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Raleigh design company to host official 'Gilmore Girls' merchandise contest

Creative Allies, a Raleigh design company, is partnering with “Gilmore Girls” to create the official merchandise for the Netflix miniseries, “Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.” 

The original “Gilmore Girls” spanned seven seasons in seven years, from 2000 to 2007, following a mother, Lorelai, played by Lauren Graham, and her daughter, Rory, played by Alexis Bledel. 

Every year, fans watched the mother-daughter duo revel in the first snowflakes of winter, eat Pop-Tarts and drink coffee at unnatural hours of the night and take part in wacky town festivities with wacky townspeople. 

After the series ended, fans wanted more.

Creative Allies CEO Donald Thompson said he believes the show's intimate relationship with its fans led it to choose his company, which hosts design contests for licensed bands and brands through which fans submit artwork to be chosen for marketing campaigns. 

“We create a design brief in an interactive contest with the theme that the client has chosen,” Thompson said. “This allows the client to, one, select cool art that can go into their merchandise plans, and, two, get social engagement of their fans.”

Now, through the design contest, fans can have a concrete, creative imprint on the series.

“The contest format is centered around fan engagement and user engagement,” Thompson said. “By leveraging the crowdsourcing platform, we offer world-class design at scale with expert curation.”

The contest asks artists to use a favorite character as a theme for original art and illustration submissions. Or, artists can use a provided quote from the show, such as “I need coffee in an IV” or “You’ve been Gilmored.” 

The “Gilmore Girls” contest is currently open, closing Dec. 19. First place receives $1,000, second place receives $500 and third place receives $250. “Gilmore Girls” will select up to four designs for merchandise and promotions, according to Thompson. 

Thompson said he is excited for the opportunity to connect a brand with such a large fan base, anticipating 300 to 400 entries.

And UNC students are excited about the return.

“I was over the moon for the reboot,” first-year Chloe Williams said. “I couldn’t wait to see all my favorite characters back in action." 

For those who watch “Gilmore Girls” — Williams’ favorite character is Kirk. 

Creative Allies has worked with musical acts such as Selena Gomez, Maroon 5, Twenty One Pilots and brands such as AriZona Beverages and Bic. 

Fuller Moehagen, the creative director at AKT, a design and merchandising company, recently won the “Orange is the New Black” and Tinashe contests and placed in the Selena Gomez contest. He advises contest designers to keep the end goal in mind. 

“Not everything looks good on a T-shirt, the same way not everything looks good framed on a wall,” Moehagen said. “If it’s a T-shirt contest, mock your design on a realistic T-shirt. If it’s a poster contest, mock it in a realistic frame. If you take the extra step to present your design in the right way, it’ll make all the difference.”

Another Creative Allies contest winner, Aaron Morales — whose design became the official Maroon 5 poster — suggests immersing yourself in the topic of the contest. 

“When working on my Maroon 5 design, I listened to their music nonstop, and familiarized myself with the band's visual style over the years,” Morales said. “I wanted to create something that could stand side-by-side with their past album covers and art work and capture the feeling of what their new single was trying to convey.”

Creative Allies landed the “Gilmore Girls” gig through its partnership with the commerce firm CafePress, which has license relationships with high-end clients. 

“It’s such an iconic show,” Thompson said. “For a show to have this kind of following, that’s pretty significant in creating an iconic license property.”

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And, for students, the contest is a way for them to get involved in something many have loved for years.

“I think the Creative Allies contest is really cool,” Christian Gragg, a junior, said. “Especially for people who have grown up watching and loving the show.”