on the Block Video.

And then, to put a very Boston cherry on top, evening talk show host Conan O’Brien ripped the Sully’s Zakim Bridge Design t-shirt a new one during his monologue on May 4 for being “phallic” and not at all reminiscent of his childhood as a Bostonian.

The week before, Sully’s brand had sent Conan one of their signature mystery packages, knowing that the Boston-born host would appreciate the sentiment. But Sully’s Brand owner Chris Wrenn had no real idea of what would eventually come of the gift.

“You want to remind me of my childhood? Make me a shirt that shows my father knocking a hot dog out of my hand ‘cuz Jim Rice dropped a fly ball.” said Conan O’Brien in his monologue.

Sully’s answered with a “challenge accepted.”

“The next morning, I cold-called Fenway Park caricature artist Michael Horvath and asked him to draw a T-shirt for me,” said Wrenn. “He had that to me Wednesday, and then Thursday, we printed the T-shirt and then next day aired the boxes to back to Conan.”

Conan wrote back within three hours of receiving the shirt, saying he was “blown away” and would feature it on his monologue May 11.

“Not only did he plug the shirt and our name a bunch of times, but they’ve been linking directly to our store in their social media posts,” Wrenn recounted. “It’s been absolutely wild. I made 100 t-shirts, and sold them all almost immediately.”

Reprints are in the works and you can get yours HERE.

For Sully’s, this boost was such a gift in a time when, with sports being all but canceled indefinitely due to COVID-19, they’d lost the bulk of their revenue streams.

“Most of our sales are in tourism. And right now there are no Red Sox games, there’s no Celtics/Bruins game. So we typically would have a presence at these events, but those opportunities are gone.” Wrenn said.

In an effort to keep sales up and running, Chris started creating Mystery Boxes as a way to shift their existing products. The $100 Value Stimulus Mystery Package ($50) comes in a number of themes, and would probably make a great Father’s Day Gift (wink!)

In addition to selling them, Wrenn has also been sending them out as care packages to people he thought could use a smile.

“This Conan one just completely blew up, and it was very cool and not only was he very gracious about direct linking and promoting the presence and the existence of the shirt, but he also asked me he said, you know, as a small business, I want to help you,” Wrenn recounted. “If you’re in a bad spot, I want to be able to help.”

Sully’s Brand, being the recipient of a PPP loan with employees on unemployment insurance, answered with another idea. Something that will be public in the coming weeks.

But until then, consider picking up the Conan’s Father Knocking A Hotdog Out Of His Hand Cause Jim Rice Dropped A Fly Ball T-shirt ($20) for yourself or the Dad(s) in your life, because of that doesn’t say Boston, then maybe nothing does.

Joey Phoenix is the Managing Editor of Creative North Shore and believes deeply in the fact that if we share, collaborate, and help each other out, the world will be much better off. Send them notes and pictures of sea creatures at

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