As the oldest canvas- and leather-bag maker in the U.S., Duluth Pack is known for its high-quality handcrafted wares, so when Sony Pictures Entertainment needed a heavy-duty pack for its film Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, it looked north.
“The process began more than a year before Sony started filming,” says Duluth Pack spokeswoman Andrea Sega. “We didn’t know if we were going to make the final cut until the trailer came out in June.”
The wait was worth it. After 136 years in business, 125-employee Duluth Pack made it onto the big screen with its #4 Original Pack, visible throughout the film. A month after its release, Sega could not point to an impact on sales but notes, “We also have had a lot of people asking about the bag.” Duluth Pack’s appearance in Jumanji is mentioned or asked about on a daily basis in the Duluth store, says assistant retail store manager Elizabeth Vaughn.
“To hit that pinnacle where Hollywood is interested is pretty cool,” says Duluth Pack owner and president Tom Sega (father of Andrea). “It’s a step forward in being a brand that has staying power.”
While it’s Duluth Pack’s first appearance in a Hollywood film, it’s not the company’s first encounter with A-list celebrities. In 2015, Duluth Pack created packs for Maroon 5, and it has gifted packs to several artists who have performed at Xcel Energy Center, many of whom have “become rock-solid customers,” says Tom Sega. More than 100 celebrities have carried its product, including Blake Shelton and Adele.
Unlike the Jumanji appearance, which was mere happenstance, the company’s celebrity marketing is often strategic. Duluth Pack struck a partnership with the arena’s operator about three years ago; it and Duluth Pack work together to decide which entertainers are the right fit for its brand. After researching the entertainers’ preferences — whether they like buckles versus snaps, for example — Duluth Pack handcrafts a custom bag, incorporating Xcel’s logo and the concert date on the inside.
The most successful effort to date was with Ed Sheeran, who sported a Duluth Pack shirt when he performed at Xcel in July. “Within two months, he was either seen or interviewed more than 20 times wearing Duluth Pack apparel,” says Andrea Sega. “A lot of people call it the Ed Sheeran sweatshirt now.”
This article is reprinted in partnership with Twin Cities Business.